Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Mathematics
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Mathematics / Secondary School
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Noyce Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
University of Utah, SMART Program
Current academic or teaching status:
Graduate student, Student Teacher
School and school district:
West High School, SLC School District, Utah
I was born in Salt Lake City and have lived here my entire life. I graduated from East High School in 2004 and then attended the University of Utah, from which I graduated summer 2010.
Why do you want to teach:
Of all the jobs I have worked thus far in my life, while they taught me important lessons about work ethic, responsibility and were even fun sometimes, none provided the sense that I was actually doing any good for anybody. These jobs supported me in my journey up to this point in my life and I am thankful for that, but I cannot even stand the thought of spending my life in a career in which I see no purposes outside of those concerning the bottom line interests of myself and my company; I want to be a person whose contributions to the community in which he lives are of substance. I want to be a teacher because I believe in the significance of this role. I adhere to the philosophy that no matter what a person is born into, education should provide the means for them to advance their position in life. Besides that, teaching seems like the career best suited to me. I love my subject area and have found helping others to understand and appreciate it to be deeply satisfying. I love the personal interaction that is involved, every day getting to know your students better and every year getting to know a new group. Finally, I believe that there is much that I can learn by working with the younger generation and that by doing so in the context of working through the difficulties of being a teacher in this day and age I will grow into the type of person that I want to be.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
The first time I tutored a friend in mathematics, I could not believe how hard it was to get the information to transfer. I started with straitforward explanations as would appear in a textbook. When that did not work I tried to break the concepts down into simplest parts and to teach one piece at a time. Eventually, we reached a point where I thought to myself, I do not know how else to explain this and they still do not understand; I cannot teach this person. I was not so shameful as to place the blame for this on my friend but recognized this as a deficiency on my part. Prior to this experience I had assumed that if one has a firm understanding of a subject then explaining it so that another can understand is a simple matter. Seeing that this is not so provided the push for me to start critically considering what in fact makes one an effective teacher. I still have not quite figured this out.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
While I have had the intention of becoming a teacher for quite some time, I must admit that for a long time I was somewhat intimidated by the process of doing so. This is due to being uncertain of both how the process works exactly and how I planned to balance work and school with transitioning into the role of teacher. I feel like this program that I am in is the light at the end of the tunnel that I have been chasing for so many years. The benefits of not having to work full time throughout this process cannot be overstated, but even more important to me is the extensive student teaching program with a great mentor. The desire to teach is great in me, but I do not believe that teaching is something that I could just jump into and be effective. The structure of this program has been a huge boost of confidence and I feel now that when the time comes for me to take command of a classroom that I will be ready.