Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Secondary Education
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: High School Mathematics
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Noyce Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
National Science Foundation Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
Current academic or teaching status:
1st year in school
School and school district:
Paradise Valley School District
After earning my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from NAU in December 2007, I was hired as an engineer-in-training in drainage and flood control at a firm called Dibble Engineering in January 2008. For eighteen months, I learned how to apply hydrology and hydraulics to design a wide variety of stormwater projects. When I was first assigned to the Drainage and Flood Control practice, I was less than enthused, but after a few months, and with the help of a great team, I thoroughly enjoyed working on drainage master plans, mapping floodplains, and designing structures for stormwater management. In July 2009, I was transferred to Dibble’s Transportation practice where I employed my skills and knowledge from the previous practice to design rainwater solutions for highways and streets. For the next two years, I honed my skills in flood control and transportation, working on many projects for ADOT, MCDOT, and various municipalities. In my last nine months at Dibble Engineering, I was introduced to traffic interchange design, traffic signing/striping design, and traffic studies.
When I was laid off in August 2011 due to the lack of work available, I used this opportunity to rejuvenate my interest in math and teaching, and I embarked upon my journey toward becoming a math teacher. After some research, I signed up to take the AEPA tests in Mathematics and Secondary Professional Knowledge in November; I was thrilled with the passing scores I received in December. In January 2012, I met Carol Patterson, the principal of Palo Verde Middle School, because she needed a long-term substitute for an 8th grade math class after the current teacher left unexpectedly in December. She interviewed me and also helped guide me toward obtaining my substitute teaching certification. The day I received my certificate and before the ink had time to dry, I was in the classroom, introducing myself to my new group of 8th graders.
Why do you want to teach:
Since I was young, I’ve always had a love of mathematics. The logical progression and consistency of math makes me happy and confident when I’m teaching it. I’ve told students that math is so great because it doesn’t change; there is only one solution (usually), and you cannot argue with it as you can in Socratic subjects. My love of math and its sister, science, led me to pursue a degree in civil engineering, which was quite a challenge in school and as a profession. The problem-solving skills and work ethic I gained through these years are invaluable. I believe these skills and my passion for mathematics to be my greatest strengths as a current and future educator.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
When I was first introduced to my new class of 8th graders, I told them that I was an engineer, and I began to describe many of the different problems I solved in my career. Using the dry erase board, I illustrated rainfall runoff gathering in the curb and the importance of designing a properly sized catch basin and pipe system. I explained that something as simple as “a hole in the gutter” required a lot of math to solve because if it’s too small, water floods the streets and businesses, and if it’s too large, you’re wasting money to build it. My background sparked some interest in the students because they were able to see how math is needed and applied beyond the classroom. Throughout the school year, wherever I was able to revert the lesson plan to my time as an engineer or as an engineering student, I pounced on the opportunity, and I was always rewarded with some intrigued students whose interest in math was boosted. It was quite a challenge to make math alluring to 8th graders, but I believe that my experience helped me bring the subject to them in a new light.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
With the birth of my first daughter in January and my desire to pursue a career in teaching, the Noyce program has been incredible. I am very thankful for the program because it allowed me to be a stay-at-home mother while attending classes online. It’s very rewarding that I can focus mainly on these two aspects of my life without having to work an additional job to support our family and pay for school.