Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Education
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Mathematics, grade 7
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Master Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Current academic or teaching status:
8 years teaching
School and school district:
Monroe Middle School, Omaha Public Schools
My hometown is Council Bluffs, IA. I received my bachelor’s from the University of Northern Iowa and my master’s from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I have been teaching at Monroe Middle School for 8 years. I enjoy fantasy sports, watching sports, and reading.
Why do you want to teach:
I was fortunate enough to have had two amazing teachers in middle and high school. They were amazing due to their knowledge of their content and desire/ability to build relationships with their students. They made a lasting impression on me and that directly led me to become a teacher. I enjoy teaching not only math, but also teaching children in general. I build relationships with my students in order to help them become better people and better mathematicians.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
As an educator, it is my duty to educate my students in mathematics. Due to the increasing demand in testing and meeting the requirements for No Child Left Behind, I have had to explore new options for making sure the students are meeting expectations. It became very apparent that the three hours my students spent in my classroom in a week were not going to be enough to prepare them for success. Two years ago, I realized after the first quarter of the school year that we were in danger of not meeting our annual yearly progress. The first 2 units of the year were typically fairly easy content, yet this particular year my students struggled. I knew at that point that I was going to have to change my normal methods of instruction in order meet our goal. In an ideal world, if students were struggling with the content, they would stay after school to get extra help from the teacher. However, there were very few parents and students willing to come after school for some one-on-one tutoring with me. I had to resort to giving up my lunch time to do a “working lunch” with students needing extra help. I would meet them in a classroom next to the cafeteria and tutor them while they ate. For some of my special education students, meeting with them during lunch was not an option. Some of them had a hard time focusing on the work when they had food in front of them. With the support of my principal, I pulled five students from their non-core classes, and I gave up my planning time two or three times a week to tutor them in my classroom. I spent extra time preparing mini-lessons to work on areas of the content that the students found difficult. I tried to present the material to these students in a way that I believed would be a good fit for their learning styles. After all of the hard work that my students and I did, our school did end up meeting the requirements for No Child Left Behind that year in mathematics for all subgroups. I had the highest proficiency rate on our district’s math tests in our building. Even though it was an incredibly stressful year, if I had to do it all over again, I would. I know that some of those 20 students had very few successes in their educational career. Seeing the looks on their faces when I told them that not only did our school meet the requirements, but also they passed enough of the tests to meet the individual requirements, was worth every minute I spent working with them.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
The challenges that I face on a daily basis at Monroe are the main reason that the Master Teaching Fellowship (MTF) appeals to me. I want to increase the achievement of my students any way that I can, and I see this opportunity helping me do this in two ways. Both are centered on the classes that are offered through the program. I believe that the math classes will continue to give me a deeper understanding of mathematics, and will therefore help me present it to my students in ways that will make them successful. The second way that I see the MTF helping me is through the courses on diversity, leadership, and psychology. It is my hope that with these classes, I will be able to continue my search for ways to get past the obstacles our students face on a daily basis and help them to be successful. Every year produces new challenges, and it is important for me to continue to grow as an educator so that I have tools to combat those challenges.