Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: MAT, Middle Grades Education
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Math and Science
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Fifth year or post-baccalaureate Noyce scholar
Name of Noyce institution:
University of North Carolina Wilmington/STAR Scholarship
Current academic or teaching status:
Graduate school-second year
School and school district:
I hold a BS degree in Accounting and currently work at University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) as an Administrative Associate in Academic Affairs. I previously owned a preschool and really enjoyed watching my students explore and learn. I particularly enjoyed designing hands on experiences for them to reinforce concepts we were studying. We planted a butterfly garden each year for Earth Day and a vegetable garden each summer to learn about the growing cycle. Each day we left birdseed on the deck so that we could watch the birds as they came to feed. We had a bird guide by the door so that we could identify each bird. After we told the children that the Cardinal is North Carolina’s state bird, we would hear choruses of “state bird,” “state bird” each time a Cardinal came on the deck to feed. My school closed, and I accepted my position at UNCW, but I missed the interaction I had with children. I decided to pursue certification in middle grades math and science. My advisor suggested that I apply for the MAT Middle Grades Education program, since I already have a degree. I did and have been accepted into the graduate program. I am enthusiastic about my coursework, and more excited about returning to the classroom.
Why do you want to teach:
I love watching children investigate, explore and reach that “aha” moment when they understand what is being taught. They have so much curiosity and soak up as much information as you can give them. The challenge is helping them put all the information together so that they can reach conclusions and make thoughtful decisions. I believe that in many areas the United States is losing its technological edge; the end of the space shuttle program is an example of that. I want to inspire students to want to learn more and contribute to our innovation and technological growth. With a large number of engineers reaching retirement age, engineering is a field that will need dedicated and creative minds to fill those positions. I hope that I can help students see engineering as an interesting, challenging career choice. It is the engineers who make the designers’ dreams become reality.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
One of my preschool students came from a home where the only language spoken in the home was Chinese. Both parents immigrated from Taiwan and wanted their children to experience their culture. Mark did not know one word of English. Communicating with him required patience, repetition and a lot of gesturing. However, word by word, he came to speak fluent English and was one of the brightest students in the class. What that experience taught me is that first you have to be able to reach each child in a way they understand. Not all children understand things or comprehend things in the same way, but if you work with each child you can reach them, and the reward is unbelievably satisfying.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
The STAR scholarship provided through the Noyce program has provided funds for me to take math and science classes in addition to my graduate coursework. I have studied Coastal Climates, Biology of the Sea and this semester will study the History and Development of Mathematics. These courses have given me a better foundation for project-based learning activities for my students, since I will have a stronger understanding of the subjects myself.