Noyce Alumni Profile
Krista (Roop) Seager
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: B.S. Mathematics; MA.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Name of Noyce institution:
Current teaching assignment (school and district):
Booker T. Washington H.S., Norfolk, VA, Math Interventionist (Algebra 2 and Math Analysis)
What made you decide to become a teacher?
My mother was an elementary school teacher, my father an engineer, and I grew up acting in local theatre productions around Richmond. Mathematics has always been satisfying, and I enjoy performing, so all paths pointed towards teaching math!
Describe your current teaching assignment.
I am blessed to have been at Booker T. Washington (BTW) H.S. in Norfolk, VA for 10 years. BTW became Virginia’s first accredited public high school for African Americans in 1917. Over 90% of our students come from low-income families, and the black student population is just over 80%. I work with amazing educators and inspiring students. Our school mottoes: “You don’t know what it takes to be a Booker,” “Can’t hide that Booker pride,” and “Once a Booker, always a Booker” perfectly sum up the atmosphere at BTW. Our students’ hardships growing up in a system struggling to define the difference between equal and equitable create many mountains to climb for them and for their teachers who seek to provide the resources and opportunities that they deserve. The passion and zeal students and staff show make our pride in being a “Booker” infectious. At BTW, I have taught geometry, served as the Mathematics Department chair, and since 2017, have been a “Math Interventionist,” working with the mathematics department/teachers on student remediation and as a data analyst to support math and all of the core subjects to use the data to impact learning and instruction. I’ve worked with geometry, Algebra 2, and Math Analysis teachers to prepare and support the students with the foundations needed for the courses, and with the intention of building our AP program.
How did the Noyce program prepare you for this assignment?
The Noyce program staff at Virginia Tech set high expectations for students. They provided support and encouragement to make sure we got the content AND thoroughly understood the reasoning behind “why” the mathematics works. In my job, I support both students and teachers. I believe most of my ability to do this well was instilled through the preparation I received at Virginia Tech. Before graduate school, I didn’t understand how to connect high school mathematics to students’ K-8 experiences. Working with a range of teachers, I understand that all collegiate preparatory courses are not necessarily consistent in content and delivery. At Virginia Tech, a Secondary Mathematics course and an Elementary School Mathematics course really pushed us to make connections and learn questioning strategies to help our students to understand the “why.” We also were fortunate to have professors like Andy Norton, Betti Kreye, and Sue Hagen, to name a few, who found opportunities to help support our paths into secondary math education as well as being interested in us and our day-to-day lives.
Did the Noyce program at your university prepare you to use teaching strategies that can help all students learn in all settings?
Here are some mottoes I share with my students and try to follow myself as I work with them: “All things are possible, if you believe.” “You’ve got this.” “It never hurts to ask the question.” “You own one thing in this life, your reputation, so make it a good one.” Being able to create a classroom culture/teacher identity where all students believe that you truly care about their well-being is the most important connection a teacher can make to excite and entice all students to care about learning. These strategies are at the core of working successfully with students in every setting and with people in general. Setting high expectations and being able to support and connect with students to give them confidence that they can be successful in math seems to be an equal incorporation of encouragement as well as questioning strategies. I also believe that a teacher should: Go to student games or other events. Call parents for GOOD and supportive reasons. Know when to give students space. Make time to talk with them individually and celebrate successes, even if it’s only a 10-point increase between tests. Don’t be a friend but be fair, consistent, and show that you care and mean it.
How do you use what you’ve learned (content and pedagogy)?
Two courses were especially helpful at Virginia Tech. As an undergraduate, “Race, Class, and Gender” opened my eyes to how inequitable our public school system was and encouraged my desire to contribute to change. It was a small class, centered on discussion rather than lecture, with students of all backgrounds in an open and safe environment. In graduate school, a course taught by Dr. Pitts Bannister, focused on diversity, forced me to productively struggle with how others see me, how I see others, and the significance of seeing, celebrating, and being able to support all students. The course instilled the importance of researching backgrounds and histories before making judgments.
In addition to teaching, are you exploring new areas in content, teaching strategies, leadership, etc. If so, what areas and did the Noyce experience play a role?
I believe that even as adults we “learn something new every day.” I am always open to new ideas and strategies. As a logical next step after my Noyce experience, I became a part of the mathematics community—attending as well as presenting at local, state, and national mathematics conferences. When making a presentation, I tend to offer as much as possible in terms of activities, resources, and strategies so that teachers can head back to their classrooms with ideas that can be immediately implemented. I have realized that individually it can be difficult to reach goals, so moving into a position where I can support other teachers with strategies and materials while still supporting students academically has become my current focus as an educator. We will see where life takes me, but I know my family, fellow Noyce Scholars, the cooperating teachers who I have observed and taught with as a student teacher, and the professors who pushed and supported me along the way have helped to build my infectious positive/optimistic outlook to support learning and growth in all students and teachers.
Describe any highlights/special achievements during these beginning years of teaching?
In 2014-15, I was named Booker T. Washington H.S. Teacher of the Year. I was interviewed on “Hearsay with Cathy Lewis” through the American Graduate: 2012 Retrospective and since then have worked with our graduation coaches to help support students off-track for graduation. I have been the class sponsor for 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, organizing class trips to Six Flags as well as Disney World and running the school’s fashion show for four years. I mentored a student teacher who has become a successful educator. I have presented consistently since graduate school as well as multiple times a year on district level professional development days.
I wish all teachers had the chance to enroll in the Secondary Math Education program at Virginia Tech. I believe that the preparation provided in both mathematics content as well as pedagogy is near if not at the top of education programs. My fellow students from graduate school remain as some of my best resources. I recommend attending as many conferences as you can early in your career to learn as well as network with others in the field to update and expand your own strategies (but not re-create the wheel). Find the people in your building who believe in positivity to help you grow and to give your students the best opportunities for success. Never stop learning.