Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Math Education
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Mathematics, grades 9-12
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Master Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Current academic or teaching status:
12 years teaching
School and school district:
Falls City High School, Falls City, NE
I am originally from Falls City, NE. I received my education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and have been teaching for 12 years at Falls City High School. I enjoy coaching middle school football and basketball, reading, and Duke basketball.
Why do you want to teach:
I am a second-generation educator. Both of my parents are public school teachers, my father was a high school math instructor for almost 30 years, then became a principal, and now is a superintendent. I was raised around the education career as a lifestyle, not just a job. As I grew up, I understood the pitfalls of teaching and aspired to follow a different path. I chose to study mechanical engineering when I came to UNL in 1992. Taking numerous math, physics, and science classes, I started to accept that the upside to teaching could outweigh all of the issues I’d seen growing up. I started to realize just how much I enjoyed the classroom: the interactions between teacher and student and the reward of passing on the passion for math and learning. I had always known that my parents were very good at their jobs and that the rewards of teaching kept them working hard at it, but I had never understood how interesting it could be to work with young people, helping them to grow into successful adults. I struggled with the decision to change my major and give up an engineering career to the detriment of my engineering grades, but once I admitted to myself what I really wanted to do, I again had success in school. My 12 years as a classroom math instructor have been immensely rewarding and enjoyable. There have been tough years and rough spots, but working with young people and sharing mathematics with them, and helping them become the persons they want to be, has been worth all of the time and struggles.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
This past semester I worked with two students on their final project in my course. One, a junior male, was investigating distance and time for bullets fired above ground as they dropped while the Earth curved away. The other, a senior female, was looking at a cost-benefit analysis of different price points of eye lash mascara. I could tell both had picked great topics as their passion and excitement for using math showed when they came in repeatedly outside of class to share their progress and get guidance and acceptance that their ideas and topics mattered or were a serious use of math. Both were strong enough students normally, but their engagement rose exponentially when they were personally invested.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
I feel there is a need for a master math teacher in southeast Nebraska, a go-to person for advice, answers to questions, someone to stay on top of new developments in the state and lead staff development training for math interventions. Currently, there is no one filling that role specifically for math instruction. Our district does the best it can internally and our Education Support Unit (ESU) does the best it can with the staff it has, but a math expert would be even better. As a Master Teacher Fellow from the Noyce program, I feel I could step into that role, first in my own district to guide our staff through the changing landscape of education and assessment. I can also see the opportunity to work with our ESU to provide the same service to area schools. I believe I have most of the qualities needed to take this on right now, but not all of the skills, information, or qualifications to do so yet. As part of the Fellowship program, I would feel empowered and connected to the appropriate support network to take on this responsibility.