Degree(s) earned and from where: Biology, B.S. from the University of Utah
Previous career: I was on track to become a pediatrician, but after 2+ years of medical school, I changed my mind.
What made you decide to change to a career in K-12 teaching?
After I withdrew from medical school, I had some decisions to make. I reflected on what I liked & disliked about a career in medicine. I disliked the fact that I would have to be 120% devoted to my job, leaving little time to spend with my husband & our future family. It is true that many physicians balance both successfully; however, it usually takes years to reach the point in one’s career where that level of independence is possible. On the other hand, I loved (nearly) every minute of my medical education! I enjoyed furthering my knowledge & learning to apply it to help patients. It was great to feel that I could make a difference in someone’s life. So there I sat, working through my priorities & trying to find a career that fit nicely. At some point, I understood that education would give me the opportunity both to impact the lives of others & to spend more time with my family. I could do just what I did in medical school: further my education & use those skills to make a difference in the lives of others. However, as a teacher, I have the potential to influence far more individuals in more aspects of their lives than I ever could as a physician. After I realized that, I had made my decision. I am going to be a teacher.
What attracted you to Kennesaw State University’s MAT program?
I wasn’t sure what degree to pursue when I wandered onto Kennesaw’s website one day. I found the MAT program & felt that it was the best fit for me. The school’s reputation for training good teachers & the size of the program appealed to me. I wanted a good, solid education in an environment where I could expect individual support but still have enough peers to ensure diverse opinions & experiences. I could tell that Kennesaw’s MAT met those criteria & I didn’t even apply anywhere else!
What do you hope to learn by being a Noyce Teaching Fellow?
I hope to learn as much as possible about how to be the best teacher that I can be. The MAT program is fantastic & would alone teach me a lot. However, being a part of the Noyce community will afford me more experience & give me more insight into exactly what it takes to succeed. I want to make my default approach a collaborative one. As a Noyce Teaching Fellow, I am expected to work with my peers & mentors to improve not only my ability to teach but also the quality of education in general. I hope to learn more about the status of STEM education in our schools & find out what can happen to make it better. The approach of the Noyce program is to recruit higher-quality educators. I’m excited (and honored) to be a part of it!
What challenges do you think exist in high needs schools that differ from non-high needs schools?
I know that there are so many more than those of which I am aware. However, in my mind the challenges of high need schools stem from an acceptance of that “high need” status & some level of indifference toward changing it. The label provides an excuse for the poor quality of STEM education in those schools. The challenge then becomes overcoming that hurdle, finding a way to sift through the factors that led to the “high needs” status & tackle them one by one. In non-high needs schools, there is presumably more support for STEM education which results in higher retention rates of effective teachers. Now, I’m not sure that it’s fair to imply that high needs schools don’t support their STEM educators. I’m sure that there are many, many factors. I know just from my own experience, however, that accepting a label as “how it’s going to be” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am grateful for this opportunity to get the best education I can get & use it in the areas that need it most to begin to break down those barriers.