Archive for the 'Learning' Category

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Sam Knudson

This fall, we are spending time getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Samantha Knudson, one of our Noyce Scholars in the Masters in STEM Teaching Program.

rebecca-sam-2018I grew up in the country on a dead-end road in the very small town of Mindoro, WI, and I graduated from high school with 54 people in my class. I started at Luther College in Decorah, IA, before transferring to UW-Madison where I studied wildlife ecology. I had never been to Marquette’s campus prior to accepting and starting this program! My family is your average small-town family, I’m super close with my parents and brother. I have one younger brother (three years younger) who is my best friend. The road we live on is actually named after our family!

My favorite educational experience is studying abroad in Ecuador. I took a tropical ecology and conservation summer course, and I was able to do things I never thought I would. We studied howler monkeys in the dry forest, hiked in the cloud forest, swam in the Tiputini River, and climbed to a platform at the top of a Ceiba tree in the rainforest early in the morning to go birding. There we got to see the rainforest come to life. We saw the sunrise, birds, monkeys and toucans, it was breathtaking.

The NSF Noyce Program is helping to shape me as an educator by opening my eyes to many things I was unaware of coming from a small town. The program does a great job at getting you in the field and on your feet right away! I can’t believe how much I have already learned just in the summer and fall portion of the program.

I love being outdoors and being active and creative! I enjoy snowboarding, turkey and deer hunting, fishing, scrapbooking, and spending time with my friends and family. Working out or running is my go to. Whenever I get stressed it is so nice to be able to just free myself from the world for a bit. I also love to quilt but have a hard time finding the time to do so. My cat, Pizza, thinks all the material I lay out is for him to play with so when I find time, it isn’t always the most productive. I also love to cook but hate cleaning up afterwards. If you are interested in a hobby or activity, go for it! And stick with it! Someone is always there to teach you and help you. My dad introduced me to all the outdoorsy things, my aunt taught me how to quilt, and my mom always has the answers to my cooking questions. Take the initiative to reach out and do what interests you!

I like to think back to the teachers I had in school and the reasons why I liked them so much. When looking back, I always pick up on the kind and caring traits of my school band director. He really took the time to get to know his students. I want to create the same safe, exciting and caring atmosphere, and I aim to similarly connect and inspire my students in my future science classroom. I was also fortunate to have a very passionate ecology teacher who implemented many hands-on activities that got students outside of the typical classroom, which was a factor in my decision to pursue a degree in wildlife ecology in college. My goal is to create a similarly engaging classroom where students are inspired to pursue science careers.

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Getting to Know Our Students! Meet Denice Brunner

We’re continuing our blog series Getting to Know Our Students this week by featuring Denice Brunner, one of the Noyce Scholars. Want to learn more? Check out the entire series and previous posts!

OCHS 2017-2018My name is Denice Brunner. I am a current Noyce Scholar pursuing licensure as a secondary math teacher. I was born and raised in Rochester, MN, with five older siblings.  I moved to Milwaukee after high school to attend Marquette University and obtained an Electrical Engineering Degree. After graduating from Marquette, I stayed in the Milwaukee area working as an engineer at various companies.  After seven years working as an engineer, I began to ponder pursuing an education degree. I started taking education classes on a part-time basis. That was put on hold, though, after I married and began a family with my husband, Jeff. We have six children; one with special needs. I kept finding myself in different education roles over the years, as learning coach to my children when they attended public virtual school, as an instructional aide for ELL high school students, and a media aide in a high school library. I thoroughly enjoyed all of those educational experiences, so it is no surprise to me that I found my way back to Marquette to become a high school math teacher!

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Educational Studies Student Sharpens Her Skills

In March of 2017, the College of Education launched a new major and minor for undergraduate students called Educational Studies. Starting in the fall of 2017, interested students could enroll in this program geared towards those interested in education outside of the traditional classroom. Throughout the their time with this program, students will embark on semester- or year-long internships with local nonprofit organizations. Our first student intern is completing her placement at SHARP Literacy this fall — we caught up with Bri Cross, our College of Education senior, and Marisa Riepenhoff, VP of Education with SHARP, to learn more about it!


…the need to improve education in my community makes me want to be a part of trying to make a change.


Bri Cross, Educational Studies Intern

Iwas born and raised on the north side Milwaukee, WI. I attended Messmer Prep St. Mary for elementary/middle school and graduated from Pius XI Catholic High School in 2015. I have a lot of inspiration for my work and my passion! Growing up in Milwaukee is just one of them and the need to improve education in my community makes me want to be a part of trying to make a change.

Bri Cross, College of Education senior

My mom was in childcare for over 20 years and is now working in MPS. Therefore, watching how she was with the kids and how hard she worked made me want to be like her when I grew up (now I’m all grown up and following in her footsteps). I also have about 30+ younger cousins and they all look up to me. I am a first-generation student, and soon some of them will be, too. I want to be a positive role model towards them and encourage them to live up to their full potential. Since I’ve gone through it, I hope to be a resource that they will use in the future.

As an intern at SHARP Literacy, I assist with office work and programming. My office work includes: calendar inputs, organizing and analyzing surveys, printing and putting together materials for SHARP workshops and events. The programming duties include a couple of different pieces such as reading with the Golden Eagles and Pioneer program. I reach out to schools’ liaisons to see when collegiate athletic players are able to visit classrooms to read and interact with students. I also attend these events to make sure the day runs smoothly. Additionally, I assist with lesson planning for the intergenerational program. This program allows for students to visit assisted living homes to do projects with the seniors. When the students are at the location I help facilitate with the SHARP representative or the teacher. When they are not able to make it, I facilitate the workshop.

I’m so used to being around kids and interacting with them that it’s hard to pick a favorite educational experience. That being said, I’ve enjoyed stepping out my comfort zone and interacting with those who work in the SHARP office. It’s been a pleasure gaining insight from Marisa! She’s an incredible person to work with, and I’m highly appreciative that I received this opportunity.


Ask yourself what you are passionate about and then find organizations that fit your passion.


Marisa Riepenhoff, Vice President of Education for SHARP Literacy

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My role as VP of Education means that I manage the full-time education department at SHARP Literacy while working with the executive team and the board of directors to shape the overall education vision for the organization. I also work closely with school district leaders, school principals and community center leaders to make sure our programming meets the needs of elementary students and teachers in the classrooms and sites where we work. Finally, I am responsible for making sure we are accountable to our donors and that we are evaluating whether or not our education programs are meeting the goals we set to achieve.

I’m originally from Lake Ozark, Missouri, and have lived in Milwaukee for nine years. I was a theatre undergraduate major at the University of Missouri-Columbia and then I earned a Master of Science in Teaching from Pace University in New York City. I completed my certification to be a principal or director of instruction in the State of Wisconsin from Carroll University through their Educational Leadership program. I am currently an adjunct professor at Carroll University teaching an Educational Studies class about the design, development and delivery of education programs in non-profit settings.

I had a wonderful teacher when I was in elementary school named Barbara Duffy. The experiences she gave us in the natural world and in the arts shaped my vision for the types of content-rich learning experiences all kids deserve. From making dandelion waffles and violet syrup with flowers we picked ourselves to performing Shakespeare every year from first through eighth grade, she made science and reading come alive in ways that have enhanced my life personally and make me want to give back professionally.

My favorite experience working with Bri has been seeing her grow in her ownership of the programs she manages, especially the Reading with the Golden Eagles and Reading with the Pioneers programs. Seeing her confidence grow as she solves problems and works through coordinating with so many different schools has been rewarding. I also love laughing with Bri; it has been an honor to have an educational studies intern at SHARP. Our whole team loves working with her!

If you’re interested in pursuing an Educational Studies program, there are so many great organizations in Milwaukee to get to know! Ask yourself what you are passionate about and then find organizations that fit your passion. Set up informational interviews and even consider volunteering at organizations you’re curious about. My other recommendation is to have a disposition of flexibility. Working in the nonprofit sector means that you’ll wear many hats and will need to pitch in when necessary. Coming in with an attitude of being open to what needs to be done will go a long way!

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Elli Pointner

This semester, we’ve been introducing you to our students. Meet Elli Pointner, one of our undergraduate students in the College of Education. And, make sure you check out our entire series on the blog!

IMG_1393My name is Elli Pointner, and I am a junior studying Secondary Education and Mathematics with a minor in Spanish here at Marquette University. I grew up in Winfield, IL, which is a small western suburb of Chicago. I have one sister who is a junior in high school back, and I have two loving parents, Dolly and Scott Pointner, who give me unconditional love and support as I study to become a teacher. I came to Milwaukee my freshman year and instantly fell in love with the city! I am convinced that I am going to be a resident of MKE for as long as I can. The people, the connections, the schools, the lake, the activities, the small businesses, the farmers’ markets, the festivals, the music, the culture—I am in love with Milwaukee!

This semester, I am in a field placement at Riverside University High School in a freshman algebra class. I am so excited to learn more about 1) the Milwaukee Public School System, 2) how to teach Freshman Algebra, 3) different teaching styles that might not be as familiar to me, and 4) the amazing, intelligent students I am working with this semester! Marquette has done a great job of placing me with experts in the Math Education world here in Milwaukee. I have already learned so much from my cooperating teachers, my professors, and non-profits that support aspiring urban teachers, like the Center for Urban Teaching. By connecting me with experts in and outside the field, I am able to observe stellar teaching, debrief with the experts, and then practice new skills in an actual classroom.

This past summer, I taught 8th grade at Milwaukee College Preparatory. The summer was filled with fun, joy, and a lot of laughter! The Center for Urban Teaching summer school program gave me the opportunity to grow as an urban teacher and learn more about my future vocation, and if it weren’t for the College of Education, I would have never heard about this wonderful internship. I had bright and talented students who taught me so much in just five short weeks. My coach presented me with countless new and engaging teaching techniques, and my staff faithfully supported me throughout my journey this summer.

Countless aspects of the College of Education drew me to Marquette. I love that Marquette requires its education majors to double major in Education and a content area. Since my second major is Mathematics, I have had the opportunity to dive into the world of Math and appreciate all it has to offer. Marquette’s College of Education has driven me to enjoy and thirst for learning, not only through its classes and academics, but through professors, mentors, fellow teachers-in-training, and most of all, life-long friends! I love Marquette’s College of Education!

Want to learn more about our Teacher Education program? Head on over to our website for more information– or, even better, come visit us on campus!

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With Katie Syc

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, Katie Syc. Read on to hear more about what she’s been doing since graduation!

My name is Katie Syc, and I grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois; and my parents still live there. My sister and her family live in Rochester, New York. My mom often jokes that my dad and she never really had an interest in math and medicine for their own career, which of course are the two fields that interest me and my sister! Currently, I’m teaching at DePaul College Prep where I teach Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and a Math Intervention Course. In addition to being a teacher at school, I am a monitor of the Young Women’s Leadership Club and coach of the DePaul Prep Track Team.

My favorite educational experience in the College of Education was the NOYCE CO-OP experiences at various schools throughout the Milwaukee area. It was a great experience because the other Noyce Scholars and I had an opportunity to engage and participate in the various practices we learned about in our classes. Instead of just reading about the different theories, we practiced them while discussing our strengths and weaknesses. Starting this process before student teaching gave me more confidence. It also allowed us to engage with administration, social workers, department chairs, and the parent associations which broadened our skills sets to apply later in student teaching and in our careers. This unique opportunity gave us the time to practice our skills and learn from our mistakes right then and there. My participation in the program also allowed for networking and attending various NSF Noyce Programs which allowed us to share and learn different teaching strategies. In addition, by teaching at such various schools, we were also able to get a better sense of the types of schools we would like to teach in after graduating. Looking back at my studies at Marquette in the College of Education, I am so happy I participated in the Noyce Program!

One of my own high school math teachers was my inspiration to become a teacher myself. He was someone who didn’t just teach math, but rather mentored us. He didn’t teach us what to think, but rather how to think. I want to do the same with my own students!

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With Thess Dobbs

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, Thess Dobbs. Currently teaching at Milwaukee School of Languages, Thess was recently awarded the Edyth Sliffe Award for Distinguished Teaching in Middle School and High School. Read on to hear more about what she’s been doing since graduating!

thessI teach high school math at Milwaukee School of Languages (MSL). At MSL I also lead the math club, which I started in 2014. In this club, we work on more challenging math that goes above and beyond the standard curriculum. Our students have the opportunity to wrestle with challenging competition-level problems and receive guidance to help them build their skills. Through fundraising we make all activities free or low-cost for our students, and we are proud to make these opportunities, often reserved for privileged students at elite schools, accessible to our students. The racial disparities in the STEM fields begin with the inequities in our school systems, and the process to end those disparities must also start with our schools.

Originally, I am from Milwaukee and grew up with a lot of brothers and sisters. My dad is a professor, and both my parents placed a strong emphasis on learning. Being a big sister made me a natural teacher. The Noyce Program gave me more hands-on experience than the typical pre-service teacher has. It wasn’t until student teaching that I really had to learn how to manage a classroom, but the relationships built during my field placements helped me maintain my confidence during the hard times later on. Thanks to the amount of time spent in field placements, I also got a good sense of the school culture of a few different schools.

Even though we aren’t in touch as much as we used to be, I feel the bond still exists between the Noyce Scholars in my cohort. All the formative experiences we shared as undergraduates are not easily forgotten. One person who inspires me is my grandma, Leona Sherrod, who passed away three years ago. She taught in public school for eighteen years, and taught for eighteen more years in prisons’ adult education programs. Though she is gone now, I’m glad she got to see me become a teacher too.

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Becoming a Social Studies Teacher

This post originally appeared on Dr. Gibson’s Medium page.

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“painting of man” by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

By Melissa Gibson

The other night, I had an anxiety dream. In it, I was conducting research at an international school on its approach to civic education (you know, part of what I do in real life). My host was a teacher I know well, with whom I’ve worked in Peru. But before I could get started, he said I needed to meet with the principal. I entered her office, where another social studies teacher was waiting; across from us, the principal sat at her large desk, her head slung down while she napped. Worst nightmare of a job interview EVER.

Eventually, the principal jolted awake and leered at both of us. Our college transcripts were in front of her. She inspected each, and then looked at us with disgust: “Why would I hire YOU, either of you, to teach social studies when you do not even have good survey history courses on your university transcript? How can you even pretend to be social studies teachers?!” The other woman, who was clearly interviewing for a teaching job at the school, began to explain how her high school offered a plethora of college-level survey courses, and so when she got to college, she was able to move into advanced history seminars. She showed off her flashy knowledge of dates and names, and then went down a wormhole about some 1800s Navy admiral she was obsessed with. She ended with a summary of her students’ AP scores for the past twenty years. The principal nodded, clearly assuaged.

Then she turned to me. “What about you, little miss interdisciplinary?”
I gulped. I began my usual explanation of what it means to have studied Women’s Studies as an undergraduate, the various social science lenses on the same questions. I showed her on my transcript the “surveys” of sociology, history, literature, political science, but how they were all focused on questions of gender. And as I explained what I had studied, I grew more animated in my explanations of how I study these topics. The principal seemed unimpressed.

Gathering steam, I tried to give a narrative of how I came to this place in my intellectual career: I talked about not seeing myself in the curriculum (or in my classmates) and seeking academic spaces that honored the questions I was asking as legitimate intellectual inquiry. I talked about questioning dominant narratives, and moving back and forth between the various disciplinary cannons and critical theorists and scholars. I talked about my discovery late in life of how thrilling history can be when it is more than a collection of dates and names. I may have shown her the syllabus to my methods courses. I definitely showed her the documentaries and podcasts and blogs that my students have written in my social studies classes.

Eventually, she relented, agreeing that while my training was non-traditional, I clearly knew how to ask questions and get students to do some work (there may have been a tirade about lazy millenials and the ills of technology). She looked about to nod off for a nap again (and I really wanted to ask a snide question about what work she did if she spent so much time napping), so I mustered the courage to ask permission to conduct my research, which she granted. The next thing I knew, the dream had morphed into a murder mystery complete with chupacabras, and instead of conducting research on civic education, I was helping high school students escape some murderous blob-ghost thing, which liked to strike during football games. Also, there were rickshaw rides and a lack of child care for my own children so…definitely an anxiety dream.

School is finally back in full swing here in Milwaukee, and we are hunkering down at Marquette to dig into the meat of our courses. And on the eve of these intellectual journeys, I guess my sub-conscious needed to pause to reflect on what it means to be a scholar of social studies education, especially when one isn’t a traditional social scientist or historian. I talked my own imposter syndrome down in the dream, as evidenced by the principal’s relent, but I woke up aware of that always present feeling of self-doubt. Which, believe it or not, is important for me to hold onto. Not because it’s a valid self-critique but because it reminds me of how my pre-service teachers may feel in my methods courses and in their placements—not quite the real deal. And that self-doubt can be paralyzing. Part of my job as their methods instructor is to help them see the multiple ways that we can become scholars of teaching, and that our most powerful intellectual tools are the questions we ask.

This publication, which we will add to throughout the school year, is a record of their journeys learning to ask good questions. Along the way, they will uncover resources, stories, places, and instruction that just may help you become a better social studies teacher, too—whether this is your first year teaching, or your fortieth.

This is social studies. Not a collection of dates and names, but a way of inquiring about the world. We hope you’ll join us on our journey.


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