Posts Tagged 'Math Teacher'

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!

Too Smart to Teach? Is That Even Possible?

28588d6aa020ddd47ab1f598e5ef616cBy Kelly Korek – A staple of my senior year of high school was being constantly asked what my plans for after graduation were. When people heard that I was going to go to school to become a middle school math teacher, I was met with either a compliment of how wonderful that is and how we need more good math teachers, the response that I am absolutely crazy to want to teach math to that age, or being told that I am way too smart to become a teacher and should be majoring in something more challenging.

The first two responses I can understand – I appreciate people recognizing the need for teachers and I get that it takes a certain type of person to love math and young teenagers enough to want to teach them. But I cannot wrap my head around why someone would think that I could be too smart to be a teacher. As I have gone through my education coursework over the last three years and my first month as a student teacher, I fail to see how a “less smart” person would be able to do it.

A teacher needs to be smart enough to understand their content enough to be able to not only teach it once to their students but also know how to explain it in multiple ways.

A teacher needs to be smart enough to find ways to engage thirty different people into each lesson and keep their focus.

A teacher needs to be smart enough to know how to adjust their teaching to accommodate for any need that their students might bring to the classroom.

A teacher needs to be smart enough to align to standards, new tests, and every other new requirement thrown their way.

A teacher needs to be smart enough to balance the hours of lesson planning, grading, supervising extracurricular activities, meeting with students outside of class, and still managing to have a life outside of school.

I could go on for days and I am positive that anyone else who has ever spent time in front of a classroom would agree. So please, don’t ever tell me that I am too smart to be a teacher. Instead be grateful that I have chosen to use my intelligence to help your children, nieces or nephews, or family friends. I could have picked to do something else with my life but instead I was smart enough to be a teacher.

Celebration of Teaching: Mrs. Patricia Heim

Author, Sabrina Bong

By Sabrina Bong — When I was in seventh grade, I was certain of two things: that NSync made the best music ever, and that math was the worst subject in the world. My feelings on math only intensified as I began learning algebra.

What kind of person would put letters in a math equation? It seemed like a cruel trick to anyone who disliked the subject. It wasn’t that I was particularly bad at math – I got pretty good grades in it – but since it took longer for me to process and understand, I hated it.

One day, my math teacher asked me to stay a little longer after class to speak with her. I was deathly afraid that she was going to tell me I had just failed a test, or that I clearly wasn’t understanding the concepts. But instead, she asked if I would be willing to tutor a student in math. He was failing the class, and really struggling to understand basic principles.

Mrs. Patricia Heim had been my favorite teacher ever since I started middle school. She was a teacher who truly believed in all of her students, and pushed each of us to achieve our maximum potential. She never just gave us the answers; she made us find the answers. If we went up to her and complained that we didn’t understand a certain math problem, she would walk us through a problem that was very similar and then have us do the original problem on our own. She would spend countless hours after school helping students out. Perhaps I felt the need to say “yes” to helping the student because she had helped me so much.

“I don’t like math though,” I reminded her.

She reminded me that even though I didn’t like math, I still got excellent grades in it. “You may not like it, but you’re good at it,” she said. “And this would really help me out as well.”

I am happy to say that the student I helped passed math that year. But I also learned a valuable lesson. I had started off tutoring the student as a favor for my teacher. What ended up happening was that I realized how much I really love teaching others. It is true what teachers say: there is no greater reward than seeing a student’s face light up when he or she finally understand a concept that they had struggled to understand. Seeing that student’s face when he came in to tell me that he had passed math was incredible.

I am not sure if Mrs. Heim meant to pass on her love of teaching, but she did. She inspired me to continue working with students and help them achieve their best. I hope she would be happy to hear that I continued to tutor in math through high school and college. Now, as a future school counselor, I still work a lot with students and push them to succeed.

Thank you, Mrs. Heim, for showing me how wonderful teaching can be!


Sabrina Bong recently finished her first year of graduate school at Marquette. She is working towards a Master’s in School Counseling. Sabrina also graduated from Marquette in 2011 with degrees in Psychology and Broadcast and Electronic Communication.

Celebration of Teaching: Mrs. Susan Supanich

By Lily Vartanian — Looking back on my past education experiences, I have found that math was never a particularly interesting or easy subject as a student. Yet, my experiences, and particularly one educator in high school, altered my outlook and mindset towards mathematics greatly.

Entering high school as a not-so-confident math student, I had a wonderful Algebra teacher, Mrs. Susan Supanich. Mrs. Supanich—also known as “Mrs. Sup”—became a teacher that not only inspired me to excel in math, but also expected a high level of achievement and effort from each of her students, which also pushed me to success. Although I was already a good Algebra student, that did not stop Mrs. Supanich from challenging my abilities. Mrs. Sup encouraged me to move to an advanced geometry class for my sophomore year. She believed that I could meet the demands that higher math expected—and although I was not given the same opportunities before–I felt supported and prepared by Mrs. Sup.

My junior year of high school, I was placed into Mrs. Sup’s advanced Algebra II with Trigonometry class. I had heard the rumors from previous students of the challenge of the class and tests, but I was ready to tackle it. Yet, just weeks into the class my confidence was crushed after many failed tests and quizzes. Mrs. Supanich offered make-up tests, as well as help before, during, and after school, but the class did not seem to make sense to me. I felt defeated as I moved back to the lower mathematics class halfway through the year, with the guidance and best intentions from Mrs. Supanich. Yet, reflecting on this experience and class, the failure I felt never comes to mind. It is the fact that Mrs. Supanich went above and beyond her call as an educator to help me succeed.  I feel as though I was lucky to experience both extremities when it came to math— there were points where it was easy, and points where it was time-consuming, difficult, and hard work. Mrs. Supanich knew what I was capable of, and challenged me. But she also saw my struggles and endeavors in mathematics, and was there to guide me.

Mrs. Supanich’s true role came to me after my struggles that junior year in math. She gave me the opportunity to tutor one of her freshmen Algebra students, which I had never done before. Through this opportunity, I found that in teaching others, I felt proud and accomplished. I had the ability to help someone succeed, in the same way Mrs. Supanich had for me. I had been in the position as a struggling student, and I could relate; I knew the satisfaction of understanding math, and how hard that opportunity was to come by at points. Without this chance, I would not be on my path to becoming an educator today. Without her dedication and commitment to education, without the hope, understanding, and praise, and without the opportunities, I would not be where I am today.

Mrs. Supanich truly has inspired me and given me the confidence to want to teach others what was once my own “dreaded” subject in school. The imprint she has made on my life makes me only hope that I can be as wonderful of a teacher as she has been as I move forward into my future career.


Lily Vartanian is a class of 2015 Elementary Education and Mathematics major from Shorewood, Wisconsin. 

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