Congratulations to Katina Tole, a secondary education and mathematics major, for receiving this year's President's Medallion! Katina has been a mathematics major, a member of the Loyola dance team, a tutor for at-risk school children, an active volunteer on campus, and more. We sat down to ask her a few questions about her time at Loyola, her drive to be a Mathematics Educator and her experience as a mathematics major at Loyola! Check out her President's Medallion profile here!
What drove you to pursue Math as your education focus?
- Ever since I was in 6th grade at Lundahl Middle School (LMS), I knew I wanted to pursue math as one of my majors in college. During that year at LMS, my teacher really brought the math to life and it was so inspiring. One way that really stood out to me was a project where we created, marketed, and sold an object or a service. My project idea was fuzzy pet ornaments! I remember I went to the store to buy all the material, and then I made 4 unique fuzzy pet ornaments, decorated a poster for marketing, and determined the price per ornament based on the cost of material and service. This project had so many elements to it and I just fell in life with the fact that it all involved math!
What do you like about it now - if different from above?
- As I have grown older, I have always loved problem solving and especially with math, where you are solving a problem with one correct answer. It always amazed me how there are multiple ways to find that one answer, but when you find it, a feeling of pride just comes over me. Finding that one true answer motivates me to complete more problems and take more math courses. It is such a gratifying feeling and this is also one of the main reasons why I love teaching math. I love sharing that rewarding feeling with my students! Recently, this year, I was also awarded with the Illinois Council Teachers of Mathematics Scholarship and I loved being in the same room with a group of math teaching professionals who loved math as much as I do!
What has been your favorite Math class at Loyola? Hardest?
- My favorite math class at Loyola is a toss up between Calculus 1 and Calculus 2. Those were my first two math classes at Loyola taught by the very best math teacher on campus, Dr. Doty. Dr. Doty is an amazing professor and definitely made my first few math classes a positive experience. He highlighted and reinforced my love for math through his ability to give the right level of challenging material to his students without having us get frustrated and then give up. That is something that still sticks with me today; there is a fine line between challenging and frustration.
- The hardest math class I took at Loyola was definitely computer programming. That class just used a completely different side of my brain then I have ever had to use before. Dr. Haught helped my determination to understand the coding process, so needless to say I saw Dr. Haught many times during her office hours. Through this challenging course, I did learn how to rely on my professor for help. She was always very welcoming, which is an attribute I want my students to feel from me while I am their teacher.
How does the math curriculum (emphasis on critical thinking and proof) inform your student teaching?
- Proofs and critical thinking are major parts of my student teaching experience. I prompt my students to constantly ask questions about the topic we are learning in order to keep them critically thinking. I love when my students ask 'what if this?’, ‘What would this look like?', ‘Is it possible to solve it this way?’ When I have my students asking these critical thinking questions, I need to have the proofs/ answers ready for them. I need to anticipate the various critical thinking questions that my students might ask and make sure I have the correct and complete understanding to answer those questions.
What math subjects have you taught so far through your student teaching, and what has been the most fun to teach? The most challenging?
- This year I am student teaching at Niles West High School in an Algebra 1 classroom and an Advanced Pre Calculus classroom. Both of these classes bring their own challenges and their own successes. Algebra is a little easier for me to teach since I feel I have truly mastered those skills. It is fun for me to think of new ways to teach my students algebra and I love using new technology to enhance the way I am teaching. Also, it is easy to show how important algebra skills are with real world examples. Thus, application problems are very easy to develop and explain.
- Advanced Pre Calculus definitely has its challenges since I have to ‘reteach’ myself these skills. To prepare lessons for this class, I am completing the homework I assign every night. It's gratifying to see that when I teach this class I finally fully understand the meaning of each unique part. Since I want to make the point as clear and as exciting as possible while not confusing anyone, my preparation for teaching in Advanced Pre Calculus definitely takes longer than preparing for Algebra. It is important for my students to discover for themselves the material thus, I need to create these lessons accordingly.
And, finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
- I hope to be living the dream: high school principal, married, and raising children. It’s also important for me to work near where I live so I can be invested in the community. I loved having some of my high school teachers living in my neighborhood. It was always a pleasant surprise to run into them outside the classroom, and I hope to do the same with my students one day.