I have facilitated many sessions around establishing a math department mission and vision and began to realize the importance of having a personal mission and vision. Through this process, I realized the lens I see the world through is identity and relationships. When I reflect on my identity as a student, I see the impact the adults in my life had on how I viewed myself. When my teachers believed in me, I looked forward to their class and worked hard to learn. When I didn’t think my teachers believed in me, I dreaded class, procrastinated, and the content just didn’t connect. I am thankful that enough teachers believed in me that I grew into the math education career I serve in today. Although I taught from Grade 8 through Trigonometry, I was consistently assigned students with little confidence in mathematics and themselves. I was driven to figure out what barrier was preventing them from recognizing their greatness. Today, teachers are equipped with the work of Dweck and Boaler, so I hope today’s educators are not repeating the mistakes I made in my efforts. My vision is an educational system that is designed to positively impact students’ mathematics identity and productive disposition, support educators’ professional efficacy, and promote equity and diversity in the field of mathematics so that all students have access to and engage in grade-level content that prepares them for the future they desire.
I was introduced to professional organizations in college by education professors who encouraged us to stay current on research and best practices throughout our careers. As a classroom teacher, that message was supported. I was blessed to be part of a passionate and collaborative math team. We attended Arkansas’s annual conferences together and created a fun, hands-on math camp for our incoming 8th grade students. Since I taught 4 different courses each day, I benefited greatly from those who had already done the research and shared their engaging, exploratory mathematics lessons in conference sessions. Not only did I bring those bring back to my classroom, I noticed patterns in those lessons and began creating my own. I continued exploring and sharing the creative side of mathematics when I transitioned into a new role as a regional math specialist. Since NCTM and the Arkansas affiliate, ACTM, supported me so well as a teacher, I did not hesitate to get involved with NCSM and the Arkansas affiliate, AAML. Being exposed to so many great leaders, I began to notice their behaviors and what they did that inspired me. They actively sought out potential leaders to encourage, inspire, and equip. I wanted to pass those feelings on to others. Although I’m still growing as a leader (and always will), there is a whole next wave of leaders I can grow with as we journey together. I have been blessed to mentor others in my role as a regional math specialist, later as a district math coordinator, and now in my consulting role with a non-profit equity-focused equity organization. Regardless of the title, the passion hasn’t changed and NCTM and NCSM have fulfilled the expectations of my college professors – and continue to do so.