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Baylor Hosts Panel Discussion on "Teaching Mathematics as a Career"

Cathy Seeley, past President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (and a former plenary speaker at a recent Central Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in Waco) says that "being a teacher is the most important job on the planet, and mathematics opens doors to all kinds of options for students".

On September 16, Baylor University hosted a panel discussion on the topic of "Teaching Mathematics as a Career" to a standing-room only crowd in Draper 139. This was a joint venture between the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education and the Department of Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences.

In the United States and especially in Texas there is a critical shortage of qualified elementary, middle, and high school teachers of mathematics. President Obama recently said "Teacher quality is the most important single factor that influences whether students succeed or fail in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math". And former President George W. Bush said that "global competitiveness starts with improved math and science education for American students".

Jointly promoted by the School of Education and the Department of Mathematics, this event was organized and coordinated by Dr. Baxter Johns (Department of Mathematics) and Dr. Douglas Rogers (Associate Dean, School of Education). The seven members of the panel were moderator Dr. Edward Burger (Visiting Professor in the Department of Mathematics and the Robert Foster Cherry Professor for Great Teaching), Dr. Tommy Bryan (Department of Mathematics), Dr. Rachelle D. Meyer (Department of Curriculum and Instruction), Oscar Perales (Graduate student), Karen Hassell (Waco ISD), Vicky Brown (Teacher, University High), and Christi Carson (Teacher, Lake Air Intermediate). Among some of the topics that the panel discussed were

• current and future opportunities in the teaching of mathematics

• degree programs for prospective mathematics teachers

• certification issues

Since the panel consisted of teachers ranging from elementary school to the university level, part of the discussion between the panel and the audience centered around what it is like to be a teacher in mathematics from K-20.