NIMBioS is pleased to introduce Kelsey Bratton, our education & outreach intern who began her work here in January. A junior in mathematics at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Bratton is enrolled in the VolsTeach program, which enables students to graduate with teaching licensure. She recently accepted a continuation of her position for the summer and fall semesters. In the following interview, learn more about what inspires Bratton, her future plans to teach mathematics, and her work at NIMBioS.
Why did you decide to participate in the VolsTeach program?
At first I was apprehensive about being in the VolsTeach Program. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be a high school math teacher or an elementary school teacher. I have a passion for both. At my freshman orientation, I met Jada, the VolsTeach recruiter/coach. She encouraged me to consider VolsTeach. I like the idea of being able to graduate in four years with a math degree and a teaching license, but I still was not certain that I didn’t want to teach elementary school. After my freshman year, I decided that I did want to teach high schoolers, so I quickly got myself enrolled in the Step 1 class for VolsTeach. That was the perfect thing for me. VolsTeach has provided and will continue to provide opportunities that are ideal for a teacher-to-be. Everyone is friendly and helpful. It is a great program to be a part of!
What have you been learning so far at NIMBioS?
Since I have been at NIMBioS, I have primarily been working with Biology in a Box materials. I have been looking through the exercises and activities of each unit, and analyzing what math topics are addressed. Then I take those math topics and figure out what Common Core State Math Standards (for Tennessee) apply to each grade level. This way, when teachers use the Biology in a Box program, they have easy access to the Tennessee Common Core Math Standards that apply to each activity. I really enjoy being a member of the the NIMBioS team! Everyone here is helpful and kind. There are great things going on here, and I am thrilled to be a part of all of it!
What drew you to the field of education?
I have always wanted to be a teacher. Like I mentioned before, I wanted to teach elementary school. That was all I ever thought about doing. I do think that I would be a great elementary school teacher; however, I truly feel that I made the right choice in choosing high school math. I like the idea of helping teenagers learn difficult math skills and watching their knowledge in the subject expand. In the summer of 2012, I was an assistant at an algebra camp for incoming high school freshman who needed extra help to be able to be enrolled in algebra 1 that fall. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. It was also a wonder learning experience for me. Those students were thirsting for someone to believe in them. When I become a teacher, I want to encourage students to pursue a higher education and let them know that they can do anything they put their mind to!
What are your current plans for after graduation?
After I graduate, I plan on becoming a teacher. I can hardly wait to have my own classroom and watch students become brighter, one math problem at a time. I think I would be perfectly happy returning to my hometown to teach if they’ll have me, but I will be happy anywhere.
Do you have anyone who inspired you to pursue education, or who has
inspired you in general?
All my life I have wanted to be a teacher. I believe it was because my mother is a third grade teacher, so the occupation always appealed to me. She always let me dream about being a teacher even though it seemed like everyone around me told me not to because of the pressures and the stress of it all. I appreciate her not discouraging me. Also, when I was in high school, I had a math teacher who inspired me in so many ways. Her name is Pattye Post. I never hated math because it always came easy to me, but her classes challenged me. She somehow, without meaning to, made her class fun. I only hope that someday I will be able to be as great as she is.