NAUTeach Featured Students


Brian Patterson

Everyone knows that Arizona schools do not have enough highly qualified Mathematics and Science teachers. To meet this need, Northern Arizona University's NAUTeach program offers Science and Mathematics majors a highly focused, streamlined series of education classes designed to add an Arizona Teaching Certificate to the Bachelor of Science degrees they are already earning.

Brian Patterson is an NAUTeach student poised to inspire Arizona high school students with his love for mathematics and sports, just as his teachers and sports coaches inspired him at Glendale High School. At Glendale High Brian was proud to play on the basketball team for Coach Stafford, who, as Brian says, "really whipped us into shape." Coach Stafford taught Brian and his teammates that consistent effort and hard work pay off.

Brian's high school Mathematics teacher, who was also the coach of the golfing team, taught Mathematics lessons in compact 15 minute segments and gave short homework assignments. Brian feels that the short lessons and assignments were a great way to keep the students focused and interested, and prevented them from feeling overwhelmed by a subject many people dread. It is a technique he plans to use when teaching mathematics to his own students.

At 6:00 am on Tuesday and Thursdays, you will find Brian on the basketball court at a Flagstaff high school, shooting hoops and having fun with several high school teachers, university professors, and peers. He hopes to combine teaching Mathematics at the high school level with coaching. His spirit of fun is infectious. It is a quality that makes him approachable. Brian hopes his future students will feel comfortable asking him for help with their coursework. He looks forward to showing them how to break big problems into manageable components, giving them encouragement and confidence to chip away at the problem until it is solved. When asked what gift he would most like to give his future students, Brian smiles and says, "I want to show them that anything is possible, even math, if you just put your mind to it."

Cassie Schumacher, an NAUTeach Student

Cassie Schumacher

Phoenix native and NAUTeach Mathematics student, Cassie Schumacher, is on the verge of realizing her childhood dream of becoming a teacher. As is true for many of us, the path that led her here had a few twists and turns. When initially choosing her college major, Cassie abandoned the idea of becoming a teacher as impractical because she heard that teachers do not make a good living. Instead, she majored in Exercise Science with the plan of becoming a physical therapist. Though she is an avid long distance runner and was on the cross country team in high school, her Exercise Science classes failed to inspire her.

Cassie changed her major to Mathematics because she loves math, though she still did not have a clear career plan. Several friends and family members suggested she become a math teacher. Finally she allowed herself to seriously consider teaching. The thought of really becoming a teacher excited her, but her ambivalence remained. Cassie sought the advice of former teachers. They told her that teaching is a vocation, one you build your life around rather than use as a means to attain a coveted lifestyle. If you feel passionate about it, go for it. Then she heard about a new program at NAU called NAUTeach.

NAUTeach offers students the opportunity to try out teaching early on so they can see if it is right for them. Cassie took the initial NAUTeach classes and discovered that she really does love to teach. Her eyes shone as she described how she hopes to help kids gain confidence with math and to show them that they can do it. "Anyone can do math," she declared, "if they are motivated and they have the ight guidance." Soon Arizona will have a new, highly qualified, enthusiastic young math teacher.