I grew up on a small farm in Central Texas, the third daughter of the vocational agriculture teacher at the local high school. The realities of chopping cotton and farm work in general instilled in me the strong desire to excel academically, so that I could get off the farm. With no internet or cable (back in the day), I read...a lot. Scoring a 1470 on the PSAT as a junior earned me a National Merit Scholarship. Going to state UIL in science ( I placed Third) led to a Welch Scholarship and a required major in Chemistry at college. I also majored in Math and graduated from Southwestern University with a 4.0. I then also scored really well on the GRE and the Chemistry GRE, which earned me a National Science Foundation Fellowship for graduate school. I received my PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from Texas A&M University in 1984, married a fellow PhD chemist and went on to work in the chemical industry for the next 30 years while raising two daughters through orchestra, dual credit, AP courses, SAT's, ACT's, GRE's, PCAT's and MCAT's. Having two daughters really brought home to me how much I enjoy teaching. Throughout their educational journey, I tutored them and their friends, revisiting all the math, chemistry, physics, biology, and English subjects I had ever taken.
Teaching is in my blood, so to speak. Both of my parents were teachers, so I grew up seeing both sides of the process, as well as helping to grade papers. I was given an early opportunity to develop my own skills in teaching when I started college. Since my undergraduate institution,Southwestern University, had no graduate program, undergraduates were used as teaching assistants. As a freshman in college, I was immediately given a job teaching the recitation section for the non-technical general chemistry class, which was known among the students as "Kitchen Chem". While it was unusual for a freshman to get a job as a teaching assistant, this was an even more unusual situation, for, not only was I essentially giving the “review “lectures for this class, I was also writing and grading the multiple choice exams for the professor. Thus, early on I was given a high level of responsibility and autonomy. The professors for my own classes at Southwestern University were superb, imparting not only a rigorous understanding of the subject matter, but also, at the same time instructing me in the subtle arts of teaching. As a sophomore, I taught the freshman chemistry lab for technical majors, quantitative and qualitative analysis. As a junior and senior, I was teaching the organic chemistry lab. In graduate school, I continued teaching labs: general chemistry for majors, chemistry for non-majors, organic chemistry for the technical majors (engineers and pre-meds), and organic chemistry for non-majors (affectionately referred to as “Cowboy Chem”). In addition to supervising labs, this included writing quizzes, grading quizzes and reports, and assigning grades. Toward the end of my degree, as I was finishing up my dissertation, a need arose for an organic lecturer, and I was hired to teach a full load of organic chemistry for the technical majors, two classes of ~100 students each, along with supervisory responsibility for multiple lab sections. I taught for a year and a half before taking a research job in the chemical industry. While there, my teaching duties continued with group meetings, safety presentations, research presentations, and new hires, not to mention helping the kids with homework and tutoring friends, neighbors and their kids when help was needed in chemistry, math, biology, or physics. Now that my kids are mostly launched, I've decided that it's time to apply my teaching skills to help other parents and their kids.
Southwestern University - Bachelors, Chemistry and Mathematics
Texas A & M University-College Station - PhD, Synthetic Organic Chemistry
What is your teaching philosophy?
Although the complexity of the instruction varies as needed, I do have some objectives for my students that are uniform throughout. In addition to conveying the required knowledge, my goal when tutoring is to inspire the student. My first objective is to spark the student’s interest. If I can engage the student’s interest, learning becomes less of an effort and more of a quest. I also always try to make connections between the subject matter and the real world. For instance, in chemistry, something as simple as how a match works is sufficient to open many students’ eyes to the world around them and elicit an absolute torrent of questions. I want my students to regain the questioning outlook from childhood, but with a new realization that they can find out the answers themselves. For some, this comes easily. For others, this is new and uncharted territory. My goal is to show my students that math and science aren't just something that happens in a classroom, but rather are vitally important for understanding the world around them.