CSMCE | Profiles
Noyce Teaching Fellow, Master of Arts with an Emphasis in Mathematics Teaching
Middle School Mathematics Teacher
South Sioux City Community Schools
Laura Janssen was on track to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. While she loved learning higher-level mathematics, she found herself feeling “unfulfilled,” she said.
While she knew she wanted to be a teacher, Janssen did not want to give up on her Ph.D. program to earn another bachelor’s degree. However, the MAmt program solved that problem for her.
“Because of the MAmt program I was able to earn a dual master’s degree in just two years. Plus, the courses were tailored for secondary math teachers and taught by experts in the field,” Janssen said. “Although I plan to be a life-long learner of mathematics, I have found my true passion in fostering an enthusiasm for math in my students.”
Janssen, who graduated from UNL with a degree in mathematics, currently teaches at South Sioux City Middle School in South Sioux City, Neb.
“I love working with middle school students because they haven’t decided whether they’re good at math, and I get to be a part of helping them see their potential,” she said.
Janssen said she tries to do as many hands-on activities as she can with the middle school students.
“One day I brought all of my pots and pans in so we could find the ratios of their circumference and diameter – spoiler alert: it’s pi!” Janssen said. “I’ve found that giving my students a mathematical experience is much more worthwhile than practicing the same procedure over and over.”
Originally from Redwood Falls, Minn., Janssen always loved math while growing up.
“I remember asking my parents to give me math problems to solve and staying after school to get challenge problems from my teachers,” she said.
The MAmt program helped Janssen learn to take her love of mathematics and apply it to the classroom.
“I came away from the program with a solid understanding of current mathematics education research, and I knew how to implement research-based teaching strategies in the classroom,” Janssen said.
“The MAmt program prepared me to walk into the classroom feeling confident about my instructional and content knowledge so I was able to focus my energy on building relationships with students.”
For Janssen, the combination of the courses and yearlong internship was invaluable.
“I believe the MAmt program has set me on a path toward becoming a teacher-leader in my school,” she said.