CSMCE | Profiles

Karen Clinch assists a Fremont High School student

Karen Clinch

New Teacher Network, NebraskaMATH

Secondary Mathematics Teacher
Fremont Public Schools

"When am I ever going to use this?” – the ongoing question of high school students in mathematics class.

For Fremont High School mathematics teacher Karen Clinch, the New Teacher Network courses gave her the ammunition to reply.

“The classes gave me ideas of how I can incorporate real-world situations into my mathematics questions, so when I get that age-old question, I have an answer,” the Lincoln native said. “The New Teacher Network helped me gain confidence in my trade. The courses went deeper into the subject as well as gave hands-on ideas to help students, giving me many different tools to use.”

Clinch earned her Master of Arts for Teachers degree from UNL in August 2014, after starting the New Teacher Network in 2012. Currently in her fourth year of teaching, Clinch teaches Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus.

In her first year, Clinch struggled with classroom management. Thanks to veteran teachers who were instructors for the New Teacher Network, she has quickly become a much improved teacher.

“I am now able to build camaraderie with my students in the first couple of days of teaching. New Teacher Network gave me ideas for activities to do the first couple of weeks, and these activities help start the school year out right,” Clinch said.

“Students are able to build relationships with other students in the class so cooperative activities go more smoothly. My class sizes are big so the more cooperative activities I can do the better, so students can help other students. Through the New Teacher Network, I was able to work with wise teachers who had been teaching for a while.”

During her undergraduate education at UNL, Clinch said she learned a lot about the classroom and got ideas of how to run it, but after actually being in the classroom, she found she didn’t know half of the problems she would face. The New Teacher Network allowed her to discuss these problems with other teachers who were not only having the same experiences, but also taking the same graduate classes.

“It was nice to hear about what others had tried,” Clinch said. “Now that I have technology activities, cooperative activities and more efficient ways of teaching concepts, I am able to pay more attention to my classroom management. In turn, my classroom stays on task, learns more material, and students are successful.”

Growing up in a family of teachers and engineers, Clinch started out as a civil engineering major but ended up making the switch to mathematics education. The time she spent as a 4-H camp counselor working with kids persuaded her to want to teach math, which has always been her favorite subject. “I have a new view of what a math class should look like, where students reason and make sense of the material, as opposed to just have notes and then have homework,” Clinch said.

"I teach mathematics, but I also teach skills so students can think for themselves. Problem solving is a big part of mathematics as well as life. Students should be allowed to question and wonder why and how mathematics works.”