Teacher Spotlight: Brianna Sommer

Pinquoch Brianna
Brianna Sommer

Secondary Mathematics Teacher:
Central High School, Omaha Public Schools

It all comes down to being “flexible,” says Brianna (Pinquoch) Sommer. After exploring several possible career paths in mathematics throughout college, Sommer landed in the MAmt program. Now, Sommer has learned being a mathematics teacher is all about thinking on your feet.

“I wanted to be a mathematician until I was 12, and then thought about being a statistician. As an undergraduate in mathematics, I saw a booth for becoming a math teacher at a career fair at UNL. I knew right away that it would be perfect. I like having my degree in mathematics, and I was excited to have a higher degree before becoming a teacher,” Sommer said.

Sommer also found it rewarding to work as a tutor in college.

“I really liked helping others learn mathematics,” she said. “I really hoped to have my enthusiasm for mathematics rub off on some of today’s youth.”

The MAmt program caught her attention because of the yearlong internship.

“Combining our practicum with student teaching throughout one full year is wonderful training for the actual career,” Sommer said. “Another perk of the program is having a support network. We were a small group so we grew very close over the year and still talk today.”

Sommer and colleague Molly Jensen both student-taught at Omaha Central High School and both were hired there as mathematics teachers in 2012.

“Not only were the Noyce Teaching Fellows prepared for the classroom, they were also prepared for the Central classrooms they now teach in,” said Dr. Keith Bigsby, former principal at Central High. “Their knowledge is second to none.”

Sommer said the program taught her how to use collaboration, relationship building and variety in teaching – and, most importantly, to focus on the students.

“The students are the reason for teachers, so we have to try our best to meet their needs,” she said. “All students can learn, and teachers must strive to make that happen. Effective learning requires respect between the teacher and students. Building positive relationships with students is the best way to earn this respect. Learning happens best when students feel safe and accepted.”

A native of Blair, Neb., Sommer graduated from high school in Murray, Neb. She fell in love with math at 5 years old and never looked back. She even had contests with her older brother in which they would write long division problems for each other and race to solve them.

“If you want to teach, or are thinking about teaching, the MAmt is the best way to get there,” she said. “I love my students, and I love talking about numbers each day. I couldn’t imagine ever having a more rewarding job.”