They are also friends who found one another in their STEM teacher education cohort where they supported one another as each managed the full demands of learning a discipline (math, biology and chemistry, respectively), developing the capacity to teach, paying the bills and supporting the families that mean so much to them. The College of Science and Mathematics is proud to send these science and mathematics educators to neighboring Passaic. In no time we expect to see their students become star students in CSAM.
Steven Herrera, Passaic, NJ, is graduating with a B.S. in Mathematics with teacher certification. He brings to his work as a teacher a lifetime of mixed feelings about school, promising the capacity to empathize with both enthusiastic and reluctant students. What he loves about math is the content.
It isn’t boring to me. I love the challenge of a hard problem and being able to make sense of the confusion.
With many memories of being bored in school, Steven is focused on returning to his hometown of Passaic to excite students’ enthusiasm, and to be the kind of teacher who deeply engages learners. Already familiar with a long day’s work, outside of planning his lessons and finalizing his teaching position, Steven is focused on financially providing for himself and his parents.
From Clifton, NJ, Valeria Montoya has accepted a position as a Biology teacher at Passaic Preparatory Academy. Graduating with a B.S. in Biology with teacher certification, Valeria has loved science since she watched The Magic School Bus as a child. The first in her family to join the teaching profession, Valeria has been intent on teaching for many years, undeterred by the occasional discouraging comments she has heard along the way.
I love biology so I find it fun to talk about it in creative ways. The more I teach it, the more I will learn it, too.
Valeria is relieved to have full-time employment so she can help her family and be on secure financial ground.
Lauren Shahine, the chemist of the threesome, hails from Lodi, NJ and has accepted a position at Passaic Academy for Science and Engineering, ready to follow the example of her own high school chemistry teacher, Ms. Hansen, who ignited her passion for chemistry by showing how “so much of the world can be explained through chemistry.” Lauren has always wanted to be a teacher, though it was only while at Montclair State University that she finalized her decision to teach chemistry rather than music. The recipient of the Outstanding Award in Chemistry, Lauren expressed what she is focusing on now:
I’m finding ways to make my lessons engaging…keeping things interesting rather than lecturing or doing the same activities over and over again.
Congratulations to these excellent students who exemplify superior teacher educators whose passions for teaching are only matched by their passions for their scientific disciplines.