Rebecca Jackson '91
High School Teacher
Department of Mathematics
Walter Payton College Prep
"I followed a career track that attracts too few math majors - I am a high school teacher in Chicago and, after eleven years, it's still the best job in the world. Obviously, the math BA helped me, in that I can sometimes answer my students' questions about more advanced mathematics and it reassures employers that I actually know secondary math, but the overwhelming majority of the math I teach is math I learned in high school. Probably the most immediately useful content I got from math classes at Swarthmore was from the math modeling class - I am teaching a class by that title now without the assistance of a text or colleagues, and I didn't take many science classes, so that was really the course where I learned to apply my pure mathematics to all kinds of other contexts. I even follow that professor's lead in pushing actuarial science >:) Of course, I'm also using Sketchpad and Mathematica and the Math Forum because I discovered them at Swarthmore, and it was while TAing a calculus course with Uri Treisman that I got bitten by the teaching bug. Probably the primary thing I gained from all those hours of proof-writing, though, is my irritating habit (in faculty meetings) of insisting that people name their assumptions and precisely define their terms.
And from the Walter Payton College Prep website:
Ms. Jackson received her Bachelors in Mathematics from Swarthmore College and then earned her teaching certificate at the University of Chicago. She has taught in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and at Homewood Flossmoor High School in Illinois. While her pre-service education focused on pure mathematics, at Payton she has emphasized math applications. Ms. Jackson has convinced local professionals to tutor her in optometry and surveying, has spent two weeks at NASA's Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center. In addition, she returned to grad school in "fiber science", ..., all in her quest to enliven her math classroom. Ms. Jackson is anxious to start an Operation Snowball substance abuse prevention program and she eagerly anticipates putting Payton's planetarium to use.