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Student Profile: Tim Coffing
When Tim Coffing graduated from high school, he could not have envisioned himself being where he is today. Currently in his second year at GVSU, Tim is now pursuing a mathematics degree with a focus on secondary education. But after high school, Tim saw no reason to attend college, and decided to join the Navy, where he spent five years working as a machinist. It was during this time that Tim initially started to believe that he could learn anything if he put his mind to it.
Following his military service, Tim worked for several years as a mechanic at Kellogg’s in Battle Creek, MI. However, when the company downsized, he was compelled to pursue new career avenues. He began taking courses at a local community college, knowing at the time that he was interested in working with people, but unsure of what subject to focus on. Tim started to find the idea of teaching exciting, as he wanted to challenge young people to set the bar higher than they might have previously thought they could achieve.
At first Tim was leaning towards teaching history, but after taking Basic Algebra at the community college, he became intrigued by mathematics. He liked the mechanics of the subject and enjoyed discussing the material with his fellow students. After taking every math course offered at the school, Tim transferred to Grand Valley to concentrate on mathematics education.
Tim has thought a lot about what it takes to be a good teacher. He has found that when something comes too easily to him, it may be harder to explain the concept to another person. In his own experience with mathematics he has often grappled with ideas in order to master them, and in this way he has learned the value of having multiple methods and approaches to problems, as well as lots of concrete examples. Tim is also a big proponent of forming study groups outside of class when things get challenging.
Tim expects to finish the requirements for the mathematics major in the spring of 2007, and then apply to the College of Education. He plans to teach either junior high or high school mathematics, and eventually pursue a Masters degree, possibly focusing on the psychology of learning. In the meantime, Tim can usually be found sitting with his peers at a table in Mackinac Hall, vigorously scrutinizing the latest ideas from class. We look forward to watching Tim as he achieves his goals.