Ruth Meyering brings years of experience back to Grand Valley
Ruth Meyering joined the department as an affiliate faculty member this year, though she is a familiar colleague to many of us; she taught mathematics courses at GVSU for twelve years during the 1980s and 1990s. Ruth graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in secondary mathematics education in 1973, excited to begin a teaching career. Unfortunately, there were few teaching jobs in Michigan (sound familiar?) and she was unable to find a suitable position. Ruth found a job in advertising for Zondervan, a local publishing company, working there four years until starting a family. Ruth decided to resign from her advertising position so she could have more time at home while her children were young, and realized during this time that teaching is her true passion. Ruth returned to Western Michigan University and pursued her master's degree in mathematics with a teaching emphasis and it was there that she met her future colleague Char Beckmann. As Ruth took her graduate education courses, she struggled with applying her theoretical knowledge since she did not have any practical teaching experience beyond her student-teaching experiences. So she decided, at the urging of her fellow grad students, to see if she could teach a few courses at GVSU. Don VanderJagt, then chair of the department, was glad to provide this opportunity.
Teaching part time gave Ruth time to balance home and work life, and she thoroughly enjoyed sharing her passion for mathematics with her students. After more than a decade of teaching at GVSU, Ruth was recruited to teach mathematics at a newly forming charter school, Black River Academy in Holland, Michigan. It was a tough decision because she really enjoyed teaching at GVSU, but teaching and helping to build a mathematics program seemed an offer too exciting to pass by. Furthermore, it would give her the chance to directly apply her knowledge gained through her schooling. Ruth worked long hours, and in addition to teaching at both the middle and high school levels, served as department chair and helped to assemble all the necessary components for a physics lab, building it up from nothing. Ruth learned a lot about herself during these two years and realized that though she was effective at administrative and program-building tasks, her heart was in the classroom. The daily commute to Holland was also long and brutal, and so after two years, Ruth found a teaching job that was closer to home at Catholic Central High School. She spent ten years teaching high school mathematics there and enjoyed both the students and the subject, always on the lookout for ways to help students enjoy and engage ideas. She supported her three children through college during these years, but as the tenth year was coming to a close realized she was tired of the pace of high school teaching. When the opportunity to return to GVSU presented itself, she was delighted to take it.
Ruth strives to create a classroom environment where students feel comfortable and want to come to class. By establishing connections, students can then begin to learn the ideas. The biggest difference Ruth has found in teaching college versus high school is the time pressure - covering all of the topics in a one-semester college course (rather than one year) presents its own challenges. So, all the more, Ruth creates an environment where students can feel supported to meet the exit expectations of the course. Outside of the classroom, especially in spring and summer, Ruth can be found in her garden. She loves to grow flowers and vegetables. And at harvest time, whether fruit or vegetable, you will find Ruth happily canning produce and jams to eat throughout the year.