LAKERS TOGETHER: Grand Valley is preparing for successful learning experiences when classes resume on Aug. 31. Learn more about the plan for fall in this handbook.
Christine Lampen, a mathematics major with a secondary teaching emphasis from Hamilton, Michigan, is the GVSU 2016 Outstanding Graduate in Mathematics.
As one who always loved school, Christine knew from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher. Grand Valley seemed like the perfect place to pursue that goal as she was attracted by the Honors College and the fact that it was away from home without being too far. She also had a few influential teachers who had graduated from Grand Valley’s education program, so she knew the program would be a good fit for her.
In high school, learning mathematics always came easily for Christine. At Grand Valley, however, she began to see that mathematics was different than what she had experienced in high school, where there was more emphasis on a procedural understanding of mathematics. Through her university coursework, she came to understand that mathematics was more about recognizing patterns and communicating ideas, and she began to ask about the origin of familiar formulas. She particularly found the mathematics pedagogy courses, MTH 229 and 329, influential in helping her to examine what she had previously learned and to ask why it’s true.
Christine hopes to bring this more conceptual approach to mathematics to her students so that they find greater meaning in learning mathematics. She is currently teacher assisting in Spring Lake at the West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics where she works with middle school pre-algebra and algebra students. Though the school has an arts emphasis, she finds that the students generally like math and that their previous teachers have instilled positive attitudes towards mathematics in them.
Next fall, Christine will begin student teaching in Saugatuck, near her hometown. This is an ideal location for her since throughout her life, Christine has nurtured a love of dance and is currently teaching ballet and tap dance classes in Saugatuck. Though she will be busy with student teaching, she plans to continue working with the middle and high school students in her dance classes.
Christine finds many similarities between teaching dance and mathematics. In both disciplines, she wants to provide constructive feedback to the students and let them know that they can improve through hard work. She strives to create growth mindsets in all of her students so that they recognize that struggling is not a sign of failure, but a sign of progress.
In looking back on her own experiences, Christine says that she didn’t find mathematics to be challenging until she came to Grand Valley and that she felt somewhat unprepared to meet that challenge. She encourages other students to recognize that their experience of mathematics at Grand Valley may be different than their high school experience but that there is a lot of meaning to be found by embracing that difference; persevering through challenges is where some of the best learning experiences occur.
Christine appreciates the welcoming environment of the mathematics department and the opportunity to get to know many faculty members here. We would like to thank Christine for her contributions to our department and wish her all the best as she begins her teaching career.