Going into my senior year, I realized what I might want to do for a living when I get older. I’m seriously considering a career as a math teacher for younger students. Coming from a Baltimore City public middle school, the private school environment is a huge change. My experience in middle school was filled with memories but the education I was getting was filled with nothing. The teachers at Saint Joe make sure you understand the material and are willing to meet with you if you don’t understand it.
Ms. Jenna Gallagher is one of the mathematics teacher at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, Maryland. She has been teaching at the school for four years, and has definitely had an impact on my learning of math. Over the course of my four years at MSJ, I have had Ms. Gallagher as teacher once for Algebra II.
To find out more about the experience of being a math teacher, and the path to becoming a teacher in general, I talked to Saint Joe math teacher, Ms. Jenna Gallagher. Also, I wanted to understand why and how she became a teacher. It can be hard sometimes choosing the right career path, but if you know a few things you might want to do, you can narrow it down after you have finally decided. “When I went into college I knew that I wanted to major in either math or education. I ended up majoring in math because the school that I chose had a good math program. After I graduated from college, I decided that I wanted to put math and education together and I became a math teacher.”
“I had a difficult time choosing a school during my senior year of high school. I narrowed my options down to UMBC, Mount Saint Mary’s University, and the University of Delaware. Out of the three options, UMBC had the best mathematics program and was financially the best option.” In the transition from high school to college, choosing the right school to go to can be a tough decision, but if you choose right, it can lead you to your calling in life.
Another factor teachers have to put into play is what kind of school to teach at. “When I decided on UMBC, I did not think that I was going to become a teacher. I had decided that I was going to major in math and I thought that I was going to use my math degree in some other manner. When I graduated, I realized I did not necessarily want a job in the mathematics field and then I decided that I would look into private schools.” Whether that be at a public or private middle or high school or a public or private university is up to the teacher. Generally speaking, public school teachers get paid more than private school teachers, and college professors get paid more than the two.
Mount Saint Joseph has a reputation for having a good teaching environment. Most of the teachers at St. Joe have been at the school for over five years. Gallagher is in her fourth year of teaching at MSJ, and the students recognize that she is doing a good job in growing into the life of the school. “MSJ has offered me many opportunities to improve as a teacher. One of the main things that they have provided me with is the opportunity to go to graduate school and grow as a professional. Since I have been at MSJ, I have obtained my Master of Arts in Teaching. This has helped me because of all the feedback that I was able to receive.”
Teachers can also help shape the character of their students. Connor Rudel, a senior, said, “I would describe myself as a hard working persistent student because I always go to teachers for help when I need it and I continue to go until I understand. I persevere through all my hard work.”
Rudel continued, “Ms. Gallagher is a great teacher and she explains everything in depth. And she doesn’t teach vaguely and she makes sure all of her explanations are clear. Her teaching environment is relaxing so you don’t ever feel like somebody is on your back. You don’t feel rushed while she is teaching you.” Ms. Gallagher interacts with her students and enables them to get involved during class. If the student doesn’t understand some of the material, she makes time for them to see her for before or after school tutoring.
At St. Joe, students often have the opportunity to have a teacher again for a different class. The teachers at MSJ usually teach more than one class and depending on the course selected by the student, they could have the same teacher again. Some students would like to have a teacher for another year but are sometimes unable to. “I would definitely choose to have her as a teacher again, because on Junior Retreat I got to know Ms. Gallagher a lot better than I did before and in class, you don’t really talk about personal things. I developed a better relationship with her over time. And she made math a lot easier for me.”
It is obvious that Ms. Gallagher is positively impacting the lives of her students on a daily basis. From class, to retreat experiences, to organizing the Sarah M. Roach tutoring that students participate in, Ms. Gallagher shows her dedication to the school and to her students in everything she does. But of course, if you are struggling with your math, she is always available to help you through that too.
Justin Cruz is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.