Teachers are the heart and soul of education. They ensure that the future generations have the tools necessary to be successful members of society. The New York State Master Teacher Program celebrates the work of the highest-performing STEM teachers by establishing an expert community dedicated to developing expertise in the areas of content, pedagogy, and students’ families and communities.
Bridget DeMarse is a master teacher from the North Country. She graduated from Jefferson Community College with an Associates in Liberal Arts – Science & Math, SUNY Oswego with her Bachelors in Adolescent Education 7-12, and SUNY Potsdam with a Masters degree for Educational Technology Specialist. She is in her eleventh year as a public school teacher in LaFargeville, NY (LaFargeville Central School), while has also spent the same amount of time as an adjunct instructor at Jefferson Community College.
Like many college students do, Bridget went into college with an interest other than what her career became. When first starting college, she began a nursing track. “I remember how worried and anxious I was going back to school at 26 years old,” she told us. “I had been out of school for awhile and was in some pretty foreign territory. At some point during my nursing school, I made a decision to switch gears and become a Math teacher. My counselor at JCC made it a very seamless transition for me.”
To help her adjust to adult learning, the teachers at JCC were very important to her getting on track to success. We all have a professor or faculty member whose help and guidance changed our life. For Bridget, that was Dr. Chebolu at Jefferson Community College. “He was the first professor I came into contact with when I started school,” Bridget said. “I remember being very nervous around him at the beginning. I was taking his Chemistry class and really wanted to do well. He would call on me to answer questions and knew exactly the right amount of pressure to put on you to lead you to the answer on your own. His is an amazing teacher.”
Bridget is now taking those elements that helped her and bringing them into her own classrooms. One thing that excites Bridget about the future of teaching is the push for STEM education. She has always had an interest in the applicable nature of STEM lessons.
As a teacher who found her way after trying other career paths, she is often asked for advice from similar minded students. One of her regular pieces of advice for current students who want to go into teaching is to “be yourself and don’t listen to the negativity. If teaching is something you truly love, you won’t work a day.”
What a great tip, which is so true. Find something you love to do and it won’t even feel like work. Instead you’ll find yourself being challenged in the best ways day in and day out and getting rewarded for your success. Just like our New York State Master Teachers.
Sarah Petrak is a student assistant with the Office of Communications and New Media for SUNY System Administration. She is a studying Public Policy at the University at Albany.