Interview with Ms. Quinn

Ms. Quinn, the newest addition to the UHS math department, shares her knowledge and experience in both the military and teaching worlds.

Q: I heard you were in the military, but what made you decide to become a teacher?

A: When I was in highschool … in my honors pre calculus class I thought about being a teacher because I always used to help people out. It briefly flitted through my head but then it was followed by “oh gosh they don’t make any money i’m not doing that. Then I went into the military, worked at some financial institutions when I got out, then decided to have my kids when I went back to school. I went back originally to be a pharmacist. They made me sit in an equivalent of a college algebra class due to being out of school for so long and there were a couple of young people in there that were really struggling. The professor was not good… I heard the two people struggling behind me and I turned around and said “you don’t need to know any of this you just need to know this this and this” and the two young people were like “why didn’t he just say that?” That was the day that I changed my mind-because I wanted to make math more accessible.

Is there any aspect of the military that you miss?

Yeah, the community, the traveling. I was in the navy and we deployed for six months at a time and having roughly 400 people in my squadron go somewhere with a joint mission and vision in what you want to accomplish. Working in such close quarters and working such long hours you really build a bond… but you build a bond in that situation that you just don’t get in other areas of work.

What exactly did you do in the military?

I was an aviation electronics technician so I worked on all of the onboard electronics including, infrared systems, radar, navigation, radio, those kind of things.

What’s your favorite part about being a teacher?

I actually love working with teenagers, I think you guys are so fun… you guys keep me on my toes, the questions you ask I think are very interesting. So, I just really enjoy working with young people.


Do any of your own teachers influence how you teach today?

Yeah, they definitely did. I had two teachers in high school, one of them was my ap biology, physiology/anatomy type class, her name was Ms. Bennett and then I also had a math teacher that I had for two years who was just fantastic, her name was Ms. Green. They had such a love for what they did and I went to an inner-city high school, very very  poor, gangs, drive-by shootings, you know those kind of things, and these women would always open their doors early and were always good at checking in with people on a fairly regular basis, and they legitimately cared plus I really liked their style of teaching too.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who might be thinking of joining the military or becoming a teacher?

For joining the military, probably talk to someone who has been in in the military. I would say both on the officer side and the enlisted side because it is a very different life: choosing to go in before you have a college degree vs. after. I would say they both have pluses and minuses. The other thing is that to research, when I joined the military I had no idea what jobs were available…I didn’t know you could go into the military to become an air traffic controller as an enlisted person, I didn’t really really know about intelligence specialists. I don’t know If I would’ve chosen differently but it would’ve been nice to have those options. As far as teaching as concerned, realize that you’re gonna put in more hours than it looks like… starting a new class, if I build up the first year then it will make the subsequent years easier. The other really important things as a teacher, you need to set and communicate very clear expectations to your students and stand by them. Don’t waffle on them because if you do it looks to the students like you have no structure and that’s not a comfortable place to be.

Does UHS differ from any other school you’ve taught at?

It does… I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the foundational math skills that students here have. It makes teaching new things so much easier when you know they’ve got the ground level stuff already. In my previous experience, you could have so many varying abilities in one classroom… It’s really nice to know that I can make references that a vast majority of students are gonna get, gonna know.

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