Math for America honors THHS teachers

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 Ms. Liu and Dr. Mazza attended the MFA Master Teacher fellowship dinner at the Museum of Natural History. Picture taken <br /><figcaption id=Photo courtesy of Sarah Liu

On October 5, math teachers Sara Liu and Stephen Mazza attended an honorary dinner at the Museum of Natural History as members of the Math for America (MFA) Master Teacher fellowship,  a prestigious program that recognizes outstanding public secondary school teachers of math and science. During the dinner, Senator Chuck Schumer gave a speech and Ms. Liu and Dr. Mazza met other esteemed teachers and MFA representatives.

“A lot of people look at teaching as an unglamorous profession,” said Ms. Liu, “but [the dinner] was a nice fancy event for teachers to show that we are appreciated.”

Math for America is an organization whose mission is to improve education in public secondary schools by building an association of outstanding science and math teachers. As the Master Teacher fellowship is a four-year fellowship, about once a month Ms. Liu and Dr. Mazza attend professional development workshops and other events hosted by the MFA. Last year, they attended a similar dinner where Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke. The honor also came with monetary benefits.

”The program supports us for future growth by keeping us up to date on the newest technology and surrounding us with other professional teachers,” added Ms. Liu.

After undergoing an intensive application process, Ms. Liu discovered she had won in 2012 after applying in the spring of 2011.  Dr. Mazza applied in April of 2012 and found out  he had been accepted the following June.

The key component of winning the award is for teachers to  master their subjects and methods of teaching it.

“Most teachers don’t make it through the process,” said  Assistant Principal of Math, Science, and Technology Susan Brustein. “Part of it includes learning the community of math teachers who are meant to be masters. They underwent rigorous interviews, tests, and transcripts.”

Dr. Mazza stated that there were three parts in order to complete the process. First, there was a writing portion where a question was asked about education. Applicants had to write down their goals as teachers as well as observations about their students. Next there was a group interview where a hypothetical situation was given and teachers had to work as a team. Lastly, applicants underwent  individual interviews.

Ms. Liu was “speechless” when she found out she had been accepted and was “proud because of the intensity of the application process.” Despite this, she felt that the application process  helped her grow as a teacher.

“The application itself was very reflective,” she said. “I got to analyze myself in different ways…”

When Dr. Mazza was asked how he felt about being accepted into the Master Teacher program, he humorously stated, “It was nice. It made me feel special for a while until I went and met all the people there and they were so amazing, and then I didn’t feel so special.”

So far Dr. Mazza feels that being a member of the fellowship has been a great experience.

Students of Dr. Mazza and Ms. Liu feel that the two teachers deserved this accolade.

Sophomore Elina Niyazov, who has Dr. Mazza for Trigonometry, stated, “Dr. Mazza understands that different methods work for different people and thus shows us multiple ways to solve a problem. He has a fun, open-minded spirit in class every day and it makes trigonometry not so bad after all. He deserves [this honor] in my opinion.”

Sophomore Ping Tseng, one of Ms. Liu’s students, said, “[Ms. Liu]  teaches everything in a very understandable way, and she’s always making sure that the whole class is keeping up. She’s not the kind of teacher who does the bare minimum of her job but rather cares for her students as well.”