Brooke Penner - 2009 Winning Essay

Brooke Penner

I am currently enrolled in an integrated B.Sc/B.Ed program. I want to be a high school mathematics teacher. My goal is to ensure that each of the students in my class achieves competency in basic mathematics. I have found that a lot of adults have virtually no mathematical aptitude at all. This is evident at the grocery store when the cashier cannot figure out what my change should be on her own, or in the fact that cell phones now come equipped with programs to calculate how much you should tip at a restaurant. I disagree with the idea that if you are not naturally gifted then you just cannot grasp mathematics. Natural talent is obviously an asset, but anyone can master fractions, even if the idea of it may make many people cringe. I hope to help students achieve in mathematics by making the curriculum more relevant.

I have overcome many obstacles. I became a ward of Child and Family Services at 16, dropped out of school, got pregnant at 17 and the father of the child was arrested for domestic abuse shortly after my daughter was born, leaving us in a women's shelter. As a new mother I wanted everything for my daughter so I went back to high school and I am now in my third year of university. I am completely independent, but there is a heavy financial burden associated with my education, and I hope your organization can assist in the realization of my goals.