Melanie Gerling graduated from the UCI CalTeach Science and Math Program in 2012. She has been teaching mathematics at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School for the past five years. At the recent CalTeach alumni gathering, she reflected on her educational journey.
November 2, 2017
When I entered UC Irvine as a freshman in 2008, I had a much different plan in mind than when I left. I started out studying ballet as a Dance Major but also had a love for mathematics – I wanted to do something with math, but just didn’t know what that would be at the time. I took a job as a math tutor - not because I had an interest in education, but because I knew I was good at helping others with mathematics. After about six months of working at the tutoring center, I realized how much I loved the challenge of creating different ways to convey mathematical concepts that were individualized to how my clients learned mathematics. In that moment, I knew I wanted be a math teacher. I looked into teaching credential programs that UC Irvine offered, found the CalTeach Science and Mathematics Program, and enrolled in their first course.
My experience with the CalTeach program was beyond extraordinary. Kris Houston and Terry Shanahan provided each prospective teacher with vast insight and individualized support and encouragement throughout the entire program. The wide range of courses that CalTeach offers prepares prospective teachers for what they will encounter in their classroom (i.e. differentiating lessons to meet the needs of students with wide ranges math and language proficiencies, and learning modalities). When it came time to start my career as a teacher, I felt confident with my ability to teach whatever course was placed on my roster, wherever I was hired.
I am currently in my 5th year of teaching at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates, California. In the last few years, I have integrated dynamic geometry software (GeoGebra) within the Geometry courses that I teach. Most recently, I led professional development sessions at the district level on how to incorporate GeoGebra in math classrooms, and I plan to submit and share my work with GeoGebra at the CMC South Conference in Palm Springs in 2018.
As an educator, I am constantly seeking opportunities to expand my knowledge and understanding and share what I have learned. In August 2017, I graduated from CSU Long Beach with a Masters in Mathematics, specializing in Mathematics Education for Secondary School Teachers. Now I am serving as a new teacher mentor in the South Bay area for the California Teacher Induction program (formerly known as BTSA).
After many years in my own classroom, I hope to become a Master Teacher in a program similar to UC Irvine’s CalTeach program. I am passionate about math education, and I wish to spread the knowledge that I gain from my classroom experience with the next generation of math teachers.
I am very grateful for the CalTeach program, what that they offer their prospective teachers, and what they continue to offer to their alumni. I cannot thank UC Irvine and CalTeach enough for everything they have done for me!