For our September 2020 Alumna of the month, the graduate school at the College of Charleston is pleased to feature a recent graduate of one of our education programs. Heather Crider graduated from the University of Charleston, South Carolina in May 2020 with a Master of Education in Science and Math for Teachers. Currently, Heather is a middle school math and science teacher in the Charleston County School District.
Heather had recently moved to Charleston when she made the decision to earn an advanced degree. Since she was simultaneously working as a middle school teacher, she needed a program that would accommodate her professional schedule. It was this need for flexibility that originally drew her to the College:
Pursuing my graduate degree at College of Charleston allowed me to take in person courses in the evening and offered an opportunity to get to know downtown Charleston. I loved being able to walk the beautiful campus!
Advanced degree options for educators are plentiful, but only the University of Charleston, S.C. allows students to explore Charleston while also capitalizing on the unique opportunities and resources only available in the Low Country. In regards to the Science and Math for Teachers program, some of these rare experiences were among Heather’s fondest memories:
I completed a marsh study at James Island County Park, took a hike to explore the longleaf pine ecosystems in Francis Marion Forest, and virtually explored the surface of the moon and Mars using NASA technologies.
There is no denying that being an educator is a challenging profession. Many times, the frustrations seems to exceed the rewards, resulting in an abundance of burnout. With a mission to create more passionate math and science teachers, the University of Charleston, S.C. is the only institution to offer a program of this caliber. Through a curriculum combined of content, leadership, and pedagogy courses, the SMFT program gives teachers the techniques and skills to face any adversity head-on:
The most challenging part of my job is balancing state and school district expectations (standards, testing, etc..) with time available and best teaching practices. My experiences at CofC have definitely helped me feel prepared to handle these challenges. I have learned a multitude of new strategies and activities that offer engaging ways to find this balance. In addition, everything I learned at CofC have been research based strategies, which have given me the confidence to support my own shifts in teaching and encourage my colleagues to adopt new strategies and techniques as well.
Heather continues to enjoy her work as a full time middle school teacher with Charleston County, and she attributes the Science and Math for Teachers program for building her confidence as an educator and opening the door for more opportunities:
I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed the SMFT program and how useful this degree has been to my classroom teaching. Every course I took in the SMFT program offered relevant and implementable new knowledge, strategies, and activities that I have incorporated into my teaching ever since.
Proving to be a leader in the classroom as well as among other educators, Heather recently contributed to the Post and Courier regarding her opinion on the pandemic and when it is safe to resume in-person classes. She exudes the passion for captivating future generations with science and math. She exemplifies the mission of the SMFT program as well as the University of Charleston, S.C. So, it was a natural fit to feature her as the September 2020 Alumna of the Month.
We are extremely proud to be able to call Heather a CofC Cougar. Keep up the great work!