Sharon Chapman is the kind of person who loves learning. Enthusiastic, dedicated, and fascinated by mathematics and science, she teaches at Amherst Junior High School in Massachusetts. She is Past-President of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Western Massachusetts and is a member of the governing board of the state-wide coalition for the improvement of mathematics education.
Sharon is constantly trying out new ideas in the classroom to get students involved in mathematics. "The school system I work in lets me teach the way I want as long as I get the concepts across," she says. For 12 years, she has been involved in "team teaching," in which she collaborates with social studies, English, and science teachers to present the material in an interdisciplinary way. "It's really exciting to see how much better the students learn when connections are made between subjects," she notes. In the classroom, she prefers a hands-on approach that utilizes physical objects to illustrate mathematical principles, allowing the students to "play around and discover for themselves."
One of Sharon's passions is space science. She finds that discussing planets, stars, spacecraft, and space exploration is a good way to draw students into mathematics and science. Recently she attended a "space camp" for teachers, where she learned about the Hubble Telescope and toured a prototype of the Space Station. "I learned so much," she reports. "I came home with some great curricular ideas and it was a wonderful experience."
Sharon has a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She finds teaching rewarding partly because she enjoys interaction with kids. "They can be so open and uninhibited, you can really have fun with them," she says. "You can see results, and that's very gratifying." She also points out the importance of establishing a connection between the students and mathematics. "If you can make mathematics exciting, interesting, and relevant to their lives, I think they're going to learn," she declares. "And, more importantly, they're going to want to learn."
This brochure was published in 1991, so some information may be out-of-date.