STEM TeacherVictoria University of Wellington, MAOberlin College, BA
email: rebecca.gordon [at] sonomaacademy.org
phone: (707) 545-1770 x3418
Becca, our newest STEM teacher, has mathematics in her blood. “Both of my parents were math professors,” she says, “so we would play games like, ‘2x+1’ when were were on road trips.” But despite being immersed in algebra from her earliest years, Becca’s path to becoming a math teacher was not a straight line segment between points A and B. Her varied background makes her uniquely suited to teaching math to a broad range of students—perhaps it’s why she earned the title “The Calculus Whisperer” at her previous school.
As a student at Oberlin College, Becca majored in English and Theater. “I think that my education in the arts and Humanities informs my teaching style, because I’m always looking for a story,” she says. “I think that it’s really helpful for students to understand that there are multiple ways to get to the same answer to a problem, and that what really matters is how you think about the problem—not necessarily getting to the ‘right’ answer right away.”
A traveler at heart, Becca spent time road-tripping through the US and traveling the world after college before landing in New Zealand. “I fell in love with it there,” she says, “and it changed the course of my life.” Becca enrolled in graduate school at Victoria University, where she wrote a thesis on landscape in colonial Victorian literature. While she was a student there, she found she was missing math, and began tutoring students. “I found that I could explain concepts in a way that students could grasp them even after they had been struggling for years,” she said. It was this experience that led her to pursue a teaching credential in both English and math.
When Becca returned to the States, she was hired to teach math at Newark Academy, a college preparatory school where she taught for seven years. She has always loved the outdoors, and when she planned trips with her husband, they found that they were pulled to the West. “When we went on road trips, it just seemed that things got interesting after we crossed the Rocky Mountains,” she says. “So we decided to move, and then the job at Sonoma Academy arrived at exactly the right time.”
So far, Becca has been embracing her experience here. “The trust that is given to both students and staff is amazing,” she says, “and both students and staff are able to have a lot of autonomy. I also really appreciate that I have chances here to show others about what I know, beyond math. I will be leading Outings trips, helping with theater, possibly teaching a knitting Exploratory... and learning new things is encouraged here, not just for kids, but for teachers, too.”