Math professor 'goes the extra mile' - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
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Math professor 'goes the extra mile'

Math teacher Colleen Thomas

LCC Professor Colleen Thomas has been teaching mathematics for nearly 20 years. Photo by Mallory Stiles

Chloe Gregg

By Chloe Gregg
Associate Editor

Math is a subject that many students are divided over (no pun intended) – some really enjoy it, and others really don’t ever want to take it again.

Out of those who do enjoy it, not many of them are actually interested in making a career out of it. Colleen Thomas, an assistant professor at LCC, is one of the exceptions.

Colleen Thomas is an assistant professors of mathematics who has been teaching at LCC for two years. She has taught in some form for almost 20 years. She got her start as a math teacher in Tanzania as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2002.

Since then, she has taught middle school, high school and college-level math. She has even taught alternative education in multiple areas around the country, as well as in public schools and for non-profit organizations.

Despite her many years educating students, Thomas had never considered a career in the teaching field before college.

“On a whim, I applied to the Peace Corps, responding to a flyer on a bulletin board outside my professor's office (while) waiting for his office hour to start,” Thomas said.

“As a Peace Corps volunteer, I had a particularly excellent math student (who) I asked about their history in math. She told me she hadn't been good at math before we worked together, and that she loved math because of me. I will never forget that conversation; it changed my life.”

Thomas graduated from Albion College in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in math and from the City College of New York in 2009 with a Master’s Degree in math education. She has completed additional schooling at Binghamton University in New York and is currently working toward her PhD in cultural studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

In her free time, Thomas makes sure she keeps busy with loads of different activities.

“I love enjoying nature by walking in the woods or riding my bike on Lansing's paths,” Thomas said. “I also love making artsy (and) crafty projects; recycling old, used materials to make something new.

“Since high school, I have loved to travel. I've visited 47 states and over 20 countries. Michigan is my favorite state, and New Zealand is my favorite country.”

Mallory Stiles, a student in one of Thomas’ offered courses, said Thomas has quickly become one of her favorite teachers at LCC.

“Colleen is the teacher that everyone needs,” Stiles said. “She is lively and upbeat; she knows what it takes to keep kids interested and cares about her students enough to go the extra mile, every time.”

Thomas offered great advice for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in the mathematics field.

“First, take as many math classes as you can,” Thomas said. “Second, find a great mentor. Instructors often know people working in the field and can help you make connections.”

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