N.C. Teaching Fellow Hannah Watlington ’22: ‘I Want to Help Students See the Beauty in Math’
Hannah Watlington ’22 always enjoyed taking math classes and helping her classmates in math courses, even though she’s not the best at math, she says. That’s all the more reason why she plans to be a math teacher.
“I know math is one of the subjects that tend to get labeled as extremely hard or boring, so I want to help students see the beauty in math instead of viewing it as a difficult subject they are forced to take,” Watlington said.
Watlington grew up a Wolfpack fan and always wanted to teach. Once she decided on math as the content area, the NC State College of Education was the only choice. “The NC State College of Education has a great reputation for producing great teachers, especially in STEM subjects,” she said.
Plus, NC State is one of five schools that hosts a North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program, which provides up to $8,250 per year in forgivable loans to students who teach in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or special education in North Carolina public schools.
Being a part of the Teaching Fellows at NC State program has made it possible for Watlington to attend NC State and prepare to become a mathematics educator. She also receives other scholarship support, including the Jerry and Elizabeth Godwin Scholarship and the Dr. Estelle E. White Endowed Scholarship, which are further lowering financial barriers.
“The [financial] support has taken away the stress of having to worry about taking out loans and trying to get a job while being a full-time student,” she said, adding she has had time to participate in enriched learning opportunities outside the classroom she otherwise would not have if she had to work.
One such opportunity was traveling throughout eastern North Carolina as part of the We Teach for NC trip last spring. She and 23 other students, including many Teaching Fellows, experienced what a typical day was like in schools in Eastern North Carolina and meet with K-12 students, teachers and administrators in Craven, Lenoir, Onslow and Wayne counties.
“I have grown so much more confident in myself and my abilities with the help of the Teaching Fellows program,” Watlington said. “I enjoy getting to know all of the other students in the program and being able to take part in all of the great experiences offered.”
This semester, she is also participating in the Provost’s Professional Experience Program (PEP), which funds on-campus work experiences that emphasize research and career development. Through PEP, she serves as a tutor at Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School, one of NC State College of Education’s partner schools.
These various activities are helping her build and apply her skills, as well as develop connections with teachers and principals across the state.
“We have access to so many different events and activities that contribute to our professional development, and we have discussions during our classes that help us gain different perspectives and help each other grow as future educators,” she said.
Watlington plans to take what she’s learned in the classroom and use it to make a difference as a high school math teacher in a rural or high-needs area in North Carolina.
“I want to be the type of teacher who inspires students and helps them enjoy learning,” she said.
“I also want to be the type of teacher whom students feel comfortable going to if they need anything because I have always valued those types of teachers. I know how important it is for students to feel supported.”