Will Pequigney ‘20 attended the NC State College of Education’s EdTalks: A Celebration of K-12 Education event last October to support Freebird McKinney, his former high school social studies teacher and the 2018 North Carolina Teacher of the Year. Pequigney had already planned to be a teacher, too, but his interaction with McKinney that night reshaped the kind of teacher he now sets out to be.
“I could see in his eyes, the same spark that I had seen six years ago in the classroom,” Pequigney said. “I realized in that moment that I wanted to be that for someone. I wanted to inspire people. I wanted to see people grow without me but because of me.”
When Pequigney transferred to NC State from Appalachian State the summer before his junior year, he knew he wanted to be a math teacher. He started out at NC State as a mathematics major and quickly added math education.
“I started taking education courses and fell in love with them. I met other math education majors and really found my people,” he said. “I found people who care about their work, care about their futures and care about education.”
For Pequigney, pursuing a career in math education gives him a chance to work with a subject that he loves and puts him in a position to benefit others.
“Math is a language that is understood around the world. Different cultures have their own connections and processes, but in the end it is all the same,” he said. “Learning math seems to be an expansion on my worldview and only broadens my interests across all subjects.”
As a math education major in the NC State College of Education, Pequigney has had many opportunities to work in local classrooms and gain experience in the field. It was his experience in Intro to Teaching in Today’s Schools that helped him realize teaching middle school was not for him.
His second field experience was also special to him. Pequigney served in an English language learners math class, where he helped students with dissimilar mathematical backgrounds.
“My lead teacher, who was a recent NC State graduate, gave me opportunities to teach, to help, to grade and to observe,” he said. “Their help and the amazing students reinforced my love for teaching math.”
Having the opportunity to work in the field and gain experience in the classroom has affirmed Pequigney’s decision to pursue a career as a math teacher. He plans to teach mathematics for three to five years before enrolling in a master’s or doctoral program.
“NC State has done an amazing job preparing me for a career in education,” Pequigney said. “They care about us and about the students we will guide, influence and educate. [My education courses] have prepared me to help students and perform my job as a future educator to the best of my ability.”
And he hopes to have the same impact on the lives of students as McKinney had on him.
“When envisioning the future, I see myself creating a better community,” Pequigney said. “I want to be fulfilled, I want to help, I want to build. The future is not centered around money or material, but centered around my values.”