Amy Spears (Biggs), SBU Mathematics Alumnus
"I am amazed daily at the different aspects to how my education at SBU has helped me out in my career. I started my college career at a community college, then transferred to a local state university. I received my basics in those first two years, but I received the highest quality from SBU.
I found SBU on the internet, Valentine's Day night 1998 (I know what a way to spend Valentine's Day), but God is always out there with the greater plan. When I made my decision to attend SBU, it was a big step for me. I am the youngest of three, only daughter and definitely enjoyed living in the St. Louis area.
What I found at SBU, I can honestly say, I have not seen that connection anywhere else I have attended. The first amazing thing to me was that students and professors (even if you did not personally know them) would say "Hi" to you when they would walk past you in the hallway or outside. The professors truly cared about you as a person, not just another number in their class. I have always been one who places high value in relationships, and it was such a wonderful blessing to form those solid friendships with the professors in a way that you could respect them 100% and ask them questions when you were struggling.
I found that I was challenged at SBU. My biggest challenge was learning how I needed to learn to understand a concept. I am a kinesthetic learner, and I need to ask questions to clarify. I can remember my first math class I took, Calc 3 with Coach Bryant. I was a transfer student, so I was new to a class who had been together for a year so I stayed quiet in that class. I will never forget talking with Coach Bryant at the end of the semester about the C I received. He told me I should have received an A. I learned a ton by that C though. I learned that, I am a kinesthetic learner, so I need to do and ask questions to understand, and I don't need to be afraid to ask questions in class.
For those who know me, you would be shocked that I used the term "fear" to ask questions. My other math classes went much better; I still sat up front and asked questions when I needed to. The professors were so much fun and excellent teachers!! They definitely taught me to always make sure learning is being accomplished, but to have a sense of humor while doing it (Mr. Smashey always had his awesomely corny math jokes, ahh, who am I kidding they all did, Coach Bryant and Dr. Hopkins!!). I cannot remember ever being bored in my math classes.
Lastly, the thing that caught my attention the most was the many classes that would have prayer requests at the beginning of every class. Coming from a secular college background and secular school all my life, it was an awesome experience to know that the professors were not just there to teach you, but were also praying for you as well.
Rhonda Credille, who was my life Economics professor always showed an awesome concern and passion for that time in her class, and from the many times I met with her, it was so wonderful to see that is was/is pure. It was in her class that I received the lowest test grade I have ever received. I went to her office and was comforted to find out that she was shocked by my grade as well. She gave me some tips of how to do better next time. I was always prepared for class (test-taking is not always my thing). I used her advice and saw a 50 point increase on the next test.
After graduating from SBU, I taught Math at Lebanon Junior High for a one semester. I then moved back to St. Charles and taught seventh-grade life Science for a year at Francis Howell Middle School.
Since then, I have been teaching at McClure North High School in Florissant, Missouri (a.k.a. St. Louis area). I taught only Algebra 1 for my first three years there. I was highly encouraged to take the Praxis to get certified in high school mathematics as well (grades 9-12). I passed the Praxis Spring 2005, and spent the last year teaching Algebra 1, Algebra 2, ACT Prep Math, and started a new course titled Algebra 3 (seniors only). This past year I was also the department chair of 13 other teachers.
Since 1998, I have managed math tournaments in St. Charles and other locations. Dr. Hopkins let me manage a few in Bolivar, and after I left it to him, he has increased the numbers much higher than I ever could have expected. I managed the Missouri State tournament one year. I was also was recording secretary of the American Region Math League (a.k.a. National Math Tournament). The first year I was at McClure North, I was co-sponsor of the math club (attended many math tournaments with our team), established the Scholar Bowl Team, and the Renaissance Club. The second year, I was the only sponsor of the math club (the other lady retired) and organized the first career night.
I could write multiple stories about the awesome professors and relationships I formed during my two and a half years at SBU. The professors showed me how to truly be a great teacher who cares for their students as a whole person. To say it simple, SBU showed me how to be a great teacher and prepared me in mathematics to be a great math teacher!
I would recommend that current math students get to know their professors. The more you know them and they know you, the more you will learn and the more incredible your time at SBU will be. Trust me, I still stay in contact with some of my professors and even get Christmas cards from them. I would also recommend they take advantage of the many mission opportunities. I went on two mission trips: inner city Chicago and inner city Philadelphia. I can remember SBU bussing a group of people to Oklahoma in 1999 when the tornadoes hit. That was an incredible experience!!"
Amy Spears (Gibbs)