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Digging Deeper

Thursday, December 10, 2020

She grew up in Alberta and Nova Scotia, but she considers Nanchang, China, her second home. After earning undergraduate degrees in pure mathematics and education, Alyssa Schultz Dey took a leap of faith and accepted a teaching position at the Nanchang No. 2 High School Sino-Canadian Nova Scotia International Program in southeastern China.

A unique educational partnership between Nova Scotia and China offers the Chinese students in Schultz Dey’s school the opportunity to study a Nova Scotian curriculum before pursuing higher education in Canada. “I was grateful for the opportunity to go abroad while still teaching the curriculum that I completed as a student,” said Schultz Dey. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she now serves as the Mathematics Department Head.

While Schultz Dey faces her fair share of day-to-day challenges at work, particularly the need to engage both gifted and struggling students in the same class period, she finds genuine joy in the work of teaching. “Teaching has been an incredibly rewarding career,” she affirmed. “It has always pushed me to get better and better at making difficult concepts click.”

Schultz Dey always knew that she wanted to pursue a master’s degree, but it took extensive research to discover the right fit. “I was looking for a program that would not only help me improve as a teacher but also refresh and increase my own understanding of mathematical concepts,” she shared. Schultz Dey came across the Master of Mathematics for Teachers (MMT) program at the Faculty of Mathematics at the same time she was helping her students register for the University’s math contests. “I sensed that the program would give me an opportunity to dig deeper,” she said.

As she reaches the halfway point of the program, Schultz Dey has already noticed a difference in the quality of her teaching. “The MMT program has changed the way I approach problems,” she explained. “My courses push me to prove why my final answers are true, not just come up with a final answer, which is exactly what I push my students to do. The education I have received has directly translated to the classroom.”

The MMT program has also given Schultz Dey a deeper knowledge of the course material she teaches. “The program goes below the surface of what we would teach in a regular high school curriculum,” she affirmed. “It has even given me the chance to study several subjects that I regretted not taking in my undergraduate years.” At the same time, taking classes focused on calculus has sharpened her grasp of the concepts she teaches every day in the classroom. “I’m always finding new motivation to improve going forward.”

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