Boosting student confidence in math
Tanya LaMar, MA ’12, PhD ’22, fell in love with math because of the way it made her feel. “I felt so empowered when I saw that I could be successful at it,” she says. “Once I understood that math was about critical thinking and creativity—not memorization and rote procedures—that switch made all the difference.”
As a math major at Cal State Long Beach (and the first in her family to get a college degree), she wanted to help other students get the same sense of confidence from math that she had. She earned her master’s from the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) and taught math for five years at a low-income high school in South Central Los Angeles. During her first year she was granted a prestigious Knowles Teaching Fellowship, awarded to only about 35 early-career math and science teachers across the country each year.
In 2017, she came back to the Graduate School of Education to begin a PhD program in math education. “I’ve seen firsthand the injustice in how our education system fails students,” she says. “I’ve had students who worked so hard and didn’t get what they needed. These are systemic issues, and I want to have a role and a voice in changing that.”