Name: Sunni Samuels
Department: Math Dept.
Education: University of South Carolina
Years teaching: 3
Year started at MBHS: 2000
Previous Jobs: Clothing saleswoman, McDonalds clerk
Sunni Samuels laughs a quiet, refined laugh frequently. The color-bursting, jam-packed walls do not reflect the serene atmosphere that is evident wherever Samuels is present. With a soft, clear voice she begins to talk about her experiences of being a math teacher and an individual.
Samuels has lived most of her life in South Carolina, where she went to college and graduate school. There she developed a devotion to education. After having a "very inspiring history teacher," she thought she would become a history teacher herself. "Until college, being a history teacher sounded like a good idea but when I heard that a math degree would let me become more versatile, I changed my major."
One of Samuels' favorite aspects of teaching is "meeting different students and having them look up to you. By being professional and knowing my subject hopefully they see it and set good goals for themselves."
Samuels chose to teach high school students because she believes she can relate to what teenagers are going through. "I was a cheerleader for the football and basketball teams, I worked at McDonalds," she recalls.
So far Samuels has taught Algebra 1 and Algebra 2. "I wouldn't mind moving to pre-calculus or calculus, but I cannot do geometry. I find that math teachers either have a great handle on it or struggle with it. It's more shapes than actual numbers," Samuels says.
One student, back in South Carolina, has had a long lasting effect on Samuels after a comical event in her classroom. "I had this one student who was blind and looked like he was 7 years old in seventh grade. He fought all the time," she describes. "During a warm-up he heard something bad someone was saying, pulled out his walking stick, figured out what direction [the insult] was coming from and hurled the walking stick as hard as he could across the room. It almost hit the other student. I should have been upset but I just couldn't stop laughing."
Some of Samuels' hobbies include reading and listening to hip-hop when she is "chilling."
Looking ahead in her career, she wants to move up the educational ladder. "Later in life I eventually want to teach junior college courses. I will also go back for a PhD in Urban Education," she says with confidence. "Urban education would help my teaching because this is considered an environment," she explains.
One of the difficulties for a teacher is the time constraints, believes Samuels. "There is so much material and I want to teach for understanding, so I must figure out the most important parts to spend time on." Her advice for other teachers is to "make a time, maybe four-thirty, and when the clock hits four-thirty you say to yourself, ‘It is time to go,' because you are never finished your work when you are a teacher."
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