Cool Girls with Tag: education

Nancy Marchant

Name: Nancy Marchant
Age: 37
Location: Raleigh, NC
Occupation: Subject Matter Expert, Math/Statistics

Statistician and mathematician Nancy Marchant designs ways for students to understand the intricacies of subjects that most people find challenging. As an educational technology maven, Nancy creates step-by-step textbook problem tutorials that can be found online so that students can hone their skills in areas that they are struggling with.

“Originally, I wrote code for math and stats textbooks so that students could do their homework online and get graded instantly. This involved solving the original problem given in the textbook and then adding code so that numbers could be changed around, but the problem-solving process would remain the same and not be harder if a different set of numbers were used in that same question.”

Now this “Graph Queen” codes and creates new ways for students to relate to math and statistics through educational technology, which is a pleasant off-shoot of her former job as a high-school math teacher.

“After a few months of being a math coder, I wished I had been able to use something similar while I was teaching. Grading takes a lot of time, and anything I can do to help free up time for teachers so they can do research, create new materials, or spend extra time with their students is worth me not being in the classroom. I miss being in the classroom, but enjoy being able to still be in the field of education,” Nancy explains.

When she was growing up, Nancy always loved computer lab games like Number Munchers, and was fascinated by geometry and trigonometry. It was her high school band teacher who motivated her to explore teaching as a career choice, but she found that the part of education that she loved – explaining how to do something – was nearly overwhelmed by the other aspects of the job.

“The non-teaching aspects that come along with this profession took more effort than I anticipated. It wasn’t enough that I had lesson plans and a rough idea for specific units, I had to have organization practices set in place for each class period I had, and then for each student within that class. There was definitely an “Oh…” moment upon realizing that not everyone loves math and that teaching was more than standing in front of a classroom full of students spouting off how to do math,” Nancy recalls. “It was a lot of work to create engaging and meaningful lesson plans so that students would want to put in the effort.”

But following budget cuts in the public school system, Nancy found herself looking for a job, and it was then that she applied for a temp position as a “math coder” to create those step-by-step accompaniments to textbook questions. There she discovered how to combine tech and math in a novel way.

“For some questions this meant coding graphs, which I developed a deep love for. It became a challenge to mimic the exact appearance of a graph or geometric figure in a textbook – not just the functions that were used (that’s easy), but using the exact same colors, down to the specific RGB color code,” she explains. “This has morphed into taking a mathematical approach of breaking down images into geometric shapes; think back to books on how to draw anything from elementary schools – everything is comprised of circles, ovals, and maybe a couple of lines here and there. A strawberry frosted doughnut with sprinkles is nothing more than a beige circle with a white circle in the center, a filled in pink polar curve, and a bunch of multicolored points.”’

Yum! Math!

These days, Nancy is learning that her profession is more necessary than ever, as the world adapts with the migration of in-class academics to learning remotely.

“I very much enjoy working in educational technology where I can help take some of the more tedious tasks off instructors’ desks, like grading and extra tutorials, and I would like to continue finding new ways to do this, especially now that teaching and learning online are becoming increasingly necessary,” Nancy says.

So what does this donut making mathematician have to say for girls who might be struggling with the subject?

“Don’t be afraid of math! Math is more than just playing with numbers and solving for x, it’s about learning to apply logical steps to solve a problem. It may take some extra time and practice to understand, but so does reading a long book. Math is a beautiful language that builds on itself.”

For her work creating online learning opportunities, and for injecting creativity into math and statistics, we think Nancy Marchant is a very Cool Girl!

Lindsay Amer

Cool Girl Lindsay AmerName: Lindsay (Lindz) Amer
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Artist/Activist

Artist and activist Lindsay Amer has turned the world into a stage for all audiences and actors through her Queer Kid Stuff edutainment YouTube channel. Lindsay has dedicated her young career to bridging the gap in theater and education for LGBTQ+ kids.

As a theater student in Northwestern University, Lindsay learned the ropes in producing for younger audiences, a skill that she honed during her Masters program in performance studies overseas. It was during her graduate studies in London that she stumbled upon an area that she was passionate enough to turn into a profession.

“I was learning new techniques and I started growing frustrated with the limitations theater presents, particularly for the kind of work I’m trying to do that gets censored by schools,” Lindsay explains. “I was watching a lot of YouTube at the time and thought that would be a good platform for what I wanted to do. I googled “what does gay mean?” out of curiosity and found that the only things that came up were a dictionary definition and a few resources for parents and teachers, but there was nothing specifically made for kids. I wanted to make a digital resource actually made for the young people who might ask google that question. And I just checked and our very first video pops up now in that search!”

For Lindsay, it was merely a process of trying to entertain and inform young audiences who are often deprived of certain inclusive, queer storylines as they’re growing up.

Cool Girl Lindsay Amer's Show Queer Kid Stuff

“I’ve been doing queer work for kids since undergrad, but I started in theater first where I was making new work for young audiences. I just fell in love with all-ages storytelling and saw a gaping void in LGBTQ+ content and themes in the work,” Lindsay recalls. “The first time I encountered a piece written for young people with a queer protagonist, I was completely blown away and I knew it’s what I had to start working toward. I’ve pretty much been doing this work ever since.”

Most recently, through the wide audience of digital media, Lindsay and Queer Kid Stuff have been able to reach more and more people, and to inch closer towards their goal of “a kinder and more equal future.” That’s not to say that the broad horizon of the internet has been entirely filled with admiring followers. Lindsay still is constantly reminded of the discrimination and stigma that queer people, young and old, still face.

“I get a lot of online harassment, but, to be honest, I’m kind of over it at this point. There’s so much systemic oppression working against queer people, women, and trans/non-binary people and talking about it all and creating narratives around it is still incredibly taboo,” she says.

By using art as advocacy, even when confronting trolls, Lindsay is able to fulfill her creative dreams and help other young people learn how to feel comfortable in their own skin and society.

Beyond her internet videos and her day job, Lindsay is also looking to bring her vision to the stage. “I’m directing and writing a play for my theater company! It’s Bluelaces Theater Company based in NYC and we make immersive sensory-based theater for people on the autism spectrum and other developmental differences. The show’s all about imaginary trains! It’s cool!”

So what advice does this YouTube star have for anyone starting out in artistic or advocacy endeavors?

“If you love it, do it and be it. Don’t listen to what other people want you to do, or think, or say, or be. Listen to yourself and your wants and needs and just do you. You’ll be so much happier for it.”

We think that Lindsay Amer’s work bringing Queer Kid Stuff to the masses makes her one Cool Girl!

See, read, and hear more of Lindsay’s work on her YouTube channel, website, and Twitter.

 

Jami Swindell

Name: Jami Swindell
Age: 33
Location: St. Louis, Missouri and Urbana, Illinois
Occupation: Doctoral Student, Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant, College of Education, Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Teaching Assistant and Doctoral Student Jami Swindell took to teaching before she was even out of school, finding her way into early childhood education prior to graduating high school

“I actually started teaching swimming lessons at the local community pool as a teenager. I really liked teaching the classes with the youngest children where we “learned through play” with games like Mr. Frog and Splash-around-the-Rosie.” Jami explains. “From there, I was able to work as a pre-school assistant and school-age teacher at a small child care center in my hometown.”

Continuing on her compassionate path, Jami began working with children who had special needs in a local child care center.

“I found myself making sure that all the children were included in activities, planning activities to meet the needs of the children who needed more support,” she says.

Working with a diverse demographic throughout her academic career, she went on to take part in the Child Development Lab at the University of Missouri and the Child Development Center at Missouri State University, focusing her studies on children with special needs and their families. It was from there that she decided to also extend a helping hand to professionals within special education through Project BLEND.

“Project BLEND focuses on preparing professionals within Early Childhood Special Education and Early Intervention for infants and toddlers with special needs,” Jami explains. “It supports professional development to blend practices within the fields of Early Childhood Special Education and Early Intervention to support interactions between systems, smooth transitions for families and shared policy or advocacy efforts.”

It also acts as a facilitator bringing research into practice, while championing those strategies that have been proven effective within Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education. It helps those professionals within the field gain experience at the local, state and federal level while also providing opportunities to participate in teaching, research, and service, including internships and shared research projects. It’s a collaborative approach, providing information, services, and training, while also remaining engaged with the families and special needs children within the community.

Jami spends much of her time in the classroom, either as a student or a teaching assistant. She also works as a research assistant for a statewide training program that provides webinars, meetings, and training collaboration for early intervention providers. Beyond her work, she is also a member of on campus committees, including acting as the Vice-President for the Special Education Graduate Student Association.

After her doctorate is completed, Jami hopes to create policy and sustainable systems grounded in research-based practices within Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education.

“I hope to continue to share my knowledge on child development, family-centered practices, and inclusive educational practices with other professionals through teaching and providing workshops at conferences. This leads to my other goals – traveling, building connections within the field while supporting my friends and family in meeting their own goals!” Jami says.

And what does this student educator suggest as life-based homework for young girls out there?

“Aim high, set your goals and make plans to achieve them! Rely on those who love and support you when you need them. When you reach one goal, make another and work hard to achieve it!”

Some sage advice from one wise teacher, we think Jami Swindell is one Cool Girl!