FRESH ECU GRADUATE ECKLER PLUNGES HEADFIRST INTO TEACHING

Ada Junior High School mathematics teacher Chris Eckler (left) works one-on-one with seventh grader Katie Clark.

ADA – Teaching has been an eye-opening, yet gratifying experience for Chris Eckler in his young career.

Just months after obtaining his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a teacher certification from East Central University in May, Eckler has plunged headfirst into what he anticipates as a life-long profession and love.

“It’s definitely eye-opening,” said Eckler, who is less than three months into teaching seventh grade general math and seventh grade honors math at Ada Junior High School. “It’s keeping me busy, but it’s still something I want to do for years to come.”

Eckler has certainly faced challenges in his young career like budgeting time and the extra things in which most people might not think about.

“I think the biggest challenges are staying caught up and grading,” Eckler said. “I think one thing that caught me off guard was being prepared for parent-teacher conferences.”

Eckler, a Robert Noyce Teaching Scholarship winner at ECU in 2011, was the presenter at ECU’s Fall 2013 Noyce Colloquium on Wednesday at the Regents Room of the Memorial Student Union. The topic of his discussion was “Five Things Every Teacher Needs to Know about Teaching Junior High Mathematics.”

Eckler’s day is filled with teaching two honors’ math classes and four general math classes, two of which he has another teacher assisting.

“Those two classes are to help kids who need a little push,” said Eckler. “With the honor kids I have to be careful that they don’t outsmart me.”

Eckler’s ECU educational experience has prepared him, particularly in regards to technology and methods.

“I think the (ECU) Education Department did a great job of showing technology that can be used with the classes,” Eckler said. “In my methods class, I learned how to set up a substitute teacher’s plan book and a lot about lesson planning.”

His love of ECU stems from a caring faculty and activities he’ll cherish for a lifetime.

“I loved ECU…Once a Tiger Always a Tiger. It meant a whole lot to me. The faculty was always there to talk if you needed to,” Eckler said. “I did everything from Greek life to homecoming king. It meant more than can be explained. I spent a year and a half in the band and I’ll always remember the feeling of running on the field for a performance at a football game.”

He is a 2009 graduate of Shawnee High School.

The purpose of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program is to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors and professionals to become kindergarten-12th grade math and science teachers.

The $900,000 grant was awarded to ECU to provide scholarships and additional educational opportunities to students who commit to teach secondary level mathematics for up to six years in a high-need school district in Oklahoma. A high-need school district consists of a high percentage of individuals from families below poverty line incomes, high percentage of secondary school teachers not teaching in the content area in which they were trained to teach, and/or high teacher turnover rate.

ECU was the first university in Oklahoma to ever receive the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Grant.

“Chris was a good Noyce Scholar,” said Dr. Robert Ferdinand, professor and chair of the ECU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. “In the next couple of years, we are trying to get in-service Noyce Scholars, who are currently teaching fulltime, to be speakers at the Noyce Colloquia on the ECU campus.”

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