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Faculty Spotlights

Unique course combines two unlikely subjects

Algebra + English = Success. Most people would not put algebra and English in the same sentence, let alone teach them in the same class, but that is exactly what veteran educators Dr. Karen Hattaway and Kate Dinwiddie are doing. The combined, collaborative course links college algebra and introductory composition, both gateway core courses for students who plan to earn an associate degree and transfer to a four-year university.

The course, developed by Hattaway and math professor Dinwiddie, explores the power of narrative in math and English. The goal is to help students think differently about the two subjects. Research indicates there are strong correlations between success in language arts and success in math, and that both subjects share common elements. Research also indicates that many students struggle in algebra because they struggle with reading and understanding the language that surrounds math. In essence, they have a difficult time understanding what is being asked of them. This course aims to change that.

The linked math-English course is taught in a learning community where students work in cohorts. They remain together for both subjects, which are taught in tandem by an English and math professor. Students who complete the course receive credit for the math portion as well as one of two communication components of basic college core requirements.

Hattaway says the goal is to foster and improve critical thinking so that students can succeed in upper-division courses and in the business community. Watch Hattaway explain more about the new learning community at: bit.ly/1NBrQYn.

A role model to students

Barbara Schumacher’s dedication to San Jacinto College is on display every day through her service activities, teaching style and collaboration. These contributions led to Professor Schumacher being named the 2015-2016 San Jacinto College Minnie Stevens Piper Award nominee and one of two faculty excellence award recipients.

Schumacher’s service to San Jacinto College includes creating a new, online, ready-to-teach biology course; volunteering her time to judge the Pasadena Independent School District science fair; leading her students in a significant landscaping project on the Central Campus each semester; and serving on numerous College committees. She is actively involved with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities at the College. Her “planting packets,” distributed at STEM events, provide everything needed (except for water) for a student to pot and care for a plant at home. Her goal is to develop hands-on activities that build enthusiasm around plants so that students become interested and engaged.

In the classroom, Schumacher sets up her students for success. She involves every student in every one of her classes, every semester. She collaborates with other departments to make sure students and employees are successful in everything they do. This collaboration is on display every day in the Steve Sills Memorial Garden, which she co-developed. Students plant the plants, and the produce is then used by the College’s culinary department. She also mentors new part- and full-time faculty and is often one of the first to step up to assist her colleagues.

Schumacher cares about San Jacinto College students. She cares about San Jacinto College faculty. And she cares about our environment. The Distinguished Faculty III professor is invested in the mission of San Jacinto College, and developing learning activities for students and staff. She is an example for others.