I know that I will not convince every student that math is wonderful and fun, but I do want to make sure every student knows that math is not impossible and that it is very useful, no matter what career they decide to pursue.”
Liz Ratliff graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BS in electrical engineering and began working for Intel. A year and a half into her job, Liz found herself rethinking her career choice and realized that she missed her job as a math tutor. “I always looked at teaching as more of a hobby than a career. Once I decided I was going to be a teacher, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it sooner.” She went on to earn her teaching certificate from the University of South Carolina and to complete the coursework necessary for teaching Gifted and Talented classes.
As a young student, Liz did not like math and thought the subject was boring. Her feelings changed when she took ninth grade geometry. Her geometry teacher, whose innovative teaching methods piqued Liz’s interest in mathematics and led her to pursue a mathematics-related career, continues to serve as her role model and inspiration. “He really got the students interested in the subject and because of that interest, students performed better.”
Liz has volunteered as reading tutor at Mill Creek Elementary School’s Early Alliance program and served as a First Lego League mentor and judge at Northside Middle School. She is the coach for her school’s math team. In 2009, Liz traveled to Alaska to participate in PolarTrec training in support of Project IceCube, the world’s largest telescope built to detect neutrino particles and the biggest research project ever attempted in Antarctica. The training provided Liz an opportunity to network with teachers and scientists involved in polar research and become part of the community of people bringing this research to high school math and science classrooms.