MAT Alum Shines in China
Derivative. Slope. Function. There are many math teachers out there who can make these terms not only understandable, but fun as well. Dominique Lomax is one of those math teachers. Imagine the following: white boards at each desk, problem solving through discussion forums, visual displays explaining theories and concepts, students loving math. That is what you will see when you walk into Dominique’s AP Calculus class.
Dominique graduated from the MAT program in 2011. She is now in her second year of teaching AP Calculus in China. Let’s back up a bit. When Dominique was in 8th grade, she would get in trouble for passing notes to classmates. These weren’t the typical “check the box if you like me” type notes. No. These notes were explanations of the math lessons to other students. She knew right away that she had a knack for teaching math. As she moved through her school years, Dominique saw a pattern of being able to help others understand math. It was then that Dominique knew she was meant to be a teacher. Dominique graduated with a Math major from Willamette, and continued on to the MAT program. She credits a lot of her success as a teacher now with her experiences in the MAT program.
During her first year at Jiangsu Tianyi High School, Dominique’s average class size was 28 students. These are high-achieving students seeking admission at top colleges and universities in the US and Canada. Essentially all of the students will leave China and go to school in North America. Not only are these students completing the rigorous requirements of their high school, they need to successfully pass the TOEFL, SAT and/or ACT and AP exams. Like traditional Chinese schools, the focus is academics. There are high expectations placed on these students, and they rely on teachers like Dominique to help them be successful.
One of the things that Dominique enjoys most about teaching math is the opportunity to break some of the stereotypes that are associated with math. Math is too hard; math is confusing and difficult to understand; math isn’t fun. She likes to collaborate with other math teachers on new ways to teach math. Lucky for her this well-supported collaboration is encouraged at her school just like it was during her time in the MAT program. Willamette prepared Dominique to be a thoughtful student-centered teacher. She uses teacher research to strengthen her teaching skills.
Dominique’s experience in China has been amazing. The program consists of all American teachers in Chinese classes. The teachers follow a workshop model and provide constant feedback to one another. It’s the perfect environment for a new teacher. In addition to teaching, Dominique serves as the Glee Advisor. Having a non-academic experience with her students has helped her stay connected to the students in a different way. Her principal is from Texas and fosters the cultural competence and lifelong learning that all teachers need. In fact, Dominique is still connected to Willamette as she completes the ESOL endorsement online.
Dominique was confident and optimistic when she walked into the Oregon Professional Educator Fair in the spring of 2011. It was at this Willamette-supported career fair that she was introduced to the company that placed her with the school in China. She was unsure of where her teaching career would take her, but was ready for any opportunity that came her way. Dominique knows that she made the best decision when offered the position on Mother’s Day. It wasn’t exactly the perfect gift for her mom (seeing as she would be spending the next two years on the other side of the world), but it has been the perfect job for Dominique.
When Dominique sees students passing notes in her class, she immediately assumes that the notes contain words like derivative, slope and function. She smiles to herself knowing that she just might be teaching future math teachers.