When Jackie Kraus started high school, she didn’t really care for math and science.
But her math teacher changed how she felt.
“During my four years, I had Mr. Stone for three years of math and a few great science teachers,” she said. “They really sparked my interest in math and science, and their enthusiasm for these subjects was contagious. I couldn’t decide which science to study in college, and I guess that’s how I ended up studying mathematics!”
Kraus, who always knew she wanted to teach, earned a bachelor’s degree from Augusta College and a master’s degree from Iowa State University. She has spent her career teaching at community colleges, first at Black Hawk College and then at Harper College before coming to College of DuPage.
“Students at the community college level continue to impress me with what they can achieve—going to school while working multiple jobs and taking care of families, coming back to school to make a better life for their families, or just doing the smart thing and saving money those first two years of college. It’s because of them that I wanted a career working at community colleges.”
Kraus wants her students to not be scared of mathematics and develop their abilities to think mathematically.
“I like sharing with others how I make sense of mathematics, and I want to show my students that mathematics isn’t a stuffy, dead subject but one that they can make sense of and use in their every day lives,” she said. “I dislike the language ‘I’m not good at math,’ and I always try to correct my students to ‘I’m not good at this yet, but I will get better.’”
She also wants students to search for inspiration, even during times of a worldwide pandemic and political upheaval.
“It sometimes can feel downright impossible to find inspiration. I have to find it in the small everyday kindnesses and in the caring people who are out there,” she said. “I have to find inspiration in those people who have found ways to innovate during this time to ensure that their workplaces and communities can thrive even in the midst of chaos.
“When that fails, enjoying the never-ending happiness of my dog helps. I’m amazed how her life is completely unaffected by current worldwide situations and sometimes I think we should try to take a page out of her book.”