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Math instructor Counts the Options Created Not the Correct Answers

When Mary Pat Rohde began her own college career, she wasn’t sure what to major in.

Her counselor reminded her that she also needed to add a math class, a subject that Rohde excelled in during high school.

When Rohde selected calculus as her freshman level math choice, the counselor took notice. You know, you can major in math, she said.

So Rohde majored in math. And now as an instructor at Bryant & Stratton College’s Wauwatosa Campus in Wisconsin, she helps her own students survive what many fear will be the toughest course on the roster.

“Usually people don’t like math because they’ve had a bad experience, maybe because they transferred schools or had a teacher who made them feel they couldn’t do it,” she said. “Everybody is not great at math but that doesn’t mean you have to hate it. One of my goals it to make it so you don’t hate coming to math class.”

Rohde says she jokes with her students and reminds them that everyone has a subject they struggle with.

“I hated history, but I could sit in front of a t.v. and do math without a whole lot of thought,” she said.

And she reminds them, she prefers her students, over the subject matter.

“I don’t love math, I love people. I do well at math. I don’t want them thinking it’s subject over the people,” she said.

While she was working toward her math degree, Rohde said she wasn’t real sure how she would use it in the job field, so she picked up education classes as well and began teaching math to high schoolers. Rohde said she prefers teaching college students who are more disciplined in practices like homework and studying.

“In college they take it more seriously. They are paying to be here and it’s optional to be in class. They don’t have to enroll,” Rohde said.

Rohde has been helping students at Bryant & Stratton untangle math problems for 18 years. She said what she enjoys most is knowing that she is helping students develop options. 

“I think some high school teachers in the school system have tossed some of these kids aside and thought, they’ll never go to college. But here they are and part of what we do is prepare them for a career, an education, a life and all sorts of things,” she said. “This is an opportunity for them to learn and plan and give them options.”


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