Math prof enjoys helping students learn

September 2, 2014 Feature Print Print

Helping students overcome math obstacles is what math Professor Janet Mitchell said is the best part of her job.

“They’re working really hard to overcome some topics that they’ve struggled with,” she said.

“It’s nice to see them strive for improving. They feel more confident when they’re having success and it’s great to see that.”

Mitchell won the Faculty Employee of the Year for 2014 at the Annual Convocation and Employee Recognition Ceremony Aug. 12.

She said she was pleased to win the award. Mitchell said many others were deserving, which made it even more special to win.

“It’s a really big honor, because we have so many people on this campus that are highly qualified and do such a great job with their students. So I feel like I’m just one of many people that might be deserving of this award,” she said.

Mitchell said one of the things President Paul Sechrist mentioned at the ceremony was how she wrote a math worktext for the College Prep Math Series.

She said the worktext is a great curriculum for students in the College Prep I as it provides a fresh way to see concepts that may be hard for some students.

“I developed the curriculum for the College Prep Math I class,” Mitchell said. “I had experience with non-traditional teaching of various math topics.

“We do a real hands-on approach to understanding math concepts.

“We do kind of nontraditional just to try to get a fresh approach to looking at concepts that may have caused problems in the past or maybe were forgotten because it’s been a few years since you’ve done some of that stuff,” Mitchell said.

Because they do not go through a book publisher, the worktext is far more affordable for students. However, this means that Mitchell and the committee does all of the writing and editing for the text.

The worktext is currently on its sixth edition. Mitchell said rewriting the text is a challenge each time, but the time and effort are worth it, because students continue to succeed.

“It’s a major undertaking each time I rewrite it, but it’s really helpful,” she said.

“The students really like it. We’ve had a lot of success with the course.

“We have students that understand certain math concepts like fractions, or decimals, or percents that maybe they never really understood before, but getting the hands-on different approach about it, it is a helpful tool for them.”

Starting her ninth year at OCCC, Mitchell said she has enjoyed every minute of her time here.

She said she enjoys working with the faculty and staff because everyone collaborates and works together. The working environment is positive, she said.

Mitchell said she also enjoys spending time with the students and helping them learn.

“I like working with the students that we have,” she said.

“We get a lot of great students. I teach a lot of the College Prep I classes because I have done that book and we get a lot of wonderful students just in our whole college prep math sequence.” Mitchell said her favorite part of teaching is making a difference in students’ lives.

She said she loves to work with students who have always struggled in math and get them to the point where they could achieve what they thought was impossible.

“I kind of specialize in the developmental area,” she said.

“That’s … a specialty that I like working with, so I … have focused on that.”

For more information about the Faculty Employee of the Year, visit

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