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Elizabeth Smith

2013 Fellow
Mount Pleasant High School
Providence, Rhode Island

Raised in a military family, Elizabeth moved frequently when she was growing up. Before settling in the Chicagoland area, she spent time in other areas in Illinois, Florida and Japan. Most notably, Elizabeth spent six years in Japan. While living there, her Japanese mother was troubled by the mathematics education she was receiving. To address this concern, Elizabeth’s mother began working with her on math on a daily basis. These efforts influenced her perception of this challenging subject and led to the development of enhanced problem solving skills.

Elizabeth is the first in her family to attend college. As an undergraduate at DePaul University, she enrolled in a math pedagogy course. It was here that she learned about the achievement gap between students in the United States and in other countries. This finding sparked an interest in why U.S. students continue to fall behind in math. As a result, she began to seek opportunities that would increase her knowledge of math education. Elizabeth volunteered at the Metro Achievement Center, a nonprofit organization that serves Chicago’s urban youth, in both their after school and summer programs. While teaching high school math, she made it her personal goal to convince her students that they were fully capable of succeeding in the subject.

After earning a Bachelor of Science in pure math from DePaul, she went on to pursue a Master of Science in the same subject. In the fall of 2013, Elizabeth will enroll in the Master of Science in education program at Northwestern University. Following graduation, she plans to secure a teaching position in a high-needs school in the Chicagoland area. As a KSTF fellow, she hopes to grow and develop into an effective math teacher.

Elizabeth enjoys singing and all types of music. In the future, she’d like to visit Japan to observe a math class and learn new teaching methods. Additionally, she’d love to learn to speak Japanese again.



Throughout this experience, I hope to gain the leadership skills necessary to assist fellow teachers in the schools where I work, and contribute to building a supportive environment in which teachers are reminded of the significance of their job

Elizabeth Smith
2013 Fellow