Teaching, Life, and Belief
Eula Monroe Presents Power of Teaching Lecture
Twice each semester students have a chance to hear from McKay School faculty as they discuss the teaching profession and what it takes to succeed as educators. These lectures, hosted by the Department of Teacher Education, are for students pursuing teaching as well as for students who are undecided. Brad Wilcox, one of the event’s organizers, says, “The Power of Teaching lectures are supposed to validate those already studying teaching, and to convince everyone else that they should teach.”
This semester’s final speaker was Eula Monroe, a mathematics education professor in the Department of Teacher Education. Monroe has spent more than 50 years in teaching, as an elementary school teacher and as a professor. Monroe gave a heartwarming presentation about the value of life’s lessons, especially the importance of believing in yourself and your students. “Life is not about us,” she said. “It’s about those we serve . . . This vocation is so much more about who you teach.”
Monroe is a devout Christian as well a celebrated and renowned researcher in mathematics education. She spoke with fondness of her late husband of 50 plus years, as well as her daughter and son-in-law who were present to hear her speak.
Monroe described her upbringing in rural Kentucky, where she grew up during some of the most volatile periods of the nation’s history. Recalling experiences such as segregation in schools, she said, “Through the grace of God I moved beyond the attitudes and perceptions I’d been locked into by my environment.” As an elementary teacher later in her life, Monroe reached out in love and concern to all of her students regardless of race.
As sharecroppers who struggled with poverty, Monroe’s parents exemplified the value of hard work. “How to work hard is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life,” she said. “It’s brought me a lot of satisfaction in life, and I learned it from my mother.” Monroe remembers her mother working to exhaustion to make sure her family always had clean clothes and something to eat. She doesn’t remember ever being hungry.
As an educator, Monroe has found that believing in yourself and recognizing the potential that God gives the students you teach are vital abilities of effective educators. She recalled her former high school English teacher. “She saw potential in me, and she cared deeply for me,” Monroe said. “She would read Shakespeare with such fervor that I also fell in love with it.” Monroe’s teacher cared so much for her that she continued correspondence with her while Monroe was at college, encouraging and motivating her. She even loaned Monroe money so she could afford her first semester. “She believed in me.”
The kind of care and concern her high school teacher showed for her is emulated by educators like Eula Monroe. As they show this personal, individual concern, teachers acknowledge the potential their students have to succeed and become remarkable people in whatever profession or calling they choose.
You can view Monroe’s presentation in its entirety at http://education.byu.edu/media/watch/678.
12 March 2012