We are enthused to bring you an installment of the "Women in STEM Spotlight Series Sponsored by Leidos." This series highlights women involved in the FIRST community in DC, Maryland and Virginia who are an inspiration for our program's young women and girls.
Name: Arlene Lantz
Place of Employment: Garrett County Board of
Job Title: K-8 Math and Technology Teacher
What is your specific job in STEM? How would you describe this job to young women and girls?
My STEM job is teaching math to all students (K-8) in our small rural community school. I have the pleasure of teaching the students all nine years of their K-8 schooling. It is very challenging to prepare for and teach 9 levels of math daily. However, it is very rewarding to be able to work very closely with the students to help them excel in all possible ways. Teaching STEM is a job of commitment, but it is also a job of passion and personal rewards when you see the future impacts you have made on students' lives! We need caring and concerned STEM teachers so I encourage you to consider a teaching career in STEM!
Who inspired you to choose a career in a STEM field?
I had several middle school teachers who really challenged me to work harder, try new challenges, and to always do my best. I still stay in touch with several of my teachers! I started teaching math when I was a sophomore in high school. The boys sitting around me in Algebra class struggled to understand the Algebra teacher’s lesson. I would "reteach" it to the boys in a way they could get it. Numerous times the boys commented, "Why can't the teacher explain it like you do? I understand what you are saying." They appreciated the help, and it was rewarding to know that I could help my friends pass Algebra class! I have always enjoyed math, logical thinking, problem solving, and helping others. Great teachers can impact thousands of lives over their teaching careers!
What is the coolest thing about your job?
After 30 years of teaching, I still love teaching math to my students. I love the challenge to reteach the math concept to a struggling student then when they get it and you see that lightbulb light up, it is very rewarding. I work hard to build my students’ confidence in math and to show them math can be fun! My teaching career has given me wonderful co-workers and friends who share the same values. My career in STEM has been to not only teach students academic skills but also to inspire them and help them discover and develop life skills. A teaching career gives you flexibility to develop and pursue your interests. I have had the opportunity to teach 3-4 weeks of summer technology camps to students. Teaching has given me opportunities to coach FIRST FLL, Jr., FLL, and FTC teams the past 16 years. If you love to learn and to inspire others, teaching is an awesome career, because I learn something new everyday!
What advice (big or little) would you give to a young woman or girl who might be interested in pursuing a career in STEM?
I would encourage all young women who have a passion for STEM to believe in themselves and to follow their dreams! FIRST teams are a great opportunity to get involved with to develop STEM interests. Take advantage of local STEM teams and events to discover your talents and interest in STEM careers. I would also encourage young women to look for and apply for Women in STEM scholarships to help support her college expenses and look for colleges that have opportunities for women in STEM. Don’t dwell on which STEM field to pursue, start with an interest in college and keep your doors open and try a variety of classes to challenge you and explore your interests in college. Look for internships in a variety of companies to gain experience and to find your true passion. If you love your job, you will never have to work a day in your life!
What is the coolest thing that has happened while being involved (volunteering or mentoring) with FIRST?
The coolest thing I have seen working with youth in FIRST programs is seeing youth develop successful life skills that they cannot learn from a textbook. I have seen shy, quiet students grow into confident public speakers through outreach events and team judging sessions. I have seen youth set team goals and work hard with the team to accomplish those goals. I have seen students develop leadership skills within their teams and with stepping up to mentor younger FIRST teams. Seeing these students pay forward the opportunities they have been given keeps me returning to volunteer and inspire others. I have also had the opportunity to meet some very amazing and inspiring people through my FIRST travels and event volunteering.