October 23, 2020 at 1:15pm
Dane Lisser

MU student named one of four to receive Pre-Service Teacher Scholarship in Illinois

Millikin University is pleased to announce that student Morgan Wendt, a senior double majoring in secondary mathematics and middle grades mathematics education, is one of four students in Illinois to receive the 2020 Pre-Service Teacher Scholarship from the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM). The scholarship was presented to Wendt during a virtual ICTM reception and awards ceremony on Oct. 16.

To be eligible for the scholarship students must be enrolled as a junior or senior in an accredited university or college in Illinois during spring 2020 with a graduation during May 2020 or later; be working on his/her first bachelor's degree with an intent to teach in Illinois upon graduation; be a mathematics education major, a mathematics major with an education minor or an education major with an official mathematics emphasis; and have a total GPA of at least 3.00 out of 4.00.

A native of Oreana, Ill., Morgan Wendt is a member of the Millikin Honors Program and the Leadership Scholars Program, and serves as the treasurer of Pi Mu Epsilon. From her freshman to junior year of college, she worked as a supervisor for Decatur Christian School's before-school program where she gained valuable experiences interacting with students. 

Morgan Wendt Millikin University

Morgan Wendt

Over the past four years, Wendt has also served as a math tutor for students, ranging from fifth grade to high school seniors. She chose the rewarding profession of teaching mathematics because she "desires to have a positive impact on students and their educational experiences."

"I chose to teach math because I love the subject and I want to help students learn a subject that many are intimidated by," Wendt said. "I am a math tutor, and I really enjoy working with students and seeing them progress in their understanding of the content. I enjoy explaining the math topics and processes as well as the challenge of teaching the topics in different ways to reach each student."

One of the most valuable experiences Wendt took from her role at Decatur Christian School's before-school program was learning how to build teacher-student relationships and making sure each student felt welcomed and valued. 

"I worked with students from the ages of three to 12 every morning, and I really enjoyed getting to know every one of them," Wendt said. "I learned to be intentional about learning their names, their hobbies and their personalities as well as following up with students about specific things they previously shared with me."

Another valuable experience she gained from the position was learning to manage students who struggle with difficult behaviors. "Each and every student is different, and I learned specific ways that worked to address some student behaviors and other ways that were not so successful," Wendt said. "I gained experience of how to be proactive in managing students' behaviors, which I learned helps prevent many potential behavioral issues."

Wendt is currently working towards licensure for both middle school and high school math, and is interested in teaching at the high school level after graduating from Millikin in May 2020. "I am ready to start doing what I have been preparing and learning about for the past four years," she said.

Morgan Wendt Millikin University

Dr. Paula Stickles, professor of mathematics at Millikin, is among the faculty who has taught Wendt. Stickles noted that Wendt is able to visualize the larger picture and "sees well beyond her years," also noting that she has insightful thoughts and makes great observations about pedagogy and teacher-student interactions.

"Morgan [Wendt] is an exceptional student who works hard on understanding the material. She often asks clarifying questions about the conceptual underpinnings of topics," said Stickles. "Having Morgan as a student has made me a better teacher because of the questions she asks. My colleagues and I are always impressed by the types of conceptual questions Morgan asks to achieve a better understanding. She is always collaborating with classmates on upcoming assignments or offering assistance to underclassmen. She is a leader in the department and students look to her for guidance and support."

The faculty in the Millikin Mathematics Department have played a vital part in supporting, encouraging and challenging Wendt in her studies of mathematics.

"The Millikin Mathematics Department has also helped me in preparing to become a teacher. The professors have served as great examples of how to teach in the classroom and work with students both in the classroom and during office hours," Wendt said. "I have learned very useful and valuable teaching methods and strategies that I will use in my future math classroom."

For more information about the 2020 Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual Scholarships in Mathematics Education, visit ictm.org/ictm-scholarships.