TPTE Graduate Student Profile, Ashley Walther PhD Candidate in Math Education

Ashley WaltherAshley Walther earned both her BA in mathematics and MA in curriculum and instruction from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Her math teaching experience includes positions at Mesa Ridge High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Fulton High School in Knox County. Since 2014, she has been a numeracy coach at Vine Middle School, also in Knox County.

What led you to pursue your PhD in math education at UT?

I am originally from Lenoir City, Tennessee. In 2005, I got married to Michael Walther. He was in the army and we were stationed in Colorado Springs. That’s where I completed my BA, MA, and got my first mathematics teaching position. After he exited the service in 2009, we moved back to Tennessee. At that point, I taught high school in Knox County. During my time in Knox County Schools, I led professional development for my staff and district. I fell in love with teaching teachers. It was then that I realized I needed to further my education in order to continue doing what I love. I decided to return to school to pursue my PhD. I met Lynn Hodge through UT’s intern program—I had two interns during my time at Fulton. She was instrumental in providing information and encouragement to go back to school. Since I’ve been in the program, I’ve had many fantastic opportunities to continue working with teachers through professional development and grant opportunities.

What is the focus of your dissertation research?

My dissertation is focused on the planning practices of rural elementary school mathematics teachers. Most of my experience at UT has been with rural teachers, and I really love learning with them. My target completion date is 2017.

What experiences as a doctoral student have shaped your
foundation as a math educator?

During an independent study course with Lynn Hodge very early in my program, I read an article about the ways in which teachers can leverage community issues to provide meaning in mathematics. Essentially, mathematics could be the tool students use to learn about and change the world in which they live. I was fascinated! That one article and subsequent discussions with Dr. Hodge led me to my first research experience. She and I were awarded a grant to implement and research social justice mathematics at an urban middle school. Since then, our work has led to presentations at the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education conference and an in-press publication in Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. Also, I am thankful for all my experiences at UT such as intern supervision and teaching methods courses. I can honestly say there isn’t a single thing that I wanted to do during my time here that I haven’t had the opportunity to do.

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