Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Life of Giving Leads Math Student to Needy Classrooms

Caris Daily | 2013 B.S., Mathematics Education
Teach for America 

From that first stint as an algebra tutor as a high school sophomore, Caris Daily knew she wanted to spend her career mentoring people in the classroom.

“When I decided to become a teacher, I considered my love of math as the way I can best help people,” said Daily, a senior mathematics education major. “I want to work in junior high and high schools where students need a lot of guidance and someone to help them get excited about math and understand how important it can be.”

Daily found that type of support while a student at Community Baptist Christian High School in South Bend, Ind. She was encouraged to explore her interest in math and determine how to best impact those people who need it most.

Once she enrolled at IUPUI, she found a wealth of opportunities awaiting her in Indianapolis. She joined the Good News Youth Center, a local education outreach program, where she started as an intern and later became director of education programs. This experience solidified for her that she could do the most good as a teacher in needy classrooms in the inner city.

She has since worked as a lifeguard at a school for the blind and as a summer camp counselor, as a student teacher at three different urban schools in Indianapolis and also served as an IUPUI advocate in the Campus Ambassadors Program. When she graduates in May 2013, she plans to apply for a position at Teach for America, an organization dedicated to placing much-needed teachers in low-income school districts.

Caris Daily with fellow IUPUI studentsCaris Daily with fellow IUPUI classmates.

“I think a lot of these kids need good mentors, people who can help them overcome their fears and really look at a way to help them relate math to everyday life,” Daily said.

Daily said she considers her best asset in the classroom to be her ability to get students engaged in active learning. Her student teaching experiences while an IUPUI student were extremely helpful in forming how she plans to approach her own classroom once out of college, she said.

“I plan to be honest with students about math and tell them, ‘Some of this stuff you will never use again, but it’s important to remember that math is more than just memorizing formulas,’” she said.

“That’s one of the key lessons I’ve learned from my great instructors at IUPIU—that learning math really is about training your brain to think about problem solving in a logical way,” Daily added. “Math brings you logically to conclusions for problems, and that’s what really gives me energy in this subject. It’s what I love.”

Daily considers herself part of a new, progressive generation of math teachers entering the field. Learning the applications of math and its versatility are just as important as learning formulas and theories, she said. Students who first understand the uses of math outside of the classroom have a better chance at success while in the classroom, she said.

Daily also serves as the president of the IUPUI Math Club. She sees her leadership role with the club as important in recruiting future math teachers and helping students to “see the fun side of math.”

“Math Club is really about getting people to be passionate for their own subject,” she said.

Daily has two younger siblings enrolled at IUPUI. She encourages them to get involved in student clubs and groups that have a considerable impact in the Indianapolis community.