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Math for the Common Good

For the second time this year, one of our Resident Teachers will share their reflections with you on our Spark Blog. This month 3rd/4th Grade Resident Teacher Shaterra Overton has the mic. -Ed.


I’ve always been drawn to the innovation of the nonprofit sector. As I’ve explored the role of teaching as a springboard into education, I can’t help but think increasingly about how I can combine my love of teaching and schools with the excitement and passion I have for nonprofit organizations. This exploration has naturally produced more questions than anything else: What will that look like for me? What am I trying to accomplish? How do schools and nonprofits function as partners? My answers so far have been different variations of “I’m not totally sure.” What I do know is that I want students’ experiences in school to be exciting and inclusive, specifically in math.

As I considered graduate programs in the Seattle area, I wanted to find something that could help me move in the right direction and I wondered if there were a program that could combine a study of education and nonprofit organizations. Areas that I’ve been interested in are how nonprofits and foundations develop, how to propose programs for grant funding, and how to connect schools with organizations that share their missions. During my research I came across a variety of amazing teaching programs and degrees focused on education research, but even so, I was still looking for a closer fit. Once I decided to branch out from education-specific programs, I came across the Master of Nonprofit Leadership at Seattle University. I had always imagined myself enrolling in an education program, but I was excited to find a degree so focused on working within all areas of nonprofit organizations and incorporating my own, unique goals into the curriculum.

What I’m looking forward to most is opening myself up to the world of nonprofits that are working towards bringing dynamic educational experiences to students around the world. As much as I love schools, I know that not every one is able to provide the same engaging and supportive academic experience as UCDS. Nonprofits and grant funded programs can bridge the gaps where schools feel they need support or where students lack access to inclusive programs in maths and sciences. I am also excited about the emphasis on leadership that the program offers. An understanding of what leadership means and looks like is important for anyone working in the nonprofit sector and feels especially important to me as a young woman and an educator.