These past 5 years Porshia McCall the founder of It’s More Than Math , has seen many triumphs and tribulations but throughout it all she persevered. From earning her Bachelor’s in education, to a Master’s in mathematics curriculum and then giving birth to two children along the way, she has kept her eyes and heart focused and stood on her “own ten”.
I was born and raised in Capitol Heights, Maryland. I attended all low performing schools from Elementary School to High School. Finishing my middle school career, I applied for a Science & Technology High School on my own, which was an out of boundary school about 9 miles away from my home. My mother supported me advocating for myself, as I am the driver of my life. As a child, I was able to experiment with materials in the house while living with my father and later when my mother was granted custody of me. I use to take things apart and put them back together. I use to build card houses as mini towers. I mixed water with nail polish and watched the mixture explode once I screwed the top on.
I was always a focused child. My father is now a retired Sargent in the Air Force and mother works as a stay-at-home mom. Even though I did not grow up with my parents together, I was fortunate to be trained well in each household because of my parents line of work. I gained a step-father whom is as Nicet certified electrician. He practiced mental math with me each night growing up. I was always excited to share this time with him.
Sparking the Interest
While undergoing my first two years of High School, I was on a Science & Technology track, which enabled me to study under a rigorous curriculum at Charles Herbert Flowers High School. My 9th and 10th grade years I completed several science and technology classes. I was held to extremely high standard in all of my classes at Flowers. I loved the high expectations because they mirrored my parents guidance and expectations of me. This enabled me to transfer back to my neighborhood school, Suitland High School, as a teachers aid during one class of my junior year of high school. I transferred to my neighborhood school in order to undergo my Cosmetology license through Suitland's Technical Academy. Of course as a licensed cosmetologist, I would be able to use my hands to create.
After I graduated from High School, I decided to go to college to find myself. I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life outside of styling and growing hair. I started at PG Community College and took various classes. I signed up to become a Project Manager, which my oldest sister was. I quickly realized that I was not passionate about sitting at a desk or being confined to a particular space. I decided not to continue on as a Project Manager and switched my classes to satisfy an Elementary Education track. We were required to take a diagnostic test for English and Math before we were able to apply for classes. Unfortunately, I scored low on my diagnostic exam in math and had to take a developmental math class before I could begin to earn credits for college level math classes. This feedback taught me a lot about myself and also was easier to digest because of the way I was raised. My parents communicated with me and we often had difficult conversations. I always loved math but did not realize that I had mathematical gaps.
Fast forwarding to my last year undergoing my undergraduates degree, I completed my field work at an Elementary School in a 5th grade mathematics and science classroom. My mentor teacher was an older black woman who focused more on math than science. I learned a lot in this classroom. I learned that classroom management was the key to teaching, regardless of the subject. My mentor teacher loved math, which allowed me to focus only on math. As a reflective practitioner and new teacher, I developed a question after my first few days under her leadership. "What if the students do not understand?" I asked my mentor teacher this and she told me that it was not her responsibility yet the responsibility of their parents. I understood the point she was trying to make but I also felt that it was my job to become the light to my students.
By the end of my field work, I ended up teaching rising 2nd graders under the new Common Core Curriculum. My mentor teacher did not agree with the change and she could not teach me how to persevere through that challenge. I decided to own the work and develop my pedagogy of mathematical education. I knew that math was another language and that learning a new language after being conditioned to speak my native language would be difficult. I would be the light to my students who were too, learning a new language of mathematics. I also quickly learned that I should have earned my undergraduate degree in mathematics. I was pregnant with my husband and I oldest daughter while completing my field work. When I walked across the stage receiving my Bachelors of Art in Elementary Education, our oldest daughter was in the crowd watching me. I earned this with her and for her.
Keeping the Momentum Going
Fast forwarding to almost 3 years later, I earned my Masters of Education in Mathematical Curriculum & Instruction. When I hit submit on my last assignment for being considered for graduation, I thought back to the night before I gave birth to our second child. I was in the hospital, 5cm dilated, completing discussion questions on a mathematical topic. The doctors asked me was I in pain and I told them no. They were amazed at my strength, as I was in active labor. I knew that my life was no longer mine and that my success was also my children's success. My children motivate me and I would not allow the fact of having multiple children hold me back. I decided to live through each challenge with them and for them.
Today, almost 2 years later, my husband and I are now parents to 3 children, two girls and one boy. Our girls are of color and I am their image. I am a direct teacher to almost 80 students in Washington, DC, teaching Geometry and Algebra 2. I am a certified Project Lead the Way Engineering teacher. I am my students of color image of success despite adversities. I am being used to show them that their minds and brains are embedded for success in STEM and in life. I am still the young girl who attended low performing public schools in Prince Georges County Maryland. My husband was born, raised, and attended schools in Washington, DC. We both are creators and love math and engineering. I stay motivated because I know who we needed when we were younger. I know that we were once confused about our paths and sometimes walked our paths alone, lost and scared. I know that we both struggled trying to figure out who really supported us and understood our minds. I hope to continue to be an image to other women of color, young and old, who do not come from families with lots of money. But, we too can create and sustain new ideas to encourage a better today and tomorrow.
Follow It’s More Than Math on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @itsmorethanmath
FOUNDER AND EDITOR
Hi My name is Kara and Welcome to Ladies Love STEM! I'm full-time graduate student and #STEMsis. When I'm not in the lab, I'm usually enjoying beautiful HotLanta. Here at Our goal is to provide women of color a space to motivate, encourage, and celebrate one another in STEM.