Kelly Cooke

Karen Spence is new to the math department at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Creating an environment for every student

Entering room 907, students are immediately greeted by a welcoming woman whose eyes smile from her cheeks that are hidden underneath her mask. The room, feeling tranquil and cozy, envelops students like a big hug, working to cease the nerves of the class. No matter how anxious or doubtful a student is about their ability to do well in her class, Karen Spence will provide a learning environment that pertains to each student’s needs to ensure they can be their greatest self.

Spence is a new regular geometry teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who offers an interesting perspective on the way students should be taught.

“I believe my perspective might help students who are struggling [in class],” Spence said. “I try to represent math in different ways depending on the learning of various students.”

Spence believes it is important to alter the way she presents a lesson to her students depending on how each of them absorb material best-either visually, socially, or verbally. She says that so far all her students have been respectful and hardworking. Some have trouble with staying engaged, however it is the first few weeks and Spence is adapting her learning styles to reach all of the kids.

Spence received a Masters of Arts in Teaching and Learning from Nova Southeastern University. Always having a love for math in school, she decided to begin teaching math to middle school students. Spence worked at a few middle schools for 10 years, before transitioning to high school. At the time her children were younger and she needed to take care of them more and accommodate their daycare hours, staying at the middle school level did not fit this. Spence also felt high school students would be a better student demographic for her.

“I started teaching high school instead, because of the students’ maturity levels,” Spence said.

She taught at Dillard High for a few years, teaching algebra and analysis of functions. This was until she heard about how wonderful MSD was, and realizing it was a more convenient location to her home, she decided to make the switch.

Spence was originally born in Jamaica, living there until just after high school when she moved to the United States with her family. She is now married with two kids, one in college and the other an upperclassmen high school student.

Outside of school, she loves to travel with her family since she has a passion for trying new things, including places. Before COVID-19, Spence and her family went to places like Hawaii, Canada, Myrtle Beach, and Jamaica, to visit her family and friends still living in her home country.

Spence’s faith is something else she is very passionate about. Identifying as Seventh-day Adventist, a Protestant Christian denomination, she feels that her faith grounds her and her busy life.

Spence hopes she can impact her students in a way that makes them learn in a way that fits best for them.

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