Northeast State shines the spotlight on current faculty members making a difference in the lives of students. Associate Professor Maggie Flint teaches in the Mathematics division.
Faculty Focus, Maggie Flint
Professor & Mathematician. Walters State Community College graduate. East Tennessee State University, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
How did you join the faculty at Northeast State?
It actually started when I graduated from high school. I was offered a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee if I would agree to teach math. And my response at the time was, ‘Why in the world would I do that?!’ I got married and had a family. After my children were grown I rediscovered my love for math, and it fueled my desire to return to college. When I applied to teach President Wade Powers interviewed me and asked why I wanted to come to Northeast State. I told him everything that I had heard about Northeast State suggested it was about to become someplace very special. I wanted to be a part of something special, and I feel like I have been for more than 25 years now.
What was your community college experience as a student and now as a faculty member?
I am a community college graduate from Walters State Community College so I have a lot of empathy for our students. I remember that feeling of being part of a family in that everyone got to know me and cared about me. The community college experience has not changed in its delivery because it is very student focused. A student is a name, a person with children and interests. I’ve always sought to get to know our students as people and extend that same feeling of family here.
Why should students not fear math classes or math as a discipline?
I don’t think they fear math as a concept. Instead, I believe from my experience they fear it because somewhere – usually in elementary school – they were told they couldn’t do math or were made to feel inadequate about it. The message I give them is, ‘You can learn math.’ It is my job to help them overcome that fear because I love to see them succeed.
What math courses do you teach? How fulfilling is it for you and the student when he or she understands the subject matter?
This semester I’m teaching Finite Math and Business Calculus. I’ve taught every mathematics course offered at Northeast State. Students vary; some like math and excel at it. Others hate it and others say it isn’t their favorite thing but they can do it. I have a folder where I keep the thank you notes I get from former students for helping them pass math courses. Not all of them were “A” students in math, but they appreciated learning. Those students are dear to me.
How does math serve as an important tool for people in their everyday lives?
You have to buy groceries. You have to manage your finances. You have to make decisions based on the facts and data, not emotions. People will tell you statistics about things and you need to be able to discern what they are saying is true or made up. Life is a “word problem,” and we use math skills all the time that most of us don’t think about.