Faculty Enhances Teachers’ Knowledge in Master’s Program

Born and raised in New Orleans, Christina Eubanks-Turner has found her calling a long way from home. Eubanks-Turner left her NOLA childhood and headed to Xavier University in Louisiana for her undergraduate education. After earning a degree in mathematics, Eubanks-Turner next headed north to Lincoln, Nebraska where she earned her master’s and Ph.D. in mathematics. In graduate school, Eubanks-Turner discovered that one of her passions was working with teachers, affecting the ways that they think about the mathematics they teach in the classroom. Her final move was to southern California, where she became an associate professor of mathematics at Loyola Marymount University.

With two children of her own, Eubanks-Turner appreciates more than ever the importance of education in helping people to achieve things they never thought they could. She feels that sometimes math can be used as a barrier to prevent girls and children of color, in particular, from reaching their full potential. Eubanks-Turner felt called to work that helped relay the message that anyone can do math.

“You don’t need to have a special brain or be a certain kind of person to take on math,” said Eubanks-Turner.  What you do need, her work suggests, is good teachers.

As of 2019, Eubanks-Turner has been the director of the master’s program in Teaching Mathematics at LMU. Most of the students in this ten-course program are already in-service teachers, teacher leaders, or teacher coaches. The program is different than other education degrees because the students take rigorous math courses alongside their education courses. Thus, the teachers aren’t just improving their pedagogy, they’re also deepening their content knowledge.

“I find it very rewarding,” said Eubanks-Turner. “Most teachers join the program because they love learning mathematics. Even teachers who have been in the classroom 20 or 30 years learn something they never knew or see an aspect of math in a new way.”

The MAT program isn’t just theoretical. It’s based on proven best practices and research, some of it done by Eubanks-Turner herself. She researches the specialized mathematical knowledge teachers need to know in order to teach math effectively. Specifically, she is looking at the mathematical knowledge teachers need to teach math at the secondary level.

Eubanks-Turner appreciates LMU for giving her the freedom to explore this and other areas of interest in her scholarly research endeavors. Her scholarly work related to teaching and learning has been featured in journals, such as, Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, Journal of Research in STEM Education, The Math Enthusiast, and she has secured over 2 million dollars in funding related to the training of teachers. She also loves the close knit community at LMU and its focus on both social justice and the education of the whole person, two ideas central to her work with teachers.

One of the most engaging parts of Eubanks-Turner’s job is participating in the regularly scheduled Math Nights for students within her program. Math Nights offer fun activities, speakers, career advice, and strategies and tools for use in the mathematics classroom. One time, they invited a hip-hop math group to perform. And there’s always great food!

When she’s not teaching teachers, Eubanks-Turner travels back to New Orleans visiting family or traveling on adventures with her husband and their two daughters, ages 10 and 18.