HCS Changemaker: Mrs. Nina Putt
Congratulations to Mrs. Nina Putt, a math teacher at Grissom High School, who has been selected as an HCS Changemaker!
Growing up, Mrs. Putt helped in nurseries, nannied, and even student-taught dance. Career aptitude tests she took in school even said she should be a teacher. She seemed destined for the classroom, but for a good while she was in a bit of denial about it and so didn’t declare a major until her sophomore year of college. While she did thoroughly enjoy her math classes and the problem solving she got to do there, becoming an actuary, engineer, or some other similarly-related math career still didn’t feel like the right fit.
Mrs. Putt took a chance and declared herself an education major. “The first time I did any sort of student teaching and actually got to work with students, I knew I was in the right spot and had made a good decision,” she says. As it turns out - those career aptitude tests had been right all along!
“Mrs. Putt really knows how to connect with children,” says Grissom High Principal Jeanne Greer, “she just always has an exciting personality [and] they really enjoy coming into her classroom.”
Mrs. Putt says that one thing that sets her classroom apart from what some might expect in a typical math classroom is that it’s almost never quiet. Her students are engaged in lots of collaboration, discussion, and interaction. Every day they are involved in some sort of challenging, problem-solving activity that requires them to work together, often with hands-on activities that incorporate both prior knowledge and critical thinking skills.
A wife and mother of two young girls, Mrs. Putt says she likes to spend a lot of time just hanging out with her family. She says her girls are into “all the activities” and with all the singing and dancing it often feels like they are living an installment of High School Musical at home. Mrs. Putt also enjoys reading, going to the park or pool, working with plants, and engaging in craft activities. She has always had a passion for dancing so also teaches a dance class on the side.
Mrs. Putt says that her primary focus isn’t necessarily on math, however. In the end, she wants her students to learn that she cares about them and that someone is rooting for them. She says that, especially during this time in high school, children are creating themselves as an identity separate from others, including family, and she wants them to know that they have someone who will care about and support them through that process.
The relationship-building style of collaboration she employs every day ensures that students leave her class confident in that knowledge.