Ursuline News

Exceptional Years of Service: A Series

The Exceptional Years of Service wall outside of Haggerty Library features Ursuline faculty and staff members who have been employed by The Academy for over 20 years. We are pleased to introduce Ms. Claudia Mathison.

The day Claudia Mathison stepped into a classroom at Ursuline, it just clicked.

Before Ursuline, she was working as an engineer/architect and found herself bored, watching the clock all day at work. 

"I took classes to get certified in math education, and Ursuline took a chance by hiring me to teach Algebra II and Precalculus, having never taught before." she said. "I loved teaching and the community of UA. All of a sudden, I was wishing for the clock to slow down instead of speed up!"

Her passion for high school Math stems from her own experiences.

"I experienced varying levels of success through my math career in high school and college. I found that the ability to work through hard problems comes directly from making mistakes and struggle," she said. "When I was encouraged to ask crazy questions - and wasn’t expected to have answers, I felt empowered to tinker with math. It was fun when the pressure was off.  Working through a problem repeatedly until I finally figured it out gave me the biggest sense of accomplishment, and I want to share that with my students."

When she first arrived to Ursuline, she taught in a similar manner to how she was taught in school: stood at the front of the classroom, working problems with students taking notes along the way.

So much has changed since then, and in a good way.

"Over the years, UA supported me in adjusting my teaching style to meet the needs of the kids of today’s world," she said. "I have worked to create a more interactive and dynamic classroom, using technology to streamline instruction which creates time and space for individualized instruction, student practice, iteration, and learning from mistakes."

Looking back, her most memorable moment at Ursuline was when her oldest daughter arrived for her first day of school at UA. 

"I started teaching here before she was born, and UA has been a part of our family from the beginning," she said. "I have worked towards building a positive learning environment where my daughters could thrive one day - and when that day came, I was bursting with pride. I could hardly contain myself."

She was equally excited for her second daughter's first day of school in August 2023.  

Claudia is proud of her work building mathematical thinkers. She has a deep passion for empowering students to believe in themselves - and to embrace mistake making for learning in math class. 

"Before the pandemic, Katie Lee, another Math teacher, and I built a discovery-based Algebra 2 learning program that supported productive struggle in developing concepts, driving learning through self-assessment and reflection," she said. "It was a big departure from traditional teaching and was exciting and challenging at the same time. We presented our work at the 2020 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference, connecting with teachers all over the country who were excited to adopt some of our practices."

She hopes her students gain confidence and a genuine belief in their problem-solving abilities from her class, which includes the understanding that any problem worth solving will take time and struggle. 

"If my students can truly embrace the messiness of problem solving and develop strategies and stamina for “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do”, then my job is done," she said.

Ultimately, it is the UA community that has kept Claudia at Ursuline for 20+ years.

"This community is what inspired and supported me in pursuing my passion for using mathematics to build confident problem solvers and critical thinkers," she said. "The students inspire me every day - I am honored to have worked with such a solid and impressive group of young women throughout the years. Nothing thrills me more than when I hear of a former student using her mathematical mindset to challenge herself and grow."

Claudia celebrated 20 years at Ursuline in June 2023.