Kaitlyn Solymosi math education honors feature story - 1
Kaitlyn Solymosi '22

BGSU graduate student receives statewide recognition for excellence in teaching

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Kaitlyn Solymosi '22 honored as an emerging leader in mathematics education

As someone who joyfully has been immersed in the depths of mathematics throughout her undergrad and graduate studies, Kaitlyn Solymosi '22 does not center her motivation around solving a series of complex formulations or intricate equations.

She's simply anticipating the illumination of the light bulb.

When she sees a student who initially was lost in the numbers but then ultimately finds their way and understands the answer – and the route to that solution - Solymosi is the happiest person in the classroom.

“I am looking for that 'a-ha' moment,” said Solymosi, who obtained her bachelor's degree in integrated mathematics education in 2022. “I genuinely think the reason I chose math education is simple – it is so fulfilling to be the one who steps in and helps people go from that point of frustration to the relief of seeing how it all works.”

Solymosi has been recognized for her exceptional performance in the classroom and she recently received the Emerging Leader Award from the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics. That honor goes to a current mathematics pre-service teacher or a mathematics educator who has taught for five years or fewer.

Dr. Gabriel Matney, a professor in the College of Education and Human Development and a mentor to Solymosi, said that over the past five years he has watched her grow into a leader for mathematics education, both among her peers and in the communities where she has taught.

“Kati deeply understands the mathematics content in a way that allows her to find ways to help students understand math,” he said. “Kati is not satisfied with knowing how to do mathematics, she must know why mathematics makes sense. Due to this, she has a love of deep mathematical knowing and a constant fascination with mathematics and the learning of mathematics.”

As one of Ohio’s largest producers of teacher education graduates, BGSU has long been regarded for the caliber of its education graduates. BGSU teacher graduates also log more than 1,000 hours of field classroom experience before graduation, far exceeding the state's minimum requirement of 100 hours.

“If you ask administrators and teachers around the region and throughout the state of Ohio, they’ll tell you BGSU teachers are among the most highly prepared,” said Dr. Art Lewandowski, assistant teaching professor in the School of Inclusive Teacher Education and coordinator of the adolescence to young adult social studies education program.  

Solymosi, who expects to complete her master of education in curriculum and teaching degree in the spring, is thrilled about the prospect of transferring her love of mathematics to students once she graduates. Her student teaching experience has only intensified her passion for being a math educator, she said.

“I will be licensed to teach seventh through 12th grade, but I don't want to limit myself to any one of those grades. My ultimate goal is to teach everything,” she said. “I am trying to help my students realize that math is more than just a formula or plugging in numbers. Helping them figure that out is exciting.”

During her junior year in high school, Solymosi, whose grandmother, Dora Solymosi, was a French and German language professor at Baldwin-Wallace University, was uncertain whether teaching would be in her future, as well. Her choice of a college was also unresolved until a visit to BGSU.

“I was looking at other schools, but once I walked onto Bowling Green's campus, that was the only place that felt like home,” said Solymosi, who remains on campus full-time with a graduate assistantship role. “I looked at my mom and said, 'This is the place.' ”

Solymosi said she was intrigued by the prospect of doing research as an undergraduate student, an opportunity that BGSU presented.

“That was very enticing to me, plus there was this incredible math education program,” the native of the Cleveland area said.

“And Bowling Green is unique since what you learn is much more than math. Not only do you learn the math, but you learn how to explain it to a sixth-grader, and then they raise the bar to show you how to explain calculus, and so on. Bowling Green offered everything I expected, and more.”

Solymosi, who has been involved in the University's Math Camp, Math Emporium and was a Thompson Family Scholar, said she found herself immersed in the mathematics program from the start.

“I was going to math conferences as a freshman, and I joined the math-ed community way before I was in my own classroom student teaching,” she said. “My experience at BG was definitely more than I expected to get out of a math-ed degree.”

While she admitted that her youth led to the student teaching experience being a “little nerve-racking," Solymosi said she found it extremely beneficial.

“I was one of the youngest people in my cohort, so I was only two or three years removed from the students I was teaching and that was a little intimidating,” she said. “But I was fortunate to have a very cooperative mentor who let me get comfortable in the classroom first. She let me make mistakes, and gave me the freedom to innovate and do the things I was interested in doing.”

Matney said he believes that Solymosi is the embodiment of an emerging leader.

“One of the things she has been very passionate about is Math Camp. She has taken the leadership helm and helped other pre-service teachers develop their teaching prowess,” he said. “She is not afraid to give good feedback to ensure that they are thinking about how we make it better. She wants every teacher to help students learn better and enjoy mathematics.”

“Kati is what we hope the future of our society is full of – people who are thinking and solving the most complex problems,” Matney said.

Solymosi said her experiences as a BGSU undergrad allowed her to grow comfortable as an innovative thinker and an instructor, and she's looking forward to a career in education, and possibly the pursuit of a doctorate.

“It is hard to narrow down what I love most about BGSU because the list goes on and on. There is so much to praise,” she said.

“But I would say the people side of the experience was exceptional. I would not have done a lot of those things without the support of the professors I had here and the doors that were presented to me. That didn't mean those doors were open, but I took it as a challenge – if you have an idea, make it happen.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 12/14/2023 04:15PM