High school teacher leads the way

Chelsea Diestelkamp was always willing to lend a helping hand, so in hindsight it’s easy to see why she became a teacher.

Chelsea Diestelkamp teaches mathematics at Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis. She shows the application of trigonometry to her students using a variety of hands-on activities to understand frequency and amplitude. Sam O'Keefe/Missouri S&T

Chelsea Diestelkamp teaches mathematics at Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis. She shows the application of trigonometry to her students using a variety of hands-on activities to understand frequency and amplitude. Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

As a high school student at Lindbergh in St. Louis, Chelsea Diestelkamp, Math’15, was the person her classmates turned to when they had problems with a subject.

“I was always helping friends with their homework — the one kids looked to for help,” she says.

When she came to Missouri S&T, however, Diestelkamp originally planned on becoming an engineer. Fortunately for the students at the all-female Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis, Diestelkamp ultimately decided against pursuing an engineering degree.

With her background in math and her experience helping classmates, Diestelkamp switched to math with a secondary education focus.

“It was always kind of in the back of my mind,” she says of teaching.

And she got plenty of practice while at Missouri S&T.

“During my time at S&T, I tutored privately over the summers,” Diestelkamp says, “and I was also a Peer Learning Assistant for the LEAD (Learning Enhancement Across Disciplines) program for 21/2 years, as well as a tutor in the Student Success Center.”

In the spring of 2015, Diestelkamp student-taught at Cor Jesu, where she started full-time in the fall last year.  With that foundation, Diestelkamp completed the pre-service Project Lead The Way (PLTW) training after she graduated.

Her experience with PLTW led her to encourage the prep school administration to sign up for the program, which they adopted, becoming the 500th PLTW program in Missouri.

Chelsea Diestelkamp teaches mathematics at Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis. She shows the application of trigonometry to her students using a variety of hands-on activities to understand frequency and amplitude. Sam O'Keefe/Missouri S&T

Cor Jesu is the 500th Project Lead The Way program in Missouri. The school will begin incorporating PLTW curriculum this fall.

“The fact that many colleges recognize PLTW classes and give credit for completing them made the program attractive to the administration here,” Diestelkamp says. “Most of all, I tried to push the fact that I believe that this is a program that can help Cor Jesu boost its efforts to inspire young women to choose education and career paths that incorporate STEM.”

In her first year, she taught one class of Honors Geometry and four classes of Honors Algebra II/Trigonometry.

“What I love most of all is the relationship I have developed with the students,” she says. “In the midst of all the tests, projects and homework, we still laugh every day because life is too short to take seriously.”

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