My name is Kevin Winfree, and I teach Mathematics here at WPCC. I am originally from Scotland Neck, which is a small town in the northeastern part of North Carolina. We are best known for the Sylvan Heights Bird Park and parking in the middle of the street. Yes, you read that correctly.
I began my post-secondary education at North Carolina State University while keeping secret my love for Duke, specifically Duke Basketball. There I studied Mathematics and Secondary Mathematics Education. I wanted not only to have a strong foundation in the subject matter but also to be able to be an effective teacher of the subject. I was sure that I wanted to pursue a career in education after taking my first education class at NC State. At the midpoint of the semester, this class gave me the opportunity to start spending one class period a week in a local high school. The class that I visited was a 9th grade Algebra I class. I learned quickly that the teacher had already formed opinions about her students, and she shared her thoughts with me. When I visited, she often tasked me with taking the poor performing students, who were also the ones who gave her discipline problems, out of the class to work with in a small group. I thoroughly enjoyed working with and talking to these students. I got to see things from their perspective and understand how they were feeling. They got the sense that the teacher had already given up on them, and thus they had just given up on the class. I tried to encourage them and help them understand that their education and their futures were a lot bigger than one teacher in one math class and that is important for them to always work hard and do their best. This experience taught me to always have an open mind when working with students. It is easy to generalize behaviors and think you know a certain “type” of student, but everyone is unique, and I strive to get to know who they are and what goals they have so that I can do what I can to help them achieve their goals and make their learning meaningful.
After graduating from NC State with Cum Laude honors, I worked as an adjunct instructor at Edgecombe Community College where I helped with Developmental Mathematics curriculum redesign. I co-taught a pilot course for this new model of developmental education and held workshops for other instructors where I helped explain the new instructional methods and structure of the courses.
My experiences at Edgecombe Community College led to a position at Piedmont Community College as a full-time Developmental Mathematics Instructor. There I worked closely with the Developmental Education Coordinator to create a new Developmental Mathematics Curriculum for the college. I also was responsible for data collection and analyzing the effect the newly redesigned curriculum was having on our students. For our efforts and our commitment to helping improve the learning and success of our students we were awarded the Faculty Excellence Award. After 3 years there, I made the decision to leave Piedmont Community College to pursue my Master’s Degree in Mathematics at Appalachian State University.
I loved being an educator at the community college level and wanted to be able to teach a wide variety of mathematics courses at that level. It was important for me to find a University that had a Mathematics graduate program that had faculty who loved to teach and would help me continue to grow not only as a mathematician but also as an educator. Graduate school was the most challenging two years of my life, but through that struggle I formed what I believe will be lifelong friendships with faculty and fellow graduate students. My efforts in graduate school were recognized by being nominated and accepted into the Cratis D. Williams Society which accepts 10 to 20 students each year out of all graduate students at Appalachian State. A student’s induction into this society is based on their academic performance with a graduate GPA of 4.0, their engagement in their discipline, and their potential for leadership.
After graduating from Appalachian, I accepted a position at Western Piedmont Community College whereas of writing this I have just completed my first year. It has been a pleasure working with my students and peers this past year, and I look forward to many more years to come.
I am grateful for each of my past experiences because they have helped shape the educator I am today. I believe all students can have success in the learning of mathematics, but that success can be defined differently for each student. I feel that so many students dislike mathematics because of prior negative experiences. Some that may have been out of their control, but that they internalized and see as a negative reflection of themselves. We also live in a society that is accepting of the “fact” that it is ok to be bad at math. I try very hard to confront that belief in my classes and make an effort to help students understand that learning is a process and is so much more than a grade at the end of a course by praising their accomplishments throughout the course and recognizing the effort that they are putting forth.
Outside of the college, I enjoy traveling, playing golf, and watching sports. My favorite sports are professional football and college basketball. I play golf every chance that I get, but unfortunately that is nowhere near as much as I would like. I have a goal to visit all 50 states, but so far, I have only visited 13 states; thus, I still have a way to go.
Find Your Way at WPCC!