Joe Wyatt
Published June 29, 2018

Karen White empathizes with those of her students at Amarillo College who initially struggle to grasp the intricacies of mathematics. After all, she too grappled with the subject as an undergrad.

KarenWhiteIn“I’m no math genius,” White, an associate professor of math, admits. “I had to repeat calculus when I was in college and that’s what gives me a heart for students who struggle.


“It’s also why I shout ‘Woo Hoo – Math is Fun!’ almost every time we get a right answer in class.”


Behind an outpouring of student nominations, many containing the exclamation with which she has seemingly become synonymous – Woo Hoo – Math is Fun! – White has been named the recipient of AC’s most-prestigious faculty accolade.


She was presented with the 2018 John F. Mead Faculty Excellence Award during AC’s Spring Commencement.


My love is helping students learn, and I so enjoy being part of their educational journeys,” White said. “I think of teaching as a sort of ministry – I get to help people be successful, try to help them with struggles, and I get to teach a little math along the way.


“The Mead Award is very humbling,” she said. “I would never have won a thing like this without being part of an amazing team of faculty in a Math Department where we constantly push one and other to change and improve.”


White is a lifelong Amarillo resident who received a degree in computer programming at Texas Tech University and joined the AC faculty in 1995. She served as a part-time instructor of math for 10 years and moved to full-time status at AC in 2005.


As an associate professor of math, White places great emphasis on a personal touch, striving to ensure that her students are comfortable in their surroundings and unafraid to err.


“I want my students to feel that my classroom is a comfortable environment,” she said. “I want them to know that it’s ok to get wrong answers, too, because together we can turn them into right answers – we can learn greatly from our mistakes – Woo Hoo!”


Here is what a few of White’s students had to say in nominating her for the Mead Award:


- She has a special way of teaching that makes me eager to learn.


- Every time I see math I can hear her voice, ‘Woo Hoo – Math is Fun!’ and I realize she has made an impact on my life.


- She builds relationships with students. She is friendly, approachable and takes the time to get to know you.


- Any chance she gets, she tells me how proud she is of me. She is fabulous and good-hearted.


- Ms. White makes math fun and enjoyable. I love it when she says ‘Woo Hoo – Math is Fun!’


The John F. Mead Faculty Excellence Award was created in 1988. It is named after AC’s second president, whose unique contributions included leading the College during the challenging 1930s and returning as a full-time faculty member in the 1960s.