Date of Birth: 12th Sep 1939
What institutions did she attend?
- Wolmer’s Preparatory School for Girls, Jamaica
- Wolmer’s High School for Girls, Jamaica
- The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica- BSc in Natural Sciences (Mathematics and Physics)
- Simon Fraser University, Alberta, Canada- MSc in Mathematics
- University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada- PhD in Pure Mathematics
- Mentor of the Millennium Award, Alberta Women’s Science Network, 2006
- Teaching Excellence Award from Mount Royal College, 1992
- Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award from Mount Royal College, 1986
As a student, she used every moment of her time carefully. She carried a textbook with her everywhere and read them on her way to school, at traffic lights, the grocery store and even at a hockey game!
Now retired, she enjoys gardening, woodworking, writing, storytelling, and photography, and creating games and puzzles for her grandchildren.
Caribbean Women in STI
Professor Jean Springer is a widely respected educator whose enduring love for mathematics and gift for teaching helped thousands of students to enjoy and do well in the subject. She is one of the first Caribbean women to have excelled as a mathematics educator at the university level. She taught at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), the University of Calgary, and Mount Royal College in Alberta, Canada.
At Mount Royal, she rose from the position of lecturer in mathematics to the position of Chair of the Department of Mathematics, Physics and Engineering. She also served as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology. Her devotion to education has kept her busy even in retirement. She continues to teach at the University of Calgary, and also serves as treasurer of the Mount Royal College Alumni Association, and as Chair of the Alberta Women’s Science Network.
Jean Springer (née Barrett) was born on 12th September, 1939 in Kingston, Jamaica. She was home-schooled from age two until six by her parents, who were mathematics and physics teachers. So from an early age, she was introduced to these subjects and enjoyed learning about them.
At university, she initially enrolled to study medicine. She, however, missed doing physics and “the intrigue and challenge of mathematics” so much that, with supportive parents, she switched her programme of studies. A brilliant student, she was named “Student of the Year” for her top performance. After graduating, she followed her Trinidadian husband to his home country where she embarked on her teaching career, starting at Naparima Boys’ College and then Point Fortin College. She later emigrated to Canada where her husband was pursuing an engineering degree. She juggled being a wife and mother to three children with work and studying to achieve her career goals.
As a teacher, Professor Springer is fascinated by the challenge of making mathematics interesting and enjoyable especially to young people between 11 and 19 years old. She loves “connecting with another mind and exchanging ideas.” She considers mathematics to be “a beautiful subject, stimulating and exciting” but she acknowledges the challenge for most teachers in getting students to overcome their dislike or fear of it. She stresses the importance of making the classroom a “safe place for questions”, i.e. of being patient and gentle, and listening carefully to questions in order to understand exactly where the student is having the problem. She instilled in her students her own love for mathematics by putting great energy into all her lectures, and through her determination to help them master the subject.
Her love of learning and life, her optimism about the future, and her perseverance make her an excellent role model for our young people. She lives by the motto, “Age quod agis” or “Do whatever you do well.” To students who want to pursue careers in science, she advises them to, “Follow your dream, aim high, fight shy and keep nigh.”
What is a mathematician?
Mathematicians examine the measurement, properties and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and
symbols. Some mathematicians strive to expand and clarify mathematical theories and laws. Others use the theories and laws of mathematics to solve specific problems in such fields as physical science, social science, business and computers.
Most mathematicians are employed as educators, although a few work for companies in the aerospace, communications and electrical industries.
Areas of Specialisation
- Pure or theoretical mathematics
- Applied mathematics
What do I need to study?
Primary School Teacher:
At minimum, 5 CSEC passes including English Language, Mathematics and one science subject with a teaching certificate or diploma.
Secondary School Teacher:
CAPE Mathematics and Additional Mathematics followed by a BSc in Mathematics or a mathematics-based discipline such as physics. Training in the teaching of mathematics is an asset.
An MSc or PhD in Mathematics is required to teach at this level.
What skills and traits do I need?
- Ability to reason, interpret and analyse
- Ability to communicate
- Love of teaching and learning
- Pythagoras of Samos
- Sir Isaac Newton
- Sofia Kovalevskaya
- Abd al-Hamid ibn Tur
- Srinivasa Ramanujan