Career Tech Ed Teacher, Greenville County School District

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Females are needed in STEM, they bring in different ideas and thought processes.

Abigail Schiferl

What do you do?

I teach students how to type, learn how to use GSuite, be creative in multimedia and how to code using java script, python and html.

Why did you choose this field?

My path started when a 7th grade math teacher believed in me. That drove me to become a math teacher, a role model for girls, who typically avoided math. I didn't start my college degree until I was 31. At that point, I knew I wanted to be a teacher but thought I was too old. With my degree of elementary education, I had to have a minor, which of course I picked math. I took Calculus at age 35, my professor was the same age and most people in my class were 19. I had overcome many battles since starting college at age 31 with four children at home, three were in elementary school and one toddler.

My duties never ended when I went home. I wanted to be a model for my children that poverty doesn't have to rule their life. Going to college to make a better life for yourself is an option, no matter your age. It took 5 years to complete my degree, I had started part time, had my 4th child eight months after I started, but I didn't give up.
Not only did I want to teach math but middle school math and many people told me I was crazy. I was determined to make a difference for students. After I taught math for 8 years, I worked on becoming a science teacher while I finished my master degree in technology and STEM. That opened an opportunity to teach science for 3 years before another door opened to teach technology. My only daughter, who graduated in 2019 from the same college I attended, is a special ed self-contained teacher who is making a difference in lives of so many students. My greatest passion is learning and helping students and adults.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I never thought I would obtain my master degree and now I am considering my doctorate. Also, I have a 3D printer and taught myself how to use it. No one else in my family has one, actually I don't know that many people who have one and know how to use it.

Why do you love working in STEM?

STEM is a combination of everything I love. I tell my students all the time that science is part of everything. Knowing how to teach science and math gives me a perspective of how important it is and how quickly it can be integrated into everyday life. I wake up yearning to learn more to teach my students (or anyone that will listen). I have a 3D printer, I look for files to print but only so I have the experience to share with someone else. I want to use different files with filament so I know what works and what doesn't work.

Best advice for next generation?

I am sitting at my table looking at Dash, a robot made by Wonder Workshop. It is a cute robot with a personality and I believe a female helped design the personality. Females are needed in STEM, they bring in different ideas and thought processes. I would suggest, go with your passion and never give up. If the door doesn't open, try a window. I started with math and my passion shifted to science and then completely STEM.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible!’” - Audrey Hepburn.

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