Christa Ferdig spent six years as a real estate agent. She hated every moment of it.

The Long Neck Elementary School teacher said she was in real estate during a time when she was struggling to find work as a teacher. Six years ago she landed the job as a math teacher and hasn’t looked back.

She is one of two teachers chosen for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Why did you decide to become an educator?

I always wanted to be teacher. Ever since I was in ninth grade I knew what I was going to do. I used to notice students and friends who were struggling and I knew I could help students where math didn’t come easy.

Why do you have a passion for math?

I am a self-proclaimed math geek. I love numbers and I love looking for patterns in the numbers and learning new things every year. Sometimes my students will come up with a strategy that I never thought of and I get excited each and every time.

What challenges come with teaching math today?

It’s making math attainable for all the students, not just the ones who are naturally inclined and can memorize.

Students come in with the attitude ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t’ do math, instead of having a growth mindset where they believe ‘I can’t do it today’ doesn’t mean ‘I won’t be able to know it’ tomorrow.

How do you make it fun?

Technology is the way. That’s the world we live in. [Students] are the technology generation. They’ve never known life without technology. To sit in a classroom without technology is hard for them.

What keeps you moving forward?

Every teacher needs to know going in that one year to the next will never be the same. There will always be new initiatives, there will always be new laws and there will always be curriculums [changing].

But if you have that passion for teaching and you love to see students learn all of the other stuff is secondary.