Student Spotlight

Teaching math to help students follow their dreams

Josh Cox followed in his father’s footsteps in choosing Oklahoma State University, and it was his mother’s example that led to his choice of major and future career.

Cox is from Saginaw, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth. His mother, Angela, is a primary-school intervention specialist there, focusing mainly on children with dyslexia. She has also taught fifth grade, specializing in mathematics and science.

Cox’s father, Keith, is an OSU graduate who passed his love of the university – beginning with Cowboy sports – on to his son. That led to Cox choosing OSU for architectural engineering. After his first semester, he switched to civil engineering. But over time he realized engineering wasn’t the right career choice for him.

“I have seen so many people my mom has helped over the years,” Cox said. “I have also had a lot of great teachers who made a difference in my life. I thought, ‘I like math and I’m pretty good at it. Maybe I want to teach math, and help young people grow and be prepared to follow their dreams.’”

He will graduate in May, earning a mathematics degree with an option in secondary teaching certification. Along with teaching algebra and geometry, he may also coach. Cox played basketball and football growing up, and fondly remembers one of his favorite coaches who was a calculus teacher.

“I thought that was cool,” Cox said. “I want to be a good teacher and a good coach. Young people make so many important decisions between the ages of 14 and 18, and I’d like to be there to help them when they are that age.”

Cox’s degree program is through OSUTeach, a collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education, Health and Aviation that allows science and math majors to earn teaching licenses and prepare to become secondary education teachers. By the time they graduate, OSUTeach students amass more than 600 hours in public-school classrooms.

“I really appreciate OSUTeach,” Cox said. “The program has prepared me to be a better teacher. They put you in an elementary school starting your first semester. We are all getting certified to teach students older than that, but it’s good to start with students a lot younger than you. Explaining concepts that can be pretty complicated to fourth-graders is good practice.”

Cox has also worked with Upward Bound, a U.S. Department of Education college-preparatory program for low-income or first-generation students. Cox was an intern the summer of 2017, and did so well he was hired as an instructor for the summer of 2018.

“It was really fun to get to know those students a little bit and hear their stories,” Cox said. “I reminded them that they don’t have to love math, but they can be successful at it.”

He plans to pursue a master’s in school administration so that he has the option of becoming a principal at some point. Whether he will end up in administration or stick to teaching is unclear, but Cox is certain about one thing. 

“I want to be there for kids,” he said. “I know I won’t be everyone’s best friend, but I want to help students learn how to learn and also how to be successful, both in a classroom and in life in general.”