Liz StraayerHigh School Math Teacher
I love teaching at NorthPointe where I can connect my faith to my subject matter of mathematics. Most people would probably believe that faith doesn’t play a role in the study of math, but I enjoy helping students make those connections. I have worked at NPC for my entire career. I feel blessed by the community that is like a family in the way they care for each other and support one another.
Faith & Life
Mrs. Straayer graduated from Calvin College and began teaching at NPC in 2004. She has since also earned a Masters degree in math education from GVSU. She loves teaching at NorthPointe and being able to integrate her faith into the content of mathematics. She is originally from Orlando and visits Florida (and Disney) every chance she gets!
Statement of Faith
The study of mathematics is the study of truth. Some mathematics is rather abstract whereas other areas are very applicable to the natural world around us. I believe that the study of both of these areas of mathematics is Biblical. In studying the abstract we are studying the unknown. We are using our intellect to fathom about the unseen. This is analogous to studying the nature of our Heavenly Father. Furthermore, humans are the only part of God’s creation that was made in His image. One very important aspect of being made in his image is the ability to think and reason in the abstract. Galileo said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” By studying mathematics we are utilizing that unique ability. The phrase “thinking God’s thoughts after him” (attributed to Johannes Kepler), comes to mind when studying the abstract.
In studying the applicable areas of mathematics, we are discovering ways to understand the created world. In Genesis 1:28, God commanded of Adam and Eve that they “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” I believe that learning how the created world works is one way of fulfilling this command. By understanding the nature of the created world, we can discover ways to help take care of the Earth. Galileo said, “The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.” Studying mathematics in a Christian school gives the special opportunity to look at both The Bible and science/mathematics as references.
In Mathew 22:37-40, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” In studying mathematics, I believe that we are showing God love, by being in awe of the wonders he has given us. The distinction between heart, soul, and mind can be very nebulous, but the inclusion of mind in the statement, to me, means that we are to love him with our intellect as well. This would include study of a full liberal arts curriculum so that we may begin to appreciate the differences in skills and interests that He put into the body of believers. Mathematics will not be everyone’s favorite or best subject, but it is one for which some members of the body will have a passion. By understanding what we can about all subjects, it not only shows God love and appreciation, but also our neighbors as we share in their passions.
Once we understand the interests of others, it may help us build relationships. If we can begin by showing an interest in someone’s passion (possibly mathematics), then it may allow us to bridge to a discussion of faith. This is a possible way that we could carry out the Great Commission given to us in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” For those who pursue a career in mathematics, the manner in which their study is done and their philosophy of mathematics as a gift of God can be a way to let their light shine.