Carrie Naughton: Inver Hills Outstanding Educator of the Year

Mathematics instructor recognized by college and Minnesota State

Carrie Naughton, EdD, 51, mathematics faculty at Inver Hills Community College, has been honored as the Minnesota State Board of Trustees Outstanding Educator representing Inver Hills for 2023–2024. BOT Awards for Excellence acknowledge and provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement of the state’s public college and university teaching and service faculty.

Outstanding Educators from across the state will be recognized by the Board of Trustees at a luncheon in April 2024. During the event, the Board will further recognize a subset of Outstanding Educators by presenting them with the statewide Educator of the Year award.

Carrie Naughton, EdD

“I am proud to represent Inver Hills and all the great work that we do together,” Carrie said. “I am just one of many terrific faculty on campus who work hard to help our students succeed. I try hard to provide access and opportunities for my students to be successful. Thank you for this honor and recognition.”

Michael Berndt, Inver Hills and Dakota County Technical College president, was honored to select Carrie as the college’s Outstanding Educator for this year.

“Congratulations to Dr. Naughton,” President Berndt said. “I know she is committed to students, student learning, and the Inver Hills mission. Through the Outstanding Educator process, I have seen how thoughtfully she designs student learning experiences and makes mathematics less intimidating for her students.”

Carrie began teaching at Inver Hills in 2004. She earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Minnesota State University Mankato in 2020. Her doctoral dissertation is titled Effects of Synchronous Group Work on Learning and Community ork on Learning and Community in Online Mathematics at Community Colleges.

She also holds an M.S. in Mathematics and an M.Ed. in Mathematics Education from the University of Minnesota. She completed her B.A. in Mathematics and Computer Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, graduating cum laude in 1994.

Before arriving at Inver Hills, Carrie served as a secondary mathematics teacher at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minnesota, and earlier as a mathematics teacher at Wayzata High School in Wayzata, Minnesota. While attending the U of M, she worked as a teaching assistant in the Mathematics department and the university’s Minnesota Talented Youth in Math Program. She began serving as a community faculty member at Metropolitan State University in 2019.

Carrie’s previous honors at Inver Hills include three Golden Apple Outstanding Faculty Awards, three Awards for Excellence for innovations in her mathematics curriculum, an Outstanding Supporter of TRIO Student Award, and a D2L Brightspace MN Ignite Award.

Carrie teaches courses in Introductory and Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra I and II, Precalculus, and Calculus I and II at Inver Hills. She is a Quality Matters (QM) rubric/peer reviewer for hybrid and blended courses and has obtained annual recertifications since 2011. She also expeditiously adopted mathematics co-requisite pathways at the college and participated in the Minnesota State Math Pathways project as an Inver Hills team lead.

Through her work on a number of committees, including the Developmental Education Task Force, Academic Course Placement Committee (ACPC), Inver Hills Course Placement Committee (CPC), Multiple Measures Work Group, and Guided Self-Placement Work Group, she instituted new placement initiatives in mathematics at both the local and system level for students using high school transcripts, GPA, and guided self-placement.

“As a professor at a community college, I teach a diverse student body, which can make it hard to reach everyone where they are at,” Carrie said. “My students come with different levels of understanding and experience and typically face many challenges while juggling a lot of responsibilities outside of the classroom.”

Carrie added that her teaching philosophy addresses this diversity in an equitable way, emphasizing the importance of building relationships, using innovative pedagogy, incorporating technology, providing access, being an advocate, and continuously improving.

“I am a math teacher,” she said, “but you will note that most of my teaching philosophy is not specific to teaching mathematics, rather, it is about how best to reach my unique students.”

Carrie Naughton, EdD Teaching Philosophy

Carrie Naughton, EdD

Building Relationships

Making connections and building relationships with students is the key to culturally responsive teaching. Students who know that you care about them while you push them to do their best will be more successful because they feel comfortable making mistakes in front of an ally and learning through their misunderstanding.

Students need to feel my presence both inside and outside of the classroom. I send reminders and emails, require office hour check-ins, take surveys of students to see how they are feeling and find out what resources they need. I send Early Alerts and other automated messages to let my students know that I am thinking about them.

I make my best connections with students during group work, when I can come around to them individually, kneel on the floor to get at eye-level and talk through problems together (and joke around as well). I incorporate non-cognitive activities that require my students to reflect on their experiences in class and in life while also considering their behavior and attitudes, especially towards math.

These reflections give me a peek inside their life. I get to hear their voices. Being relational is critical because it lets me listen, learn, and motivate my students while also providing individualized help for each student.


More about Carrie…

Kenna, Carrie, Gerry, Emily, Teddy

Originally from Miami, Florida, Carrie graduated from Miami Killian High School, Class of 1990. Carrie’s husband, Gerry, also a college-level mathematics instructor, teaches at Century College. Carrie and Gerry have three children, Teddy, 23, Emily, 20, and Kenna, 17. The family has three cats, Comet, Kit Kat, and Jezzie.

“My son, Teddy, graduated college as a math and physics major,” Carrie said, “and is currently waiting for his security clearance to be approved before he can start his job at the Naval Nuclear Yard in New York. My daughter, Emily, is a junior in college studying neuroscience, biochemistry, and molecular biology. She hopes to be a research scientist. My youngest daughter, Kenna, is a senior in high school and is applying to colleges right now for a future in public health. All of my cats have always been Siamese cats—even the ones I had growing up.”

In her free time, Carrie enjoys reading , baking, and working out. “I like to read all genres, but my favorite would be a good romance or thriller,” she said. “I love taking walks outside and spending time every summer at our family’s cottage in Michigan.”

Carrie and her family reside in Burnsville, Minnesota.

Carrie family and life gallery

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Carrie Naughton Q & A

Carrie Naughton, EdD
What motivated you to choose mathematics as your career focus?

I grew up in a family of teachers with my dad being a high school math teacher for more than 30 years. This is where my inspiration originated, and I have always enjoyed teaching since I started tutoring friends in high school. I’ve always enjoyed the rules and logic found in math, along with the feeling of success when I get a problem correct.

What do you love most about teaching mathematics?

Math has been one of my favorite subjects because of its rules and logic, so teaching math was the perfect fit for me! I love the feeling of solving a problem and getting the right answer. I also really enjoy the process of planning what I am going to teach and coming up with new ways to explain and interact with mathematics.

I believe that all students can be successful in math, though it may take different means and timelines. I love being a student myself, so being an educator helps me continue learning about myself and my field.

What advice would you give college students who might be experiencing math anxiety?

Unfortunately, math anxiety is all too common. Many students have had a bad past experience in a math class that left them with a negative attitude towards or fear of math.

My advice is to accept that you may have math anxiety and learn some coping mechanisms for how to deal with it. Using strategies like breathing techniques, positive self-talk, productive struggle, repetition, and finding a good support system can help you overcome your fear or at least push through it. You don’t need to like math to be successful at it or even just pass it. But it does take practice to overcome negative attitudes and fear.

Three words that describe you as a college educator:

Why is a solid foundation in math a significant advantage on virtually any career path?

Let’s be honest, not everyone is going to use math every day. However, the mathematical side of your brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised just like any other. A strong math foundation will help you be a logical problem solver in all aspects of your life.

It can also help you be more organized, thoughtful, creative, and analytical. We all need these skills in our life, no matter if we are solving math problems, or solving life problems. Mathematics allows us to solve problems in different ways, from different perspectives, and it teaches us to be open to alternative solutions.

What is your favorite branch of mathematics and why?

I enjoy teaching mathematics at the foundational level—introductory algebra, college algebra, precalculus. The students that I serve taking these classes are often the ones who need the most help. I enjoy giving students a good foundation and helping them learn the beauty and power of mathematics.

It’s often at this level of math that I hear students say, “I always hated math, but now I like it.” Or, “I was never good at math, but now I am.”

That is a success!

What have your explorations of mathematics taught you about day-to-day life?

I feel like if everyone had a greater understanding of mathematics and had a stronger mathematical background, we would all be better at thinking creatively and analytically. My study of mathematics has made me more logical and this makes me question other’s logic as well. We need more rational thinking these days, and mathematics has taught me to back up my arguments with facts and logic.

Three words that describe you as a mathematician:

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

My father, who recently passed away, influenced my life the most. He was a math teacher for more than 30 years, and taught me to always question everything. He also believed strongly in family and education.

We were everything to him, and it showed in his love for us. He, and my mother, also taught us to be good people who did good in the world. We are here to help others and make a positive impact. He would be very proud of me for getting this Outstanding Educator Award.

If you could make one thing happen on Earth right now, what would it be?

I wish it was possible to make everyone in the world do good and be good. As my father taught me, we are here to help others and make a positive impact. Being intolerant and hateful against others goes against our purpose of creating a community together.

Carrie Naughton 10 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: I enjoy long walks and exercise classes at the gym
  2. Place you would most like to visit: The Italian coast
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Nothing too exciting, but I have driven across the country a few times and visited almost every state and toured many state and national parks
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Travel 2) Take care of my loved ones 3) Take classes for fun—cooking, baking, painting, etc.
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: Go as a River by Shelley Read
  6. Time period you would explore if you could time travel: Victorian England
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Be a good grandmother!
  8. Dream occupation: Own a bakery
  9. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Baking
  10. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Intolerance and hate
Learn more about the Mathematics Transfer Pathway A.A. at Inver Hills by contacting:

Admissions Team
College Center

More about Mathematics at Inver Hills…

Studying math at Inver Hills is not only smart, but also a fun and exciting way to enhance your analytical and problem-solving skills while broadening your career options.

From a practical standpoint, maybe Nikolai Lobachevsky, the Russian mathematician, said it best: “There is no branch of mathematics, however abstract, which may not some day be applied to phenomena of the real world.”

Mathematics Transfer Pathway Associate of Arts (A.A.) Credits: 60
Mathematics Program Planning Guide

Why Study Mathematics at Inver Hills?

Find your rhyme and reason in math.
As a mathematics student at Inver Hills, you will acquire a deeper appreciation for a field Albert Einstein called the “poetry of logical ideas.” As your skill set strengthens and you apply the power of math more and more in your daily life and career pursuits, you will find that you have developed the lifelong attitude of an inquisitive, resourceful mathematician.

Math is everywhere you go.
Complex, universal systems like healthcare, business, marketing, science, manufacturing, defense, pro and college sports, entertainment, and transportation are made for mathematical analysis. The skills you acquire studying math are a welcome addition to any workplace.

Amplify your intellect.
Delving into your math studies will outfit you with full range of intellectual tools. You’ll learn to calculate with authority, grasp fundamental and abstract concepts, and boost your learning power. In fact, studying math has been proven to be a springboard for increasing your overall intelligence.

Safety in numbers.
Studying math at Inver Hills means you will receive one-on-one instruction from student-centric math faculty who prioritize teaching above research, something you probably won’t encounter at a research university. The student support system provided by our Math department is second to none.

Tackle math in your own way.
You can take both pre-college and college-level courses at Inver Hills. Our Math department also offers courses that meet the review standards of Quality Matters™ as excellent examples of online instruction. An international, collaborative organization, Quality Matters (QM) developed quality assurance processes that improve and certify the design of online and blended courses.

Boost your odds for success.
Need a math requirement for your degree or program of study? Find your smartest route forward by considering our new math co-requisite options in Statistics and Algebra. Co-requisite courses not only shorten your journey so you can get through college-level math more quickly, but you’ll also receive extra support designed to power you through any math problem you encounter.

Crunch the right numbers.
Mathematics is the study of quantity, structure, space, and change, which are factors found in every branch of science and all the professions. Because the material world speaks most eloquently in numbers, math unfolds as immersive, essential, instrumental, and often enlightening in fields like political science, business, sociology, ecology, psychology, history, finance, jurisprudence, economics, medicine, and the list goes on.

Round up to an advanced degree.
Our Transfer Pathway A.A. gives you the credits you need to transfer with junior-year status to a mathematics baccalaureate program at one of seven Minnesota State universities. You don’t have to do the math to know your education at Inver Hills can be your lottery ticket to future academic and career success.

Mathematics is the foundation of everything.
Mastering math is one way to play moneyball with your own career. Occupations based on concrete math skills include research analyst ($83,000+ annual salary), statistician ($88,000+ annual salary), actuary ($102,000+ annual salary), and data scientist ($121,000+ annual salary). That list just scratches the surface of your promising career options as a math major.

Career Opportunities

Earning your Transfer Pathway A.A. in Mathematics at Inver Hills equips you with the go-to skills employers greatly value in their workforce. When you graduate with your math degree, you will have demonstrated that you are team-oriented, organized, innovative, adaptable, solid with numbers, logical, and experienced at solving problems.

The American Mathematical Society (AMS) reports: “Mathematical research and education are at the heart of some careers, while other careers utilize mathematics and its applications to build and enhance important work in the sciences, business, finance, manufacturing, communications, and engineering.”


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