“Mathematics is the key to opportunity and success.” Those are the words Suzanne Mitchell heard from eighth grade through college from her father. Even Christine Poindexter, Suzanne’s mathematics teacher at Central High School in Little Rock, encouraged her in both mathematics and computer science. As her husband moved around while in the Air Force, Suzanne never lacked for a job due to her Bachelors’ of Science degree (BS) in Mathematics with a minor in Physics from Arkansas State University. After settling in Jacksonville, she decided to teach mathematics and earned a Master of Education degree (MEd.) with an emphasis in Secondary Mathematics from the University of Arkansas. During her 20-year public school teaching career, Dr. Mitchell taught a variety of mathematics courses, grades 7-12, and served as the secondary mathematics curriculum coordinator in Pulaski County Special School District in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In 1987 a family job change led her to become the mathematics and science coordinator for the magnet school program in the Kansas City, Missouri School District serving on the administrative team with responsibility for the planning, organizing, and implementing the mathematics and science, computer science, environmental science, and the health sciences magnet themes. While in Kansas City, Suzanne earned an Education Specialist degree in Education Administration (Ed.S.).
In 1991, another job opportunity brought her back to Little Rock where she joined the Arkansas Department of Higher Education as grant writer and program manager of several federal grants including a ten million dollar National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in 1993 to improve mathematics and science education in Arkansas which helped to start the first 5 STEM Centers located on higher education campuses. In 1999 a three million dollar Teacher Quality Enhancement grant from the U. S. Department of Education expanded the number of STEM Centers to 12 and provided the means to improve teacher licensure and quality in Arkansas. In 2001 Suzanne wrote another grant for 1.5 million dollars from the NSF EPSCoR program to include science specialists at each of the 12 STEM Centers.
In 1998, Suzanne earned a Ph.D. in Education and Urban Policy Studies in Education from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. She stays involved in state and national organizations that influence education policy changes, especially in mathematics. Suzanne served 10 years on the Board of the Triangle Coalition for STEM Education in Washington DC, including one year as President in 2004. She served as President of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (2011-2013) and served on the Board of Directors for 7 years representing the Southern 2 region. She served on numerous committees with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and is currently a Trustee for the Mathematics Education Trust Board in Washington DC. She currently serves on the Board of the Arkansas Council of Teachers of Mathematics representing Arkansas universities.
In 2010, after working with numerous business and industry entrepreneurs and representatives, Dr. Mitchell became the Executive Director of the Arkansas STEM Coalition, a statewide, non-profit partnership of business, education, government and community leaders advocating for excellence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in order to develop a strong STEM worker pipeline and expand the economy of Arkansas. She represented the Arkansas STEM Coalition on the Governor’s Computer Science Task Force from 2015-2017.
Since 1991 to the present, Dr. Mitchell taught mathematics at Arkansas State University and manages the Improving Teacher Quality federal grant at the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Her advice to her 2 daughters was always “Mathematics is the key to opportunity and success.” They both heeded her advice and one is a pharmacist in Little Rock and one is a chemical engineer and owns an oil and gas company in Oklahoma. Suzanne met her husband, Mike Mitchell, in a Calculus 1 class at Arkansas State University 49 years ago and they both still like mathematics.