Teacher Feature: Lauren Pipes ensures fun during learning

By April Clark Honaker

Aware of the stereotype that math is less fun than other subjects in school, Lauren Pipes deliberately chose it. She knew there would be more jobs available in a subject fewer people were brave enough or interested enough to teach.

Pipes grew up in Sacramento, California, and attended East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary math education. After completing her student teaching and earning her degree in Marshall, Pipes took her first job mid-year at Spring High School in Houston. 

After finishing that year, Pipes moved around quite a bit because her husband worked in the oil field at the time. Along the way, she earned a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Texas in Tyler. She’s taught in Texas, Oklahoma, California and now in Louisiana, where she and her family intend to stay. 

Pipes is in her second year of teaching sixth, seventh and eighth grade math at A.E. Phillips Laboratory School and said she always wanted to be a teacher. When she was a kid, her older sisters would play school with her. They were typically the teachers, and she was the student, but those playtimes were where the seed to become a teacher was planted.

Pipes said her mom even has some drawings from when she was little where she drew herself as a teacher. In her years of teaching in different states, Pipes gained experience teaching both high school and middle school students, but middle school is her niche. 

“I fell in love with the middle school age,” she said. “They’re still young and moldable, but they’ve also figured out their personalities. They’re just interesting. It’s something new every day. They always keep me entertained and keep me on my toes.”

Although math can sometimes be harder to teach than other subjects, Pipes tackles the challenge by trying hard to make things relatable to her students. She wants them to understand the why behind what they’re learning.

“They’re at the age where they can appreciate it if you can explain why it will help them later,” she said. 

Pipes also takes opportunities to allow her students to learn and discover things in groups. She said they take so much more ownership of what they’re learning if they figure it out themselves, and even at this age, they are capable of taking responsibility for their learning in impressive ways. 

“When you train them to work in groups,” she said, “it’s amazing how productive they can be.”

Pipes uses group learning also to teach life skills, such as how to disagree respectfully. Getting this kind of experience now ensures that they are more comfortable working with others later in life, whether for academic projects at higher levels or in a job.