Math professor, alumna dedicates textbook to Ozarks professors

Release Date: 9/10/2012

When Callie J. (Harmon) Daniels, a math professor at St. Charles Community College in Missouri, had an opportunity to dedicate the latest college math book she co-authored, she had only to think back on her undergraduate days at University of the Ozarks for inspiration.

Callie J. (Harmon) Daniels

Callie J. (Harmon) Daniels '89, a math professor at St. Charles Community College in Missouri, helped write the fifth edition of "College Algebra & Trigonometry," a Lial College Series textbook, by Pearson Addison Wesley Publishing. Daniels dedicated the book to her former professors at Ozarks.

The 1989 Ozarks graduate dedicated the book College Algebra & Trigonometry to her former Ozarks math professors Dr. Buddy Smith and Dr. Noel Rowbotham. Daniels helped write the fifth edition Lial College Series textbook, by Pearson Addison Wesley Publishing, with Marge Lial, John Hornsby and David Schneider.

Daniels said she dedicated the book in honor of her former professors because of the impact they had on her career. Smith is in his 32nd year of teaching mathematics at Ozarks and Rowbotham retired in 2006 after 27 years of teaching math and science at the university.

"All of my undergraduate mathematics courses were completed with Dr. Smith and Dr. Rowbotham and they were instrumental in both my education and my life's direction," Daniels said. "Naturally, I have adopted many of their teaching methods and philosophies. They were both very competent and compassionate educators and I hope that I am carrying on their traditions today with my own students. Additionally, Dr. Smith played an instrumental role in my choice of the University of Missouri-Rolla for graduate school. His connections there helped me to obtain a teaching assistantship and a fellowship scholarship. This opportunity gave me the background and experience needed to become a mathematics professor. So, he really made a huge impact on my direction in life. For that I am grateful."

After graduating from Ozarks, Daniels went on to earn a master's degree in applied mathematics from Missouri-Rolla before embarking on her college teaching career. She later went on to earn a master's degree in secondary education from the University of Missouri at St. Louis in 2003.

Daniels is in her 20th year as a math professor at SCC, which is located in Cottleville, Mo., just outside of St. Louis. She teaches algebra, trigonometry, statistics and applied match courses.

She has also served the college in other capacities, including department chairperson, faculty association president, faculty senator and curriculum committee chairperson. She has even served as a player-coach on the faculty softball team. In 2008 she was named the SCC Faculty Member of the Year.

Despite entering her second decade of teaching, Daniels said she still gets excited about the start of a new school year.

"Each semester presents a new opportunity to learn and grow with my students and to positively affect their lives," she said. "Plus, teaching gives me the opportunity to remain a perpetual college student. I love to learn and I love the college atmosphere."

Daniels said she has loved math since she was a child.

"Somehow I knew from a very young age that I would choose a profession that was math-related," she said. "Majoring in mathematics at U of O was an easy choice. I enjoy teaching mathematics because of its importance in everyday life. Math provides the foundation for all of the sciences and provides a mechanism for reasoning and problem solving. I enjoy the challenge of finding new ways of using technology in course design, and I am continually challenged to find ways to help students understand difficult concepts. I love a challenge."

Daniels, who was inducted in the Van Buren (Ark.) Hall of Honor in 2003, came to Ozarks as a standout athlete and starred in both basketball and tennis for the university from 1984-89. She is still second in the basketball program's career assists list with 391 and was a four-time academic All-American.

"Even though I was probably a better basketball player than mathematician, I am living proof that much can be accomplished through hard work and seizing opportunities as they present themselves," she said. "I am fortunate to be able to teach a subject that I love while also working with a group of co-authors whom I adore."

Daniels said she has fond memories of her time at Ozarks.

"My favorite memories were of playing basketball and tennis, dancing and listening to local bands, hanging out in the dorms with my friends, and enjoying the natural beauty of Johnson County," Daniels said. "We rode our bicycles to Scranton, spent time at King's Canyon, water skied and swam in the local lakes, rode four wheelers and horses. I remember that the people of Clarksville were very welcoming to the students and that the drivers there are the most courteous that I've encountered. U of O was a student's paradise."

Daniels continues to support Ozarks in any way she can, and has served on the school's Alumni Board in recent years.

"University of the Ozarks is a very special place," she said. "Not only did I earn a quality degree there, but I also learned the value of networking, creating friendships, and valuing people as our number one resource."

Daniels and her husband, Kurtis, have two sons, Clayton (age 15) and Grady (13), who are active in sports. When not solving math problems, Daniels enjoys inline skating, listening to music and riding horses. Her riding adventures have taken her to Montana and Wyoming in recent years. Her latest passion is writing and reading poetry.

"I aspire to be a cowgirl, mathematician, poet," she said.