Christine Mondragon

Mathematics Teacher
Oak Park and River Forest High School


Christine's journey to becoming a math teacher started at home with her parents. Both her mother and father were teachers. Christine enjoyed math and science classes at school, so she decided to study engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Christine graduated in 1990 with a BS degree in engineering and began to work for the state of Illinois as an environmental engineer. While working as an engineer was interesting, Christine could not ignore her desire to teach, so she made the decision to attend DePaul University. The unique Master's program allowed her to continue working full-time while earning a degree in Secondary Math Education. The positive impact she made while student teaching at Oak Park and River Forest High School led to her being hired immediately as a full-time math teacher there. After 23 years of teaching at this school she continues to be happy with her decision to become a teacher.

Christine believes success in Algebra is the key to taking advanced mathematics classes. She has spent more than half her teaching career teaching Algebra I. Christine has taught everything from Pre-Algebra to AP Calculus BC, but she keeps returning to teaching Algebra because of how critical it is for her students. In addition to teaching, Christine has been a math team coach for 20 years, earning top titles with her team and qualifying for state regularly. As a teacher, Christine has earned the honor of being selected to present at conferences such as the Metropolitan Mathematics Club of Chicago's Conference of Workshops, Minority Student Achievement Network, and was recently selected by Collegio San Carlo School in Milan to virtually present on Women in STEM. Christine is dedicated to promoting female math students both on the math team and by starting a Women in STEM club for students at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Christine loves showing students the beauty in mathematics, “The patterns we find in linear functions versus exponential functions can be amazing and beautiful.” Christine likes to show the beauty of math in real life examples such as sequences and fractals.  She believes when students can see and understand the patterns, they build their confidence and understanding of mathematics. Her favorite function is y=e^x, she hopes all her students find a favorite function too.

Educators have been tested in multiple ways over the past two years, but Christine feels the best advice is still to always keep in mind why you went into education. She tells other educators, “The students have to be the center of the choices you make and they are the reason that self-care for teachers is important to remember. We can only be strong teachers if we support each other and give ourselves grace. That is how we are able to be patient and supportive of each student.”

Christine says “Teaching is hard, rewarding but hard.” She thinks teachers need to feel supported from administration, school boards, and the community at large. She believes this can happen with simple gestures like providing time for teachers to collaborate, plan, and just breathe. She also thinks it is also important for teachers to feel that their voice is heard in educational decision making.

“Hispanic Heritage Month makes me stop and appreciate all the adversities my ancestors endured so I could succeed. None of my grandparents finished high school. They came to this country to have a better life. They worked hard at any job they could find to give my parents a good life. I hope they are proud of what I have achieved.”