M.S., Moscow State University of Electronic Engineering
M.A., Moscow State University of Electronic Engineering
Educational Technology certificates (James Madison University, George Mason University)
Algebra 2 Honors
Russian native Nataliya Self graduated the Moscow State University of Electronic Engineering with M.S. in Biotechnology and M.A. in teaching English as a second language. She then spent three years as a scientific researcher in a public clinic in Moscow, studying brain activities and physiology. Her desire to research and explore, develop herself mentally and spiritually, travel, meet new people, and study a variety of cultures brought her to live in or visit 13 countries during her lifetime: Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, South Korea, Bahamas, Canada, and the U.S. She speaks several Slavic languages, Spanish and English.
After exploring Europe, Africa and Asia, she was eager to explore an American continent, and her first visit of the United States in 1999 as an exchange student gave her that chance, albeit briefly. After singing in Bulgaria, teaching music in the United Kingdom, scuba diving in Egypt, recording Buddha’s birthday celebration ceremony in South Korea, playing with dolphins and sailing in Ukraine—and let’s not forget enjoying downhill and cross-country skiing, parachuting, and water skiing in Russia—Ms. Self decided to embark on an adventure of a different kind: family. She married an American businessman and moved to United States permanently in 2003, the same year in which her son was born.
Upon returning to the professional world, her first teaching job was an English as a Second Language position for Mr. Rogers Regional Adult Education program. There she realized her passion: to nurture student’s understanding and to help them to obtain the skills necessary for the everyday changing world. She chose to teach math due to her strong background in mathematics and physics from Moscow State University of Electronic Engineering --an internationally renowned university.
Ms. Self taught high school mathematics in Middlesex, Warren and Rockingham counties beginning in 2007, and taught Fundamental Mathematics with Shepherd University as an adjunct professor. She joined the full-time R-MA staff in 2014, teaching Pre-Calculus, Advanced Mathematics/Transition to College Mathematics and Statistics, and Algebra II Honors. She quickly became a beloved member of the R-MA community, establishing a loving, caring, and challenging environment for the diverse group of international students at R-MA.
“I have to be very energetic and inspiring,” she acknowledged. “With math, it’s hard to do. My key to motivate them is that all jobs require math. Balancing equations, organization skills…it teaches you structure everywhere in your life. Math is the language of the universe.” (And if you don’t believe that, she added, check out this video.) Ms. Self describes her teaching style as clear and logical and incorporates the use of technology in her classes through computer labs run through her own blog page.
“Sometimes students don’t understand,” she said. “I try to get in their shoes, to see what is really troubling them so I can help.” She added, “I don’t want to put too much pressure on them, but I do have high expectations of them.”
Ms. Self wants her students to find their true passion, to grow spiritually and mentally, and to inspire other students to do their best in any of their endeavors. “Mathematics is gymnastics for your brain,” she tells her students. “Never stop being curious in finding different ways of solving a problem.” She reminds them that Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
Ms. Self sponsors both the Chess Club and the Math Club at R-MA, and continues to improve herself through technology education at James Madison University. She is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics and Virginia Educators Association.
Ms. Self enjoys playing piano and guitar, tennis and downhill skiing, traveling, and going to the concerts. She is a member of the International Group “Collage,” which organizes and sponsors International Children Festivals in Virginia. Her son is a soccer player and a gymnast, finishing 8th in Virginia in competitive edge gymnastics in 2015. Ms. Self is raising him to be bilingual and passionate for other cultures and languages.