After an unremarkable and uninteresting arithmetic experience as an elementary student, Mr. Bender, my seventh-grade math teacher, opened my eyes to what mathematics really was. I studied all the math I could in high school and chose to go to college at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) so that I could study mathematics and computer science.
It turned out that there were not many career options for women in computer science, so I began my career in education in 1970 as a junior high and high school math teacher in a small rural community in Eastern Colorado. From 1971 through 1979, I worked in the Jefferson County Schools (Colorado) as a junior high teacher and a teacher on special assignment. I finally found home in Texas where I served as the first mathematics coordinator in the LaPorte Independent School District. After briefly working in technology for the Austin schools, I became the Director of Mathematics for the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the state’s Department of Education, staying for almost eight years.
In the early 1990s, the Charles A. Dana Center was established at the University of Texas, and I worked with the Center on a number of projects, including the state’s Statewide Systemic Initiative and TEXTEAMS (TEXas Teachers Empowered for Achievement in Mathematics and Science), the statewide Title II professional development program. I also served in an advisory role with the development of the state’s mathematics curriculum, the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).
Over the years, I have worked as a consultant and speaker for school districts in Texas and the rest of the country. After leaving the Texas Education Agency, I also chose to be part of a textbook development team for Addison Wesley Publishers, participating in a high school series and a middle school series. (I should note that because of my extensive work in Texas, my previous state-level role, and my relationship with many schools in Texas, I arranged for a contract that provided no royalties for textbook sales in Texas.)
In 1999, after my children were grown, I set aside my other professional efforts to fulfill a 30-year dream of serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. From 1999 through the end of 2001, I taught mathematics (in French!) at the level of about middle school through about pre-calculus in Burkina Faso, West Africa.
After returning to the United States, I again worked as a consultant and speaker as a way to get back into my career as a mathematics educator. In 2002, I was offered the opportunity to work with the development of an online Algebra I course through the Distance Education Center at the University of Texas. From April 2004 through April 2006, I had the incredible opportunity to serve full-time as President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), continuing as Past President through April 2007.
I am pleased to be currently working again at the Dana Center on a variety of projects and initiatives related to state and national policy around education, especially PK-16 mathematics education. A major focus of my current work is coordinating the development, piloting, and implementation of a new course for 12th-grade students called Advanced Mathematical Decision Making.
During my career, I have been blessed with many wonderful opportunities, including participating in NCTM’s ground-breaking 1989 Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, serving on the NCTM Board of Directors, and working with great teachers and leaders throughout the country and around the world. My motivation has always been to do whatever it takes to help every student learn a high level of mathematics that can serve each of them in creating a bright future and in making contributions to society.