Collins, Director of Mathematics Programs at Lesley, wins 2013 Nadine Bezuk Excellence in Leadership and Service in Mathematics Teacher Education Award
Friday, May 31, 2013
The Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) honored Collins with the 2013 Nadine Bezuk Excellence in Leadership and Service in Mathematics Teacher Education Award for her significant contributions to the mathematics education field and professional organizations.
As director of the Lesley’s Center for Mathematics Achievement, Collins’ professional development programs in underperforming urban districts have directly improved student achievement on state assessments, and she has received over $8 million in grant funding to support these research-based initiatives, influencing the teaching of mathematics in many communities.
“My whole forte is how to unpack mathematics in a way that makes it easy for students to understand and relate the concepts they’re learning in math to other areas of their life,” said Collins.
Through Lesley’s Center for Mathematics Achievement, Collins reaches out to school districts across Massachusetts to provide professional development to teachers, and to offer grant-funded master’s degrees for K-8 teachers.
In Springfield, for example, the program has already graduated 44 teachers with a master’s degree in math education, and 12 have earned initial licensure. And evidence to support the program continues to grow.
“In Revere, we first started out eight years ago. After three years, the city noticed MCAS scores for students who had teachers in our programs were outperforming their counterparts on the state MCAS,” said Collins. “So since then, Revere has brought us back every year to work with new teachers or those who don’t have licensure.”
An inductee into the Massachusetts Mathematics Educators Hall of Fame, Collins believes teachers who truly understand and embrace mathematical concepts will translate that understanding and excitement to their students.
“Most of teachers we work with learn math through wrote memorizations of algorithms without an understanding of how they’re applied,” said Collins. “We unpack those algorithms so teachers understand where they came from. Our work focuses on developing concrete and pictorial representations of ideas in math, and we work through them through investigations so teachers have that ‘Aha moment.’”
The AMTE’s Excellence in Leadership Award also hails Collins’ contributions to the mathematics education field and professional organizations. A founding member of the board of the Massachusetts Mathematics Association of Teacher Educators, Collins has served as past president of state and regional mathematics teacher associations and on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Board of Directors.
Through her work with professional organizations, Collins presents on a host of strategies for teachers to teach difficult concepts with understanding.
She presented at the Algebra Readiness Institute in Atlanta last summer, and spoke at the annual National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in Denver. She spent 10 days in Seoul, Korea last summer at the International Congress on Mathematical Education, working on formative assessment, which was a “wonderful experience,” she said.
Collins began her career as an elementary school teacher, and then took a break to raise her children. She later went back to college and got her math degree, teaching high school and middle school math for 15 years before going on to become math coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She then worked at Boston College funded by grants from the Raytheon Company and the Noyce Foundation to provide professional development for teachers implementing the Connected Math project, and she has worked at Lesley for the past eight years.
“I’ve had tremendous support from my colleagues at Lesley,” said Collins. “We‘ve got an amazing math department, and with their support, I’ve been able to do all of this.”
Collins believes one of the key tenets of Lesley’s success is the work on the ground in schools, collaborating hand-in-hand with teachers.
“We are definitely at the cutting edge,” Collins asserted. “What sets us apart from everyone else, in addition to the way we teach math to undergraduates and graduates, is our work in the districts. And during the time we’re not meeting with teachers, they have homework to do and we support them through our online environment at Lesley, which is really powerful.”
Collins, who lives in Hanover, holds a Ph.D. from Boston College; a C.A.G.S. from Harvard University; an M.A. from Cambridge College; a B.A. from Westfield State University; and a B.S. Framingham State University.
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