Sybilla Beckmann

Twenty-Fourth Annual Louise Hay Award

     AWM established the Louise Hay Award to recognize outstanding achievements and contributions in 

any area of mathematics education. While Louise Hay was widely recognized for her contributions to 

mathematical logic and for her strong leadership, her devotion to students and her lifelong commitment 

to nurturing the talent of young women and men secure her reputation as a consummate educator.  The 

annual presentation of this award is intended to highlight the importance of mathematics education and 

to evoke the memory of all that Hay exemplified as a teacher, scholar, administrator, and human being.

Citation

Sybilla Beckmann

     The 2014 Louise Hay Award is presented to Sybilla Beckmann, Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching 

Professor of Mathematics at the University of Georgia, in recognition of her vision, persistence, and 

leadership in enhancing the teaching and learning of mathematics in this country and beyond.  Her work 

is based on her insight that sustainable improvement in mathematics education can only occur when the 

mathematical culture in the schools and the universities is ``built on respect for the innate mathematical 

abilities that are the birthright of every student.”  She has worked to energize every link of this chain, 

from the daily challenges that teachers face in their classrooms to the highest levels of the national 

discussions of K-12 education. 

     Sybilla has made substantial contributions to Galois theory.  She began her career as a Gibbs 

Instructor at Yale University and has been at the University of Georgia since 1988.  More bravely, she 

taught sixth grade for a year and volunteered at another elementary school where she ``started a math 

revolution.”  Her redesigned mathematics courses for prospective elementary teachers led to her highly 

regarded and widely adopted textbook, and she created the Mathematicians Educating Future Teachers 

program.  She was a writer of the NCTM’s Curriculum Focal Points for PreKindergarten through Grade 

Eight and two supplemental books.  She played a significant role in writing the Common Core State 

Standards in Mathematics and was the lead writer on the elementary grades for The Mathematical 

Education of Teachers II.   

Response from Sybilla Beckmann

 As a longtime member of AWM, I am thrilled and deeply honored to receive this award. I hope I can use 

it to draw attention to the need for all of us who teach math – at any level – to join together to make 

the mathematics teaching community a strong, vibrant, and intellectually engaging one. We need to 

think together about mathematics teaching, and to vet, use, and build on the best ideas about it. We 

need to own our profession and take pride in it. 

     Louise Hay said “that sources of inspiration and opportunities to change your life can come 

unexpectedly and should not be ignored; and that you should not neglect the dictates of your own 

career, taking some risks if necessary,” words with which I wholeheartedly agree. It is still a surprise to 

me that mathematics education has become my passion. I am so grateful to so many people for helping 

me pursue this passion. My wonderful family has put up with all the time and intensity I devote to my 

work. My extraordinary Department of Mathematics at the University of Georgia has given me unfailing 

support, even as I have chosen a path quite different from the usual one in a math department. My 

colleagues in mathematics education at the University of Georgia and across the country have 

welcomed me, worked with me, and taught me so much. But especially, thank you to AWM—a uniquely 

positive, personal, and encouraging organization—for this special honor.
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