Jayhawk Math Teachers’ Circle

Overview

The Jayhawk Math Teachers’ Circle brings together K-12 mathematics teachers from Northeast Kansas with university mathematics instructors to practice mathematical thinking, discussion, and collaboration. Our activities will highlight the participatory and fun nature of mathematics, and we hope that teachers will learn to develop and deploy similar experiences for their own students. Math is not just a collection of rules and algorithms: it is about patterns, reasoning, and articulation, and it is beautiful!

The open-ended activities tackled by members of a Math Teachers' Circle require the use of “21st-century skills,” whose development is at the forefront of state-level education advocacy efforts in Kansas. To that end, the Jayhawk MTC will help members of local educational communities pursue crucial state initiatives.

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Leadership Team

Will Dunn is a mathematics teacher at Tonganoxie High School (USD 464). He is a graduate of KU’s UKanTeach Program. He has served as co-coordinator and presenter for in-district high school mathematics professional development on inquiry-based lesson design.

Jeremy Martin is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics at KU. His professional experience includes serving as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Kansas Section of the MAA, including hosting the statewide meeting in 2017, and founding and organizing the Great Plains Combinatorics Conference at KU (2014, 2016). He has given numerous expository talks and workshops for audiences including high school, junior high, and elementary students.

Jila Niknejad is a Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at KU. She has served as the local coordinator of the Math Kangaroo and MathCounts K–12 competitions, including organizing preparatory sessions.

Cynthia Rood is a mathematics teacher at Southwest Middle School in Lawrence (USD 497). She is a KU graduate (1993) and has worked in Lawrence Public Schools her entire career. Her interests include integrating the standards for mathematical practice into instruction as well as working to make use of technology in a meaningful way. She has worked as a Math Specialist at the middle school level and has also provided enrichment experiences to students through gifted education.

Acknowledgments

The Jayhawk Math Teachers' Circle is made possible by support from the University of Kansas Mathematics Department and the Gerda Dorfmeister Education Fund.

About Gerda Dorfmeister

Gerda Dorfmeister reached out to elementary school teachers in the 1990s to help strengthen the teaching of mathematics and physical sciences in grades one through six. She developed workshops for teachers across the state. She was the lead instructor at the DREAMS (Doing Real Elementary Applied Mathematics and Science) workshop held in June 1995. The purpose of this workshop was to help take away the fear of sciences. Gerda believed hands-on methods could make science fun and that playful experiments served as laboratories for younger children. She believed concrete examples were an important component to textbook learning.

Upon her death in 1997, friends and family established the Gerda Dorfmeister Elementary Mathematics and Sciences education fund. This endowed fund is be used to enhance the mission of the University of Kansas to provide quality teachers of mathematics and physical sciences in Kansas elementary schools. The fund will support activities which help to improve the teaching of mathematics and physical sciences in grades one through six and the creation of new teaching materials. Each activity shall have a substantial subject matter component with projects equally stressing subject matter and pedagogy.

Gerda was an adjunct assistant professor of physics at KU, with her last appointment ending June 1996. She started as a graduate teaching assistant in 1988 and received her doctorate in physics from KU in 1991. She also had taught at Rockhurst College, Kansas City, MO. Her husband, Josef Dorfmeister, was a KU professor of mathematics from 1988-2000. They had a son, Josef, and a daughter, Leni.