National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Honors Lifetime Achievement Awards in Mathematics Education

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NCTM named Barbara J. Reys and Ed Dickey as recipients of the NCTM Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics Education

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) named Barbara J. Reys and Ed Dickey as recipients of the NCTM Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics Education yesterday at the opening ceremony of the Council’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco. This award honors those who over a lifetime have contributed significantly to mathematics education through their leadership, teaching, and service at the national level. Since the award’s inception in 1994, the Mathematics Education Trust (MET) has honored 50 individuals. The list of awardees reads like a “Who’s Who” in mathematics education.

Barbara J. Reys of Columbia, Missouri, is best known for her ability to identify an area of need and then organize and lead a team of professionals to undertake that work. Her pioneering efforts in conjunction with her husband (Robert Reys, 2008 NCTM Lifetime Achievement Awardee) led to a reconceptualization of what it means to estimate and do mental math, and they have come to define the importance of these skills under the broader notion of number sense.

Reys’s early experience teaching mathematics at every grade, from grade 1 through high school, grounded her later work in teacher preparation and instilled in her a great respect for the hard work of classroom teachers.

Reys’s involvement in NCTM at the national level began in her early years of teaching, first as a member of the Educational Materials Committee and later as a member or chair of three Yearbook Editorial Panels. She was the founder of the University of Missouri Mathematics Teacher Organization (UM2TO)—one of the first NCTM Student Affiliates. She and her husband also founded the STaR Program—an early-career induction program for mathematics educators working in higher education. On behalf of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, one of NCTM’s largest Affiliates, she chaired the commission that developed standards for the preparation of elementary mathematics specialists and created a program in Missouri to certify EMS professionals on the basis of these standards.

Much of Reys’s scholarship and service have focused on standards-based curriculum reform—in unison with NCTM—and she led efforts to help schools implement innovative curriculum materials that emphasized sense making and problem solving. She led the grades 3–5 writing group for NCTM’s landmark publication Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. In the next 15 years after its publication she coordinated efforts to study and disseminate information about curriculum standards, including advocating for a common set of standards across states. She directed the highly successful Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum, which awarded more than 50 doctoral degrees to students with expertise in curriculum development and research.

Ed Dickey of Columbia, South Carolina, is a professor of mathematics, associate department chair of instruction and teacher education, and a director of the Office of Educational Outreach at the University of South Carolina (USC). In addition to his significant contributions at USC, he has also taught at Columbia College and in the Richland County School District.

Dickey’s career has been spent encouraging students to become science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers, implementing instructional technology to facilitate learning, and leveraging his abilities to contribute to a multitude of professional organizations.

Dickey has always been intrigued by the intersection of mathematics and technology. He was fascinated by the mechanical calculator that his high school teacher had brought into the classroom, and later, as a teacher himself, he purchased his school’s first Apple II computer. Dickey was motivated by the opportunities afforded by technology to improve mathematics education. In addition, he credits the 1984 NCTM Yearbook, Computers in Mathematics Education, for bringing algebra systems into mainstream mathematics education.

A member of NCTM for more than 38 years, Dickey has demonstrated an enduring commitment to the professional growth of his students, colleagues, and teachers. His dedication has been evident through faithful service to NCTM and the math education community. He was nominated for the NCTM Board of Directors in 1996, 1998, and 2008, served on the Council’s High School Institute Task Force, founded its first online journal, ON-Math, and has served NCTM in numerous other capacities in support of future mathematics teachers.

To learn more about this year’s NCTM Lifetime Achievement Awardees visit


The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is the public voice of mathematics education, providing vision, leadership, and professional development to support teachers in ensuring mathematics learning of the highest quality for all students. With 80,000 members and more than 200 Affiliates, NCTM is the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving mathematics education in prekindergarten through grade 12. The Council’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics includes guidelines for excellence in mathematics education and issues a call for all students to engage in more challenging mathematics. Its Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics identifies the most important mathematical topics for each grade level. Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making advocates practical changes to the high school mathematics curriculum to refocus learning on reasoning and sense making. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All describes the policies and actions required for a high-quality mathematics education for all students. NCTM is dedicated to ongoing dialogue and constructive discussion with all stakeholders about what is best for our nation's students.

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