Mathematics Education and Leadership

Mathematics Education Outstanding Student

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EducationThe Hood College Graduate School’s Outstanding Mathematics Education Student for 2018 is Katie Berrigan. A 6th grade teacher at Frederick County Public School’s Walkersville Middle, Katie received her M.S. in Mathematics Education in January. Dr. Cristy Danko Graybeal, director of Hood’s graduate mathematics education program, nominated Katie because she “excelled in all aspects of the program.” Her capstone project, titled Implementing Flexible Groups and the Impact on Student Achievement, was particularly impressive! Flexible grouping is a strategy where students work with different groups of classmates depending on the skills and the purpose of each exercise. She explained the theory behind and benefits of flexible grouping, and “explicitly addressed teacher concerns about flexible groups and provided realistic ideas for their implementation.” Katie has become a true leader for mathematics education, and we look forward to seeing her continue to succeed!

Thank you to Antoinette Border (’04) for funding this award!

Great Teaching Creates Great Teachers

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HarrigerMichelle Harriger still remembers her favorite teachers as a child and is working to be one of those memorable teachers for her students. A native of Montgomery County, she went to a small private school and still remembers two teachers: Mrs. Murtaugh, who taught English, and Mr. Peer, who taught math and physics. Michelle pursued becoming a math teacher, starting with her B.S. in Mathematics and Secondary Mathematics Education from the University of Maryland, and her M.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education from Hood College in 2017. Michelle is now in her 14th year of teaching at Sherwood High School in Olney and can’t imagine teaching anywhere else.


For Michelle, going to grad school was a way to continue to learn as a teacher, not to move into a different career path. As she explains, “when searching for a graduate program, it seemed as though many colleges’ evening programs were directed towards those trying to move into administration, rather than on improving their instruction. I love being a teacher. Hood was one of only a handful of places that would help me provide more effective instruction without putting my career on hold.” Timing also worked out perfectly for her as she started at Hood the same year that the rollout of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) began. She thinks that “my Hood courses, particularly Teaching Algebra and Teaching Geometry, helped me to understand the motivation and rationale behind the CCSS, which greatly improved my instruction.  My instructors also encouraged plenty of reflection and revision, both of which helped me achieve National Board certification.” Not only did Michelle enjoy her time at Hood, one of her co-workers followed her lead and is now pursuing her Masters at Hood! We wish them both the best!


Adding Up To A Great Teacher

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ThereaultFor Christine Thereault, teaching is all about being relevant, whether teaching elementary school students or other teachers. With 26 years of teaching experience in elementary and middle schools, she has been a classroom teacher, a special education teacher and a mathematics specialist. Christine works as the teacher specialist for mathematics at Windsor Knolls Middle School.

Thereault recently presented at the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) conference, where her ‘Helping Students to Persevere When All They Want to do is Throw in the Towel’ was one of the most popular sessions. She is also an instructor in graduate program at Hood College, teaching courses in the M.S. in Mathematics Education and M.S. in Mathematics Instructional Leadership programs. That Hood has an instructional leadership program is key to Thereault, who is thrilled that “Hood has both these certifications, so teachers can develop their content knowledge and their leadership.” Her own certification is an M.S. in Math Education from Western Maryland (now McDaniel) College and Educational Leadership Certification from Hood.  Thereault 2


Thereault was asked to teach at Hood after attending a workshop with several professors, including Christy Graybeal, Director of the Math Education Graduate Program. With Graybeal on maternity leave, Thereault substituted for her, and subsequently was recruited. As a professor, she thinks it is key for her students to not only learn about the latest research, but to be able to apply it. She also wants them to understand that “the best thing is that nothing has to be original, but you have to decipher if things are worthwhile or fluff”. There are so many resources available for teachers, and it’s great to use them, but they must be meaningful. That’s why Christine enjoys Hood’s emphasis on “the content knowledge, the depth and understanding of the math standards so teachers realize what they are building and where they are going.” She looks forward to co-teaching EDMA 530, Math Educational Leadership, with Dr. Graybeal and thinks that they can really help students by capitalizing on their “different areas of expertise”.

Celebrating Women in Math at Kovalevsky Day

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At Hood College, we know that math isn’t just for men! We want girls to understand that math can be a fun, relevant, and attainable career. This fall, the college invited girls from nine local high schools for Sonia Kovalevsky Day, in honor of the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics. Begun in 1985 by the Association for Women in Mathematics and celebrated at colleges throughout the country, 2017 was Hood’s 14th year participating. Students attended several workshops, such as “How to be Instagram Famous!” where they examined the algorithms that run the social media site, and “Barbie Bungee”, where they calculated and tester the right amount of bungee to drop Barbie off of a balcony. They also played “The Game of Criss Cross” and used math to understand the patterns of the game. After lunch and a presentation about Kovalevsky from Hood student Kara Conway, they heard from a career panel of women who are actively working in the mathematics field, including several Hood alumnae.

Kovalevsky BarbieDr. Christy Danko Graybeal, Associate Professor at Hood and Director of the Mathematics Education and Mathematics Instructional Leadership graduate programs, has participated in this event for several years and led the “Barbie Bungee” workshop. She explains “I look forward to this each year. It’s a great way to show students that learning math can be fun and hopefully inspires some high school girls to pursue degrees in mathematics in college.” As founding president of the Association of Maryland Mathematics Teacher Educators and the College Level Representative on the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics, as well as editor of that organization’s journal, Dr. Graybeal wants other women to understand math as relevant to them. Hood President Andrea Chapdelaine welcomed the students to campus, and other Hood faculty took part as well, such as Associate Professor of Management David Gurzick, who led the Instagram workshop, and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Jill Tyess, leader of “Criss Cross.”

Teachers at the participating high schools appreciate the opportunities events like this can lead to. Allie Blickenstaff, a Hood M.S. in Mathematics Education graduate, brings her students to Kovalevsky Day almost every year. “It is a great experience for girls to see other ways math can be used, both in careers and in other domains of math that they may not be introduced to at the high school level.  It’s a fun day for my students to meet other girls interested in mathematics and explore other ways they can apply their knowledge and problem-solving skills. The career panel always gives great advice on programs of study in college, seeking out career opportunities, and on how math can be used in various jobs that the students may not already know.”

Adding Up Degrees

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dunkleWhen Alisha Dunkle learned that Hood College had created an Master of Science in Mathematics Instructional Leadership, she knew that she was coming back! Alisha graduated from Hood in 2015 with a degree in early childhood education and a minor in mathematics education. After teaching in Frederick County Public Schools for several years, Alisha knew she need to get her Master’s degree. With a goal of becoming an elementary school math specialist, she searched for a program that fit. With classes that focus on both math content skills and how to teach them, and course scheduling in the evenings and summer, the instructional leadership program meets the needs of working teachers. Alisha chose the PreK-6th grade concentration. A 4th-9th grade concentration is also available.

Alisha started the program last January, and is enjoying both the classes and the people she met. Talking about her professors and classes, she says “I’ve been very lucky to have great professors who are respectful, funny, and passionate about what they’re teaching. Being at Hood has given me the tools I need to take my career in a new direction.” She loves being a student and being in school — probably why she became a teacher — and explains that while working full time and being in grad school is exhausting, she still loves to learn and knows that it is absolutely worth it!

Outstanding Student- Mathematics Education

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i-t2qcb6x-LKristen Portalea is currently a math teacher at Rockville High School in Montgomery County, in her 6th year teaching for Montgomery County Public Schools. When she began, Kristen was even recognized as the Novice Teacher of the Year.

Kristen’s article and lesson plans about the “Mathematics of Driving” were recently published in the spring edition of the Banneker Banner. The lessons were designed to spark a high school student’s interest and make math more relatable, and covered topics including measuring the grade of a hill, the coefficient of friction between the road and tires of a car, the minimum stopping distance for a vehicle, and the speed at which a driver will lose control around a curve.

In her free time, Kristen is an outdoors enthusiast, who has backpacked over 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail!

Greater Maryland Graduate Women in Science (GM-GWIS) Spring 2017 Travel Award

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PictureGreater Maryland Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) is the local chapter of an international organization dedicated to empowering women in science. The GWIS mission is “to build a global community to inspire, support, recognize and empower women in science. The organization strives to build a powerful international network of women scientists, mentor the leaders of today so that they can inspire the leaders of tomorrow and empower women scientists to excel in their careers.”

GM-GWIS is granting a “Travel Award” for GM-GWIS members for their participation to the DC Science Writers Association (DCSWA) Professional Development Day (PDD) on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Professional Development Day has been DCSWA’s signature event since 2006. Each year,
100 to 150 science reporters, editors, radio and video producers, freelancers, and students gather for a fun and exciting day of networking and skill-building. This year, PDD will include six panel sessions, three interactive workshops, a plenary speaker, breakfast and lunch, all-day resume coaching, and an invitation to socialize with your colleagues following the event. See the day’s agenda at

Benefits of the conference and award include: A great day of fun, learning, and networking opportunities, and the honor of placing the award on your resume.

The Travel Award will cover the registration fee and provide an additional $10 stipend for travel expenses such as gas or Metro, as breakfast and lunch are included in the registration fee. Up to two (2) awards may be made this year. Awardees must register and attend the meeting, and then submit receipts to GM-GWIS following the event to be reimbursed immediately. All graduate students who are GM-GWIS members are eligible. To register for professional Development Day, visit

Application Process: Applicants will submit an essay of 300-500 words that explains how they might benefit from attending this event. Applications are due by Wednesday, March 22; send your essay to; include name address, phone number, graduate school and major. If you do not receive next day e-mail confirmation of your submission, call: 301-304-0140. Awards will be announced on or before Sunday, March 26.

Applicants are encouraged to review the meeting agenda and the DCSWA website before completing their essay. Applicants do not need to be majoring in journalism or science writing. Science writing is a major part of many careers, and the information and networking opportunities of this meeting should benefit many types of STEM professions.

Application and Essay evaluation criteria:
1) Applicant is a graduate student and GM-GWIS member.
2) Essay quality:
• Writing, including grammar, structure, and use of support when needed
• Content convinces reviewer of applicant’s interest in the content of the meeting, and how it might benefit the applicant whatever her future career choice
3) Applications and essays will be evaluated by a panel of 3 or more members of the GM-GWIS Executive Committee.

* Awards may not be made if there are no applications that meet the guidelines proposed here, or if an awardee registers but does not attend the event.


Graduate Women in Science Establishes Local Chapter at Hood College

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FREDERICK, Md. — An international organization dedicated to empowering women in science is launching its 25th United States chapter Jan. 23.

The Greater Maryland Chapter of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) will launch at 6 p.m. in the Whitaker Campus Center Commons at Hood College. The event begins with an informal mixer followed by a lecture by featured speaker Col. Andrea Stahl, deputy commander of USAMRIID at Fort Detrick. Afterward, there will be a business meeting to discuss upcoming events for this new chapter.

The GWIS mission is “to build a global community to inspire, support, recognize and empower women in science. The organization strives to build a powerful international network of women scientists, mentor the leaders of today so that they can inspire the leaders of tomorrow and empower women scientists to excel in their careers.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information about GWIS, visit For more information about the launch event, contact April Boulton, Dean of Hood College’s Graduate School and Associate Professor of Biology, and co-founding member of the new chapter, at 301-696-3600 or

Hood College is Launching a New M.S. Program in Mathematics Education

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Hood College is officially launching its Master of Science in Mathematics Instructional Leadership on November 17th at 6 pm in the Whitaker Campus Center Commons, during the 8th Annual Mathematics Education Lecture.  The lecture, “Lesson Study and Beyond: Collaborative Reflection Cycles for Improving Mathematics Teaching” will be presented by Drs. Jennifer Bergner and Randall Groth from Salisbury University. The event, sponsored by Hood College’s Graduate School and the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics, is free and open to the public. A light dinner will be served. RSVP to Christy Graybeal at by Nov.10.

Maryland’s adoption of the Mathematics Instructional Leadership (M.I.L.) endorsement is aligned with many professional organizations’ recommendations and a nationwide movement to advocate that every elementary school has access to a mathematics leader. Thus, it is likely that the need for Mathematics Instructional Leaders will grow in the coming years.

The Math Instructional Leadership program offers a pathway for currently certified teachers to meet the requirements of the Maryland State Department of Education Mathematics Instructional Leadership endorsement in either grades Pre-K-6 or grades 4-9 while also earning a master’s degree. Evening and summer courses accommodate working teachers. Many program courses are offered partially online, and courses may be taken in a variety of sequences.

Hood Hosts High School Girls for Day of Math Exploration

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SK Day FinalHood’s Department of Mathematics recently hosted its 10th annual Sonia Kovalevsky Mathematics Day (SK Day) for high school girls. Students and teachers from Frederick County public high schools and St John’s Catholic Prep came for a day of mathematical exploration.

Hood mathematics education alumnae attending included Brittany Beresford M.S.’15, of Brunswick High School; Darrin Drum M.S.’13, of Walkersville High School; and Casey Rogers ‘97, mathematics teacher at Middletown High School.

After a welcome from Olivia White, vice president of student life and dean of students, SK Day participants engaged in workshops led by Hood faculty members Jill Tysse, assistant professor of mathematics; Martha Meadows, senior lecturer of mathematics; Georgette Jones, assistant professor of biology; and Erin George, assistant professor of economics.

Hood mathematics students Sienna Bronson ’16 and Lew Dean ’16 spoke about the life of Sonia Kovalevsky, the first woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics. Hood alumnae composed a mathematics career panel: Robin Winkler-Pickett ’84, M.S.’07, scientific operations manager of the Cancer and Inflammation Program at the National Cancer Institute; Abisola Abolude ’09, research analyst at IMPAQ International; and Alison Schuetz ’15, business analyst at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Amanda Forster, materials research engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, rounded out the panel.

SK Day was supported by PNC Bank through the Community Foundation of Frederick and by Frederick County Public Schools.