Lifetime Passion for Math Adds Up to State Award

Lifetime Passion for Math Adds Up to State Award
Posted on 09/25/2014

NEWARK (September 25, 2014) – Twenty-eight year mathematics educator Rosemary Heher was selected as a 2014 Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, in the Mathematics Educator category. Each year, MCTM recognizes a select group of outstanding math educators in Maryland whose work in mathematics is extraordinary.

“This award is a testimony to Rosemary Heher’s work ethic, commitment, and expertise in the field of mathematics,” said Superintendent Dr. Jerry Wilson. “When one is recognized by their peers, it represents a strong testament to the caliber of the recipient’s dedication and value to others in the profession.”

When Heher reflects on her lifetime achievements in mathematics, she values the importance of having all of the contributing factors working in concert to generate success. In fact, to describe who and what has contributed to this prestigious recognition, Heher uses the analogy of a bracelet, where each link is dependent on the other for strength and success. She identifies school system leadership, teachers, colleagues, students, community, and partnerships as vital links in the chain of success.

Over the course of her teaching career, Heher has taught in every grade band – at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as at the undergraduate and graduate collegiate levels. She has even taught internationally, starting her teaching career in Guam. In addition, Heher has held positions in three Maryland school districts: Prince George’s, Wicomico, and Worcester. Heher joined Worcester County Public Schools 15 years ago as the Coordinator of Instruction for Mathematics.

Heher cherishes each of her experiences as a mathematics educator. “I couldn’t pick a favorite,” said Heher. “It would be like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. You love them all; each one is special.”

According to Heher, her relationship with mathematics was not love-at-first-sight; she actually considered herself to be language-arts driven. The change in focus was sparked by a special teacher. That teacher, who later became Heher’s mentor when she enrolled in Salisbury University’s graduate program in mathematics, is SU emeritus professor of mathematics Dr. Donald C. Cathcart. “He saw something in me,” said Heher, “that I didn’t see in myself. He nurtured me.” Cathcart was so instrumental in Heher’s mathematics career that she later named him and his wife as her daughter’s God Parents. “His belief in me illustrates the power of a teacher,” she said.

Heher has a long list of successes which were part of her application, after being nominated by William Barnes, Secondary Mathematics Coordinator for Howard County Public Schools. Barnes is also the liaison to the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics. “It is special when someone from ‘across the bridge’ recognizes your contributions at the state level,” said Heher.

Heher’s many successes highlight her passion for collaboration. For example, she participates in a collaborative group (Eastern Shore Mathematics Supervisors’ Consortium) which she affectionately calls the “Eastern Shore Nine,” representing each Eastern Shore school district. “We share innovations, provide professional development, and exchange books and materials with each other,” said Heher. “Collectively, we also qualify for better pricing when we need to make purchases.”

The Eastern Shore Nine has also worked collaboratively to create a common framework to guide each district’s curriculum development, according to Dr. John Quinn, Chief Academic Officer for WCPS, in a letter of recommendation for Heher. “No one is more deserving than Rosemary Heher for this prestigious award,” he wrote.

In addition to collaboration, Heher understands the power of partnerships. The following are a few of her affiliations coupled with the work she has accomplished:

  • Salisbury University – is a co-developer of unique graduate level mathematics courses;
  • Eastern Shore Mathematics Supervisors’ Consortium – a founding member whose contributions improve mathematics curriculum and instruction on the Eastern Shore;
  • Maryland Council of Supervisors of Mathematics – elected as one of two directors in the state; and
  • Worcester County Commission for Women – selected as the education honoree for efforts which impact student performance in mathematics in Worcester County.

Heher and the other 2014 MCTM Excellence in Teaching Award recipients will be recognized on October 16 in Baltimore.