Baltimore County Public Schools
Jefferson Building, 3rd Floor
105 W. Chesapeake Avenue
Towson, MD 21204
John W. Staley, Ph. D.
Director, PreK-12 Mathematics
Touching the life of each student one at a time has been my mission and purpose for the past 27 years as I've served as a mathematics teacher and central office mathematics administrator. Early in my career I realized that there was more to teaching mathematics than the topics and problems in a textbook. It was about believing in each and every student.
As we prepare for the new PARCC, Smarter Balance, and other State assessments it is even more important that we show our students that mathematics is about more than the content in books but about the belief we instill in them. A belief that they have the ability to think critically, problem solve, and communicate using mathematics as a tool and a language, a universal language that transcends race, socioeconomic status, culture, gender, and truly opens doors of access and opportunity around the world.
The next few years needs to be about more than teaching students new Standards and preparation for assessments but should focus on the entire mathematics education community coming together to make mathematics meaningful, relevant, and accessible for each and every student. Think back to the last time there was a focus on MATHEMATICS. We are now living in a new era, one where educators from around the world are coming together to engage in conversations around mathematics and more importantly student achievement in the mathematics classroom. I encourage you to remember that the conversation is much more than a discussion of new standards and assessments but it involves touching a teacher, one at a time, and instilling in them the belief that they have the ability to change our students' experiences in the mathematics classroom and thus change their future.
As I reflect on this next chapter in my life and service to the mathematics education community I am excited about this moment in history as we embrace the changes in mathematics education initiated by the Common Core Standards. I am truly blessed and thankful for the experiences I have had and the individuals who have touched my life and helped shape my career.
Two key professional experiences stand out in my mind when I look back over my twenty-seven years as a mathematics educator: my first NCTM Annual conference and my first NCSM Annual conference. As a second year teacher in 1988, I was excited when they told me I could go to Disney World (oops I mean Orlando, FL) for the NCTM Annual conference. I don't remember much about the conference, but the one thing I do remember is leaving so excited to be a mathematics teacher and with a hunger to learn more to reach my students.
Fast forward sixteen years to 2005, I am now working as the secondary mathematics coordinator in Baltimore County and once again I'm excited when they tell me I can go to Disney Land (oops I mean Anaheim, CA) for my first NCSM Annual conference. Little did I know that I would be exhausted, in a good way, after three days of sessions, talks, lunches, and breakfasts. Not a moment was wasted and once again my cup was full as I returned to work excited and ready to lead teachers to grow and change so that they might reach more students. It's ironic that both of these professional "firsts" occurred in the places where dreams do come true and the spirit of excitement is rekindled in everyone. "When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are..." If you can dream it and believe it, you can achieve it.
When I think of the many individuals who have touched my life and helped me become the person who I am today-husband, father, teacher, follower, leader, mentor, mentee, friend- I want to say thank you. The list of individuals is too long to include here; but I want you to know that I have been blessed that our paths have crossed and each and every person has played a role in helping me become who I am today. "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." (Isaac Newton, February 5, 1675)