AMTE’s annual meeting in Orlando is just around the corner and I’m excited about the conference. The title of our opening Thursday morning plenary session is Challenges and Opportunities on Our Journeys of Embodying our Commitment to Equity, during which a panel of mathematics educators will reflect upon their individual journeys of infusing equity into their professional work.
In planning conversations with the panel members, I was inspired by the stance taken by the presenters. Marrielle Myers, Rochelle Gutiérrez, and Kelly MacArthur view themselves on journeys with no endpoint. They try to see what is working, what might be tweaked, and then move ahead with curiosity, humility, and a deep commitment to caring about all learners.
To highlight our organization’s commitment to these central issues, the session will be book-ended by three board members, with president–elect Mike Steele and me opening the session, and Board Member-at–Large Christa Jackson closing the session and leading the discussion. We view this session as designed for all of our members, regardless of where they are on their personal journey. Furthermore, by opening the 2019 annual meeting with this session, we hope that attendees might be even more motivated than usual to push along their own journey of infusing equity into their work, and perhaps they might look for additional opportunities over the three-day conference to engage in conversations. I know that this session will be offered early in the morning for those coming from western time zones, but please plan to join us!
Also at the 2019 annual conference we will recognize the extraordinary work of two AMTE members who have committed themselves to making our annual conferences special: Susan Gay, Conference Director, and Carol Lucas, Assistant Conference Director, both of whom are stepping down from their respective positions. Are you aware that they are the only two who have served in these positions for AMTE? Susan has served as Conference Director since 2001 and Carol has served as Assistant Conference Director since 2008!
My two–year term as president will end at the closing business meeting at the conference when Mike Steele takes the gavel, so this is my last Connections post. I’ll continue to serve one more year as immediate–past president, but I’d like to take a brief opportunity to reflect upon my experience as president. Wow. What an extraordinary experience! I had served on the board before and I had some idea of what the president did, but I had no idea what it felt like to be the president of an organization. AMTE has 13 board members overseeing five divisions and headquarters, about 20 associate vice presidents (committee chairs) who collectively work with about 75 committee members. Our work includes publishing journals and books, offering an active webinar series, maintaining an informative website, running the STaR program, putting on annual conferences, keeping our financial records, and supporting each other in trying to represent the 1000 mathematics teacher educators who belong to AMTE.
I mention all of these people because fundamentally, that’s what an organization is about: the people who have come together with a shared set of goals and values, in our case, devoted to the improvement of mathematics teacher education. But an organization’s values are always evolving, and over the past two years I have had many conversations with people who have supported me in trying to simultaneously react to what has been going on in our professional sphere and proactively plan for our future in a manner that both reflects and expands our values.
My favorite work was my most difficult work, but I could not have done it without many people. I will call out just a few special people to thank. I thank a small group of friends and colleagues who helped me grapple with difficult issues. Whether they reacted to pieces I’d written or talked to me about a particular challenge, they helped me consider multiple perspectives, something that all effective presidents must do. Thank you to Christine Thomas and Mike Steele, whose presidencies overlapped mine. Thank you to AMTE’s five inaugural vice presidents, Maggie McGatha, Lynn Breyfogle, Christine Browning, Paola Sztajn, and Suzanne Harper, who helped launch our new restructuring before any of us knew how, or even if, it would work. And most of all I thank one person whose commitment to AMTE always inspired me, whose friendship always made me feel as if someone had my back, and whose indelible spirit and love made the work a true joy. Executive Director Tim Hendrix. Thank you, Tim.