2020 Elementary Mathematics Specialist Scholarship Recipient
Liberty Corner, New Jersey
Nicole Williams has been an educator for almost 20 years. She graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Liberal Arts in 2002 from Towson University and obtained a Masters of Science in Education in 2003 from Fordham University. She started her career at P.S. 43 Jonas Bronck. It was there she started to realize there was much more to math than the way she had learned it. She started incorporating Marilyn Burns’ tasks into her teaching but wanted to learn more. She spent the bulk of her career teaching at Manhattan School for Children where extensive training was provided by coaches from Mathematics in the City, City College established by Cathy Fosnot. Through this intensive training, it brought about not only a transformation in Nicole’s teaching but a deep passion for mathematics education. Through mathematics, students can either be made to feel excluded or included and it became clear that ensuring all students are made to feel capable of achieving and succeeding with rigorous math tasks would be her ultimate goal and driving philosophy. During the next decade, Nicole participated in numerous efforts to reform mathematics teaching and learning. Her classroom served as a model for professional development for teachers. She helped to lead learning communities where the instructional practice was observed and analyzed. She participated in a Math Inquiry team with her colleagues to develop protocols for looking at student work collaborated to develop and research best practices. Through her experience teaching 6th grade math, working with both general education and special education students, one of her most important strengths blossomed. She cultivated the ability to access the math understanding students already possessed and helped the students to build upon it. She learned that when students’ ideas are validated, they surprise you with how much they know. This experience allowed her to pursue a position as a Math Instructional Support Teacher in Bernards Township, New Jersey. For the past 3 years, she has been able to focus primarily on mathematics at the elementary level. She has helped to provide support for teachers looking for innovative ways to transform their math classes and for students who might feel disengaged from the subject. She is looking forward to deepening her own understanding so that she may better help the community she works in.
Nicole is incredibly grateful to be receiving this scholarship and wants to thank the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) for this amazing opportunity to assist in her ability to pursue her passion in the field of mathematics education.