The BWCC and Maryland Mathematics: A Critical Connection
By Jonathan A. Wray
About four years ago, a small group representing the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) met with Walt Townshend, BWCC President & CEO, and Wayne Wilhelm, Wilhelm Commercial Builders and President of the BWCC Foundation, at the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber and the BWCC Foundation headquarters in Laurel. I was the newly elected president of the MCTM, the state-affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and charged with overseeing the work of the 26-member Board of Directors. The BWCC and the National Security Agency had just co-sponsored its thirteenth annual Secondary Mathematics Symposium at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum, Maryland. Historically, the symposium drew upwards of 140 attendees, mostly middle and high school math teachers, from Anne Arundel and Howard counties. However due to budget cuts, it appeared as if the symposium had run its course.
Through its Foundation the BWCC was eager to continue its support of mathematics through teacher education. Despite earlier cuts in the state-administered, federal Eisenhower Grant program, which helped Maryland’s schools defray some of the cost for teachers’ professional development, the MCTM was looking to extend its reach to even more of its 1200+ public and private school (PreK-16) members throughout Maryland. It was during the initial meeting and succeeding planning sessions, that both organizations vowed to develop a long-lasting partnership which has taken on the form of a first class statewide mathematics conference—Maryland’s largest annual math event—that has steadily improved in quality over each of the last three years.
One of the strategies that clearly benefited both members of the MCTM and participating BWCC business partners has been the development of corporate level sponsorships through the BWCC Foundation. Contributions have kept registration fees low, provided continental breakfast and boxed lunches for all attendees, offered keynote speaker honorariums, t-shirts for volunteers, conference tote bags, door prizes, and customer discounts. In return, the BWCC Foundation corporate-level sponsors receive a great deal of name recognition through marketing and/or exhibiting opportunities and the satisfaction of impacting the lives of Maryland’s almost 870,000 students.
One of the largest outgrowths of the partnership has been the recognition of Maryland as a national leader in education. In January, Maryland was rated the nation’s number one school district in Education Week’s “Quality Counts” report. A month later, College Board’s “Annual Advanced Placement (AP) Report to the Nation” indicated that the percentage of Maryland seniors who earned a score of 3 or higher on one or more 2008 AP exams reached 23.4 percent, the highest percentage in the nation. Maryland also ranked highest in the percentage of graduating seniors who participated in the AP exams.
This past April the MCTM co-hosted the 2009 NCTM Annual Meeting and Exposition, which drew over 13,000 mathematics educators, researchers, pre-service teachers, and educational policy makers from around the world to the Washington, DC area. As the BWCC and the MCTM prepare for this coming school year’s statewide conference, plans are already underway for the October 14-15, 2010 NCTM Regional Conference (one of three held throughout the U.S. each year) at the Baltimore Convention Center, an event that will take the place of the MCTM Annual Conference. Maryland is awaiting final confirmation that it will be host to the 2013 NCTM Regional Conference, a “triple-crown” honor never before bestowed on a host-affiliate in such a slim time interval. The confidence in Maryland’s ability to continue to serve as a leader in providing these important career development opportunities for math educators in Maryland (and attract other teachers from throughout the U.S.) is a tremendous by-product of the success derived from the partnership forged between the BWCC Foundation corporate level sponsors and the MCTM.
Despite this good news, the impact of the current economic recession has left Maryland educators with a feeling of overall uncertainty due to staff hiring freezes, cuts in salaries and positions, and ultimately greater reductions in funding for professional development and teacher education programs. The education stimulus may provide minimal and/or temporary relief for some, however Maryland’s educational leaders continue to search for creative ways to protect classrooms and career development programs like the MCTM Annual Conference and others from the brunt of the financial crisis. Continued business level support is needed more now than ever before.
I am thrilled to announce that the National Security Agency’s Deputy Director, Mr. John C. (Chris) Inglis, will be serving as the keynote speaker for the upcoming October 16, 2009 MCTM Annual Conference, to be held at Northwest High School in Germantown (Montgomery County), Maryland. A very active member of the BWCC community, the NSA is the world’s largest employer of mathematicians, and has been a partner of the MCTM for decades. This year’s conference theme is Maryland Mathematics: Making Connections in a Diverse and Changing World. Corporate-level sponsorships are desperately needed this year as MCTM hopes to be able to offer a record number of event registration scholarships for teachers to attend, as well as provide a webcast of the Deputy Director’s keynote presentation via the Council’s website (www.marylandmath.org).
As more people realize the important role that mathematics plays in the education of Maryland’s students and their preparation for careers in companies and organizations such as those who do business within the Corridor, I can’t think of a better opportunity to make a critical connection in support of this valuable work by serving as a BWCC Foundation corporate-level sponsor.
On behalf of all members of the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics, a heartfelt thank you goes to all BWCC Foundation sponsors—past, present, and future—which help support the work of those who strive to improve mathematics teaching and learning each day in Maryland.