The late Beatriz S. D’Ambrosio, Department of Mathematics, Miami University, Oxford OH
Dr. D’Ambrosio is a faculty member in a department of mathematics and has teaching responsibilities in the preparation of teachers of mathematics for the K-12 levels and in the work with teachers (middle school and high school) pursuing master’s degrees. Her work is focused on the study and teaching of issues related to equity in mathematics instruction and mathematics teaching for social justice. She also studies student and teacher reasoning and sense-making with an emphasis on place-value, graphing, and proportional reasoning. Her teaching is focused on helping future teachers experience a constructivist learning environment and understand the role of the teachers in supporting children’s construction of knowledge when learning mathematics and the importance of teachers listening to students in an effort to build models of students’ mathematical thinking. She also works with practicing teachers as they pursue their master’s degrees and conduct studies in their classrooms where they analyze their teaching practices and study the impact on students’ reasoning and sense-making.
Outside of the university she is involved in a school-based project (part of the Miami University Partnership Office), a collaborative project with the Middletown City Schools. This is a troubled school district serving large numbers of children of color and economically disadvantaged that has seen dismal standardized test scores over the years. Her role is to support the mathematics teacher professional development efforts of the district. Her research interests focus on one of the schools in the district – Central Academy — a school of choice offering a multi-age setting teaching with thematic units for grades K-8. The school operates within the constraints of the district administrators and struggles to implement graded curriculum in a non-graded setting. She supports teachers with professional development as they adapt the district’s mandated curricular materials (Investigations in Number, Data and Space and Mathematics in Context) for their multi-age setting. The work involves aligning the curricular materials and pedagogy to those proposed by the John Goodlad National League of Democratic Schools, of which Central Academy is an active member.
During the years of 2006-2009 she served as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In that role she had ample opportunity to influence the Council’s strategic priorities in the direction of placing greater emphasis on the issues of equity in mathematics education. One of the results of her efforts at NCTM was her appointment as an editorial board member and Board of Directors liaison for the JRME special issue on mathematics identity and power. In helping to shape the special issue she came to better understand the many struggles of young researchers in the field trying to study complex and politically charged questions and issues. This effort resulted in a volume of JRME that represents some of the most current efforts to uncover the issues of identity and power that shape the learning of mathematics in schools around the world.