Monterey may be a relatively small town, but that doesn’t mean they are lacking in big talent. A local math teacher is winging his way to the Big Apple today to collect a prestigious teaching award for his work at the Monterey Bay Academy.
Matt Engle, a local math teacher, has been tapped to receive this year’s esteemed Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching. The award also brings with it a cash prize in the amount of $25,000. Engle won the award for his work using the shadows of shapes to explore mathematical concepts such as ratio, dilation, and proportionality in geometric shapes.
Specifically, Engle is being awarded the prize for his lesson entitled “Bringing Similarity Into Light: Experiencing Similarity and Dilations Using Shadows.” More accurately, however, it is not a single lesson that brought Engle the venerable prize, but rather the enthusiasm he shows for finding new ways of educating young minds.
In Engle’s estimation, the true value of math is not whether you will ever use a specific formula or equation in everyday life. Instead, he feels that mathematics teaches you a new way of looking at things or of working through various types of problems. This is helpful for students who frequently question whether they will ever use what they are learning for real-world applications.
This is the 6th year the Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching has been handed out by MoMath. Named in honor of Saul Rosenthal, the president of investment firm Oxford Lane Capital Corp., Rosenthal has long been a supporter and champion of math education.
Rosenthal said that as both a student and occasionally as a guest teacher, he always enjoyed the “aha” moment when a complex problem or difficult concept suddenly became crystal clear. As both a lover of mathematics and a champion of mathematics education, Rosenthal was delighted to work with the MoMath foundation to create this prize. He himself is honored to be able to recognize teachers who work hard to truly inspire their students through educational innovation.
The award was originally established as a means of recognizing and promoting distinguished educators that devise the best means of making math a more hands-on experience. This may be particularly important as other nations continue to surpass the US in fields such as science and math. Prizes and awards such as this can hopefully help inspire teachers to go above and beyond to make math more accessible to all and help students discover mathematical concepts in new and exciting ways.
The second-place prize, which also comes with a $5,000 cash award – is also set to be bestowed upon another California teacher. Heather Danforth-Clayson is a middle school teacher who teaches at the Helios School in Sunnyvale. Her lesson was entitled “Derangements and Random Rearrangements: An Exploration of Probability.”
Rosenthal will be awarding the prizes in a ceremony scheduled for Wednesday. Appropriately enough, the ceremony is to be held at the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City.