MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University professor Peggy House has received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics Education. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics recognized House at the NCTM annual meeting and exposition April 8 in Anaheim, Calif.
She has served NCTM as a member of the board of directors and, perhaps most notably, as general editor for the best-selling Navigations book series. The collection will include 35 books and companion CDs. It is designed to give teachers and others ideas, activities and materials to support the implementation of Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. She has also worked with NASA to develop the recently released Mission Mathematics: Linking Aerospace and the NCTM Standards.
House majored in both mathematics and physics at Alverno College in Milwaukee, where she received her bachelor's degree. She went on to teach classes in those disciplines as well as the physical sciences at Pope John XXIII Central High School in Elgin, Neb. While holding the position, House gradually worked toward her master's degree from Kansas State University.
"I loved teaching at the high school, but I originally had my heart set on being a college professor," House said. "I received a National Science Foundation grant to go to a summer institute at K-State that would help me implement a new physics curriculum. I left that experience feeling very torn. Being on the college campus reaffirmed my desire to teach at the college level, but I loved the job I had at the high school. My superintendent in Nebraska said something that helped guide me to a decision. He said, 'You can make a difference in the lives of 200 kids here, or you can educate 200 future teachers to each make a difference in the lives of 200 kids.' That helped seal it for me."
After completing a doctorate at K-State, House taught at the University of Minnesota, where she became active with the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics, serving as vice president. She was hired by NMU in 1993 to direct The Glenn T. Seaborg Center for Teaching and Learning Science and Mathematics.
"I had an opportunity to meet Dr. Seaborg when I served on the Seaborg National Advisory Board, and I greatly admired him," House said. "And because I loved both physics and math, I thought it would be a good fit. There's such a natural connection between the two. I always looked for places to do both because I don't like to separate them. Mathematics is not just some abstract subject with a lot of equations. It has so many applications in most everything we do."
House was director of the center for a decade before joining the NMU mathematics faculty in 2003. In addition to her service to NCTM and NASA, she is a member and former president of the School Science and Mathematical Association.House said she is honored to be one of just two individuals receiving this year's Lifetime Achievement Award. It's not just that it was presented by an organization comprised of 100,000 national and international members, or that past recipients are individuals for whom House has a great deal of respect and admiration. Perhaps even sweeter is the fact that several former students nominated House, noting that she has had long-lasting, positive effects on their careers by encouraging them to participate in programs or present at meetings and conferences. House said she has made a deliberate effort to include students in her endeavors throughout her career.