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MET Legacy Series: Kenneth B. Cummins

NCTM’s Mathematics Education Trust (MET) relies on contributions from Council members and other individuals, Affiliates, and corporations. Gifts to the Kenneth B. Cummins Fund help support Partner Affiliates of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in their efforts to provide better service to mathematics teachers and promote innovative projects that make NCTM and its Affiliates more visible to the public. A Kenneth B. Cummins Grant of up to $3,000 is awarded to a Partner Affiliate in good standing to initiate professional activities or programs that might otherwise not be possible. In addition to the Partner Affiliate Grant, two other grants supported by NCTM are available to Affiliates: Associate Affiliate Grants (up to $2,000) and the Student Affiliate Grants (up to $1,500).

Cummins PhotoKenneth B. Cummins: A Dedicated Educator and Polymath 
Kenneth Cummins made many contributions to mathematics education during his 60 years of teaching. He loved teaching and was committed to helping his students learn.

Kenneth Burdette Cummins was born on July 27, 1911, and grew up in the village of New Washington, Ohio, near the town of Bucyrus, Ohio. Following his graduation from Ohio Wesleyan University with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1933, he taught mathematics, science, Latin, and music at Sulfur Springs and New Washington High Schools for 24 years. He completed a master’s degree in mathematics under Frank Ogg at Bowling Green State University in 1939, and earned his Ph.D. in mathematics and mathematics education in 1958, from Ohio State University. Cummins left secondary education in 1957 to teach mathematics at Kent State University (KSU) where he became chairman of the mathematics department. Cummins always carried a full schedule of undergraduate classes and served on doctoral committees in both the math department and the Graduate School of Education.

At KSU, Cummins was most widely known for his stewardship of more than thirty National Science Foundation grants, awarded to him to conduct summer and academic-year institutes for high school mathematics teachers. These institutes at KSU served over 1,000 teachers from across the country. Cummins is remembered as a humble, charismatic, generous teacher and mentor. 

In 1970, Cummins coauthored a textbook with his PhD advisor, Harold Fawcett, titled The Teaching of Mathematics from Counting to Calculus, which became a widely used text for teaching mathematics in grades 7–12. He spoke at many conferences and conducted workshops on mathematics teaching, including more than 100 presentations at the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM) and NCTM. He was a frequent featured speaker at meetings of the Ohio Section of the Mathematical Association of America and at annual statistics and mathematics symposia at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. 

In the summers, Cummins directed the New Washington Band in Saturday night concerts on the village square. In fact, he directed with his right hand and played trumpet with his left!  He organized the New Washington Community Chorus and directed performances of Handel's Messiah, as well as other cantatas and oratorios. He was known to be inclusive of volunteer musicians and went to great lengths to secure an instrument if needed, as well as teaching new players. His attitude in his musical endeavors was the same as in the classroom—no question was too trivial.    

He loved to study and learn mathematics in various languages and ways. During the last month of his life, he was studying advanced geometry in German.

Cummins received many awards and was honored as the first recipient of the OCTM Christofferson-Fawcett Award (1981). The award recognized his 60 years of service in mathematics to the state of Ohio. He was twice awarded the KSU Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award and also received the KSU President's Medal for service to the university.

Kenneth B. Cummins died in 1998 at the age of 87.  

McCoy Cummins RecipientRecent Grant Recipient  
Ann McCoy submitted the proposal on behalf of KCATM. The most recent recipient of the Kenneth B. Cummins Grant is the Kansas City Area Teachers of Mathematics (KCATM) (Missouri).  

KCATM is using grant funds to implement the Signature Focus Series—two professional development workshops for Kansas City area high school mathematics teachers. The series is designed to address NCTM’s foundational priorities of providing professional development that helps ensure that all students receive mathematics education of the highest quality. The workshops will also acquaint high school mathematics teachers with NCTM’s call for a reasoning and sense-making emphasis in high school. Participating teachers will receive NCTM's Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense-Making as well as one of the content specific books from the Focus in High School Mathematics series. The books were provided with funds received through the Cummins Grant. 


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