Barbara Reys is best known for her ability to identify an area of need and then organize and lead a team of professionals to take on that work. She is a true problem solver.
Her pioneering efforts in conjunction with her husband (Robert Reys, 2008 NCTM Lifetime Achievement Awardee) led to a reconceptualization of what it means to estimate and do mental math and have come to define the importance of these skills under the broader notion of number sense.
Her early experience teaching mathematics at every grade, from grade 1 to high school, grounded her later work in teacher preparation and instilled in her a great respect for the hard work of classroom teachers.
Reys's involvement in NCTM at the national level began in her early years of teaching, first as a member of the Educational Materials Committee and then later as a member or chair of three Yearbook Editorial Panels. She was the founder of the University of Missouri Mathematics Teacher Organization (UM2TO)-one of the first NCTM Student Affiliates. She and her husband also founded the STaR Program-an early-career induction program for mathematics educators working in higher education. On behalf of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, one of NCTMs largest affiliates, she chaired the commission that developed standards for the preparation of elementary mathematics specialists and created a program in Missouri to certify EMS professionals on the basis of these standards.
Much of Reys's scholarship and service have focused on “standards-based” curriculum reform-in unison with NCTM-and she led efforts to help schools implement innovative curriculum materials that emphasized sense making and problem solving. She led the grades 3-5 writing group for NCTM's landmark publication Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. Over the next 15 years she coordinated efforts to study and disseminate information about curriculum standards, including advocating for a common set of standards across states. She directed the highly successful Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum, which awarded more than 50 doctoral degrees to students with expertise in curriculum development and research.