Francis (Skip) Fennell

  • 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

    Francis (Skip) Fennell

    Westminster, Maryland

    Mathematics is universal, and it has taken Skip Fennell around the world. He has traveled to more than 40 states, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates to provide professional development and consulting support to schools, school districts, state departments of education, colleges, and universities. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Fennell to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, where he helped bring attention to important issues in the field-and to NCTM. Fennell also testified before Congress in 2007 and 2008. Yet, this tireless math advocate has a reserve of energy for fun as well: He has run nine marathons and more than 25 half marathons.  

    President of NCTM from 2006-2008 and a founding member of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), Fennell has dedicated his professional life since 1966 to mathematics education, with an emphasis on the elementary and middle grades.

    One project that has had a tremendous impact on elementary mathematics specialists regionally and nationally is his work with the Brookhill Foundation's Elementary Mathematics Specialists and Teacher Leaders Project.

    Fennell spent his first decade as an elementary teacher and principal. In 1976 he moved to Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in Westminster, Maryland, where he has taught and influenced thousands of budding educators in the years since. Today you can still find him at McDaniel, where he's the L. Stanley Bowlsbey Professor of Education and Graduate and Professional Studies.

    Early in his tenure as NCTM president, Fennell shepherded NCTM's influential Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence through its final stages. This groundbreaking publication "gave NCTM the means to shape larger policy decisions…," says one nominator. "His extraordinary blend of authority, reasonableness, collegiality, and leadership has not only served NCTM well, but it has altered the broader education landscape in a manner perhaps never before achieved by the voice of mathematics education." 
    Letter after letter from those supporting Fennell's nomination for this award address his gift to connect with people. "Skip is one of those leaders who comes along once in a generation…. He has an uncanny ability to bring out the best in all of us," writes a colleague. 

    Honors already bestowed on Fennell include the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Mathematics Educator of the Year (1990), Western Maryland College's Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award (1997), Carnegie Foundation's CASE Professor of the Year-Maryland (1997), the NCSM Glenn Gilbert National Leadership Award (2000), and AMTE Excellence in Service in Mathematics Teacher Education (2010). Fennell was a writer for Principles and Standards for School Mathematics,Curriculum Focal Points, and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics . He's also the author of dozens of articles and books and is the coauthor of three books coming out this year.