For more than six decades, the national and international mathematics education community has felt the strong presence of Margaret J. (Peg) Kenney. She was an outstanding teacher, a strong leader for many professional organizations, a mentor for hundreds of classroom teachers, and an advocate for including discrete mathematics in the mathematics curriculum. The summer discrete mathematics institutes Peg facilitated were the highlight of professional development opportunities for hundreds of teachers who looked forward to working with her each year.
From the start of her academic life, Kenney was always associated with Boston College. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics at BC and her doctorate in mathematics at Boston University. She rose through the ranks of the mathematics department at BC to become a professor of mathematics. Along with Fr. Stanley Bezuszka, SJ, she led the Mathematics Institute in its efforts to provide high-quality professional development for math teachers. Kenney assisted, instructed, or served as project coordinator in nearly fifty funded programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Few other professionals can match this remarkable record.
“The clarity with which she taught was stellar,” wrote one of Kenney's former students. “All of us in the class were mathematics majors, most intending to be high school teachers. We already enjoyed doing math, but Professor Kenney made the teaching of mathematics exciting, energizing, and vitally important. She modeled for us what fine teaching should look like and how influential our teaching would be.”
Kenney was an active member of NCTM since 1970. She also served on the Board of Directors and several committees-including conference program committees, the Educational Materials Committee, and the Executive Committee. In addition, Kenney was a member and chair of the Publications Committee and an editorial Panel member of Student Math Notes. Kenney served as the 1991 Yearbook issue editor for Discrete Mathematics across the Curriculum, K-12. In addition, she was co-author of Navigating through Discrete Mathematics in Grades K-5 and Navigating through Discrete Mathematics in Grades 6-12. Kenney was also a member of the Task Force on Discrete Mathematics, was a speaker at regional conferences and annual meetings, and was a regular contributor to NCTM journals.
Peg was an internationally renown mathematician/math educator. She lectured/presented in over 440 institutes, seminars, and courses from 1957 - 2012 in Europe, Australia, Canada, and across the United States. During that time she also authored numerous publications to help teachers but always found time to support local, regional, and national mathematics organizations and associations. She was an invited panel discussion member at ICME-13 in Hamburg, Germany in July 2016. Kenney was also a major figure in mathematics leadership in Massachusetts and New England. A member of the Board of Directors of both the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Massachusetts and New England, Peg served as President of both associations. Her sessions at the annual conferences of both of these associations were extremely popular as she reconnected with many teachers, while sharing new insights into how to investigate new and non routine problems. When she saw a teacher who exhibited leadership qualities she was known to reach out and encourage that teacher to become more involved in the associations and to strive to a leadership role. She was forever tapping teachers to consider presenting at conferences and actively mentored those teachers as they ventured forth into the world of presentations. Kenney was humble and committed, and she was a good listener who motivated others to achieve their goals.
Among Kenney's many achievements were an honorary doctorate in pedagogy at Rhode Island College and the Ross Taylor/Glenn Gilbert National Leadership Award, bestowed by the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics. Kenney was a charter member of the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Mathematics Educators, inducted in 2004, and was recognized by the Council of Presidential Awardees for outstanding contributions to mathematics education. Kenney was also recipient of the Father Stanley J. Bezuszka, SJ Award for Mathematics Teaching and Learning, bestowed by the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Massachusetts, and the Father Stanley J. Bezuszka, SJ Lifetime Service Award bestowed by the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in New England.
“Her students and colleagues cherish Peg for her generous sharing of her time and talents on both personal and academic levels,” wrote one of Kenny's colleagues. “Professional organizations and groups are grateful for her dedicated work in leading and supporting in her modest and insightful manner.”
Margaret J. (Peg) Kenney died on July 5, 2016. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her.
We are grateful to many colleagues who provided photos for this video tribute of Margaret J. (Peg) Kenney. Many thanks go to: NCSM, Boston College, Kathy and David Kenney, Kim Lamb, Shirley Frye, and Anne Collins.