2021, Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics Kelly Mercer

Clackamas Community College Kelly is a remarkable and committed instructor of mathematics at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, OR. She has also worked at Clark College in Vancouver, WA, and at Portland Community College in Portland, OR. At each of these appointments, Kelly invested time not only in improving teaching and learning in her classroom, but also in improving educational outcomes for all students by working on both departmental and institutional committees. Kelly attended graduate school at Portland State University to earn a Master's of Science in Teaching of Mathematics with the goal of teaching at a community college. Early in her academic program, Kelly reached out to community college mathematics faculty in the Portland State University mathematics education community and became active in both the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) and its Oregon affiliate (ORMATYC). During this time, Kelly observed community college classes and accompanied Ann on weekly site visits to observe an inquiry-oriented community college transition-to-proof course. The community college mathematics department chairs she met while she was still a graduate student were eager to hire Kelly as soon as she had enough graduate credits in mathematics to meet the qualifications for teaching part time. Kelly is that impressive. Kelly would say that she teaches students, not mathematics. She cares for students and her students know this about her. Throughout her teaching career, students never shied away from asking Kelly for help. She recognizes that students have a diversity of educational goals that bring them to community college mathematics classrooms; Kelly does not assume that all students are moving into academic careers and she meets them where they are on their life's trajectory. When thinking about the content of courses she teaches, Kelly thinks about how students learn the content rather than presenting content as it might be structured by the discipline or in a textbook. Ann collaborated with Kelly on the design, enactment and revision of mathematical tasks that served to support student understanding of particular concepts and strategies. We collaborated on task design for a course that many adult returning students placed into because they had either been away from school for many years or had never had the opportunity to learn the mathematical concepts and strategies explored in the course, as well as for the first college-level mathematics course many students take. We relied on mathematics education research to help us better understand how students come to understand the concepts and strategies that were central to the tasks we designed. Kelly continues to leverage educational research as part of her practice as an educator. At the time Kelly started at Clackamas Community College, a statewide working group was convened to address the need for a quantitative and statistical reasoning pathway. As a first-year hire, Kelly took a leadership role on this project and collaborated on developing a vision for what these courses would look like. The state approved an alternative to intermediate algebra as a pre-requisite for college-level math and the quantitative and statistical reasoning pathway was adopted by community colleges statewide. After a failed departmental search for curricular materials for this new pathway, Kelly received a grant to develop, implement and revise an open educational resource (OER) for the courses on the quantitative and statistical reasoning pathway. Unlike other OERs being developed at the time which were analogous to existing propriety texts, the OER Kelly developed was thematic and the curriculum materials were grounded on what Kelly knows about her students and their learning. The OER that Kelly spearheaded at Clackamas Community College has been adopted by many Oregon community colleges offering courses on the quantitative and statistical reasoning pathway. Finally, Kelly is an amazing colleague. If you do not have the privilege of working with her, you envy those who do. Kelly is as warm, thoughtful and outgoing with colleagues as she is with her students. In addition to being a leader within the mathematics department, she has been invaluable in communicating to faculty in other departments the importance of quantitative literacy. This was crucial work to the successful development and implementation of the statistics pathway, as every department at Clackamas Community College was asked to reconsider the mathematics requirements for their programs. Kelly's confident, yet kind approach in teaching extended to all staff, as she engaged, and continues to engage other departments in conversations about mathematics and what students are learning to support their programs.
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