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Awtry Chosen College Math Teacher of the Year

Released: 12/04/2008

Dr. Tommy Awtry, chairman of the Department of Mathematics and Physical Sciences at LSU at Alexandria, has been selected 2008 Outstanding College Math Teacher of the Year by the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics.

Awtry, who emphasizes “connecting math to the everyday world” in the classroom, is heavily involved with LaSIP (Louisiana Systemic Initiatives Program), which stimulates math and science education. He is a 10-time winner of competitive LaSIP grants that allow him to “coach” approximately 40 elementary school teachers from several Central Louisiana parishes each summer in math teaching techniques.

Jennifer Pastor, an award-winning fourth-grade teacher at J.I. Barron Elementary School in Pineville, was one of Awtry’s LaSIP students. “The training and support I received from Dr. Awtry saved my life as a teacher,” she said. “He is an exceptional communicator and gifted teacher. He motivates and energizes even seasoned teachers, and he taught me how to meet challenges I never thought were possible.”

Pastor was recently chosen Outstanding Elementary Math Teacher of the Year and was nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics.

Awtry, whose career at LSUA began in 1995, has particular interest in concept development for elementary and middle school grades. “Learning should be active, not passive,” he says. “Math is much more than memorizing formulas. We have found that we can lead students on a lasting guided discovery by promoting concepts over procedures and the use of manipulative materials.”

Dr. Tom Armstrong, LSUA vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, said Awtry’s “steadfast commitment to improving the teaching of mathematics makes him most deserving of this award. He is an exemplary teacher of mathematics.”

Awtry recently won a $97,000 grant from the Enhancement Fund administered by the Louisiana Board of Regents. The money will be used for technological support in the Department of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. Awtry has been chairman of the department since 2003.

Awtry frequently presents at state, regional and national conferences, and he regularly contributes to scholarly journals. He is active in several professional organizations and has served on key statewide math education task forces. Twice Awtry has been holder of endowed professorships at LSUA, the Huie-Dellmon Trust Professorship in Science and the F. Hugh Coughlin Professorship. He earned an undergraduate degree from LSU-Shreveport and a master’s and doctorate from LSU.