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CSU-Pueblo math professor earns distinguished teacher award

Release Date: May 10, 2015

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo

(719) 549-2810

CSU-Pueblo math professor earns distinguished teacher award

PUEBLO - Colorado State University-Pueblo Mathematics Professor Janet Heine Barnett was awarded the Burton W. Jones Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics by the Rocky Mountain Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) in April.

Named in honor of Burton W. Jones, a lifelong advocate of excellence in teaching and a strong supporter of the members and programs of the MAA, this annual award recognizes mathematics teachers who are extraordinarily successful teachers of mathematics at the post-secondary level. Awardees are outstanding teachers who foster excitement about mathematics in their students, and who are widely recognized both within and beyond their own institution.

Barnett was nominated for the award by CSU-Pueblo Mathematics Professor Frank Zizza. In his nomination materials, Zizza remarked that he has "been involved in faculty annual performance reviews and promotion and tenure for the past 15 years at two different universities. Dr. Barnett's teaching evaluations are in the top one percent of my experience. It is simultaneously inspiring and profoundly humbling to read her students' evaluations [of her teaching]."

A native of Pueblo, Barnett joined the mathematics faculty at CSU-Pueblo in 1990. Her scholarly work focuses on the history of mathematics, which she integrates into her teaching through the use of innovative curricular materials based on original source writings by important mathematicians. Throughout her tenure at CSU-Pueblo, she has also sought to improve the quality of mathematics education in the Pueblo region by recruiting, training and mentoring K-12 teachers of mathematics. She currently leads the CSU-Pueblo Noyce Scholars Program, a five year $1.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation which is providing significant scholarships and academic programs for qualified individuals to earn a teaching credential and commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts. As part of its Summer Internship Program for prospective teachers, the Noyce Scholars program also offers a free, two-week Summer Math Academy for students in Pueblo County who will be entering grades 7-10.

A former student and graduate of the Noyce Scholars Program, current Pueblo County High School Teacher Zack Koshak described Barnett's knowledge and passion for mathematics in his letter of recommendation for the award as one part of what makes being in her classrooms an amazing experience.

"Her high expectations force all of her students to work their hardest and give their all while in her classroom," Koshak said. "I speak for a number of my classmates, that when you have Dr. Barnett as a professor, you expect to be challenged and will work extremely hard. By the end of the semester, there is no doubt that you have been given the best education possible."

Barnett said that providing students with strong learning support is critical to helping them meet the challenges that she poses for them in her classes. Listening to how each student thinks about mathematics and finding ways to connect to their way of understanding also contributes to her students' positive reactions.

In her acceptance speech for the award, Barnett spoke about how blessed she feels to have ended up in a career that lets her do two things she loves, teaching and mathematics, on a daily basis. She also thanked the members of the Rocky Mountain Section for their personal and professional support throughout her teaching career.

"It is such a privilege to be chosen for this award by individuals that you respect and admire, especially since I know how many excellent teachers there are in our community," she said.

In recognition of her achievements, Barnett also has received the CSU-Pueblo Outstanding Faculty Award in the College of Science and Mathematics in 2002 and again in 2010, and the University-wide Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching at CSU-Pueblo in 2006 and again in 2013.

In addition to being honored with a plaque and a small honorarium for the Burton W. Jones Award, Barnett receives an invitation to deliver the opening lecture at the Rocky Mountain Section Meeting in April 2016 and will become the Section's 2016 nominee for the Association's National Distinguished Teaching Award. She will also be recognized at the Twentieth Colorado Mathematics Awards Reception and Ceremony in Denver on May 12.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.

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