For her work to empower secondary math teachers, DSBN math consultant Liisa Suurtamm is the recipient of the 2019 Ontario Association for Math Education (OAME) Award for Leadership in Mathematics Education. The award recognizes an educator who has demonstrated leadership by contributing in a significant way to the development of mathematics educators and the enhancement of mathematics education in Ontario through innovation and/or research related activities.
“Math has been an important area of focus for the DSBN,” said Helen McGregor, Superintendent of Curriculum and Student Achievement (9-12). “Liisa’s leadership in this area has been invaluable. She always grounds her work in research and is a tremendous resource for secondary teachers and schools.”
As math consultant, Suurtamm is responsible for supporting professional learning for math teachers. This includes setting the direction and focus for the math learning on the Board-wide PD day in the fall, facilitating learning teams at board and school level, planning and facilitating the bi-monthly program leaders’ meetings and providing one-on-one support in classrooms.
Suurtamm’s colleagues Elizabeth Pattison, an Instructional Coach, and Braden Coles, a teacher at Stamford Collegiate in Niagara Falls, nominated her for the award. Pattison wrote that through Suurtamm’s work with math program leaders, she “promotes their leadership by empowering them to make decisions regarding their own math teams, having them regularly review their roles, and introducing them to new ideas and current research.”
Suurtamm said her philosophy is that everyone in the system can demonstrate leadership. “All teachers have strengths that they can use to support students. Working with them, I try to help them see their strengths so they can be most effective in their roles,” said Suurtamm.
Suurtamm has worked with the DSBN for nearly 20 years. In addition to her role as math consultant, she has also taught at Eastdale Secondary in Welland and Westlane Secondary in Niagara Falls.