Tam Math Teachers Receive Leadership Award

By Cam Vernali

David Wetzel and Susan Proksch are part of a group that received a district-wide leadership award. The Chris Anderson Instructional Leadership Award is an award given out yearly to a program, group or individual in the Tamalpais Union District. It is given out based on demonstrating “exceptional leadership of, and commitment to, strengthening the instructional program or services offered to district students,” according to the official email about the award.

This year, it was awarded to the Tamalpais Union High School District Math Task Force, which includes Susan Proksch, David Wetzel, Susanna Nash, Judy King, Aaron Simon, Jessica Crabtree, Beth de Carion, and Jennifer Noland. Proksch and Wetzel are from the Tam mathematics department, Nash and King are from the Drake mathematics department, Simon and Crabtree are from the Redwood mathematics department, de Carion is a special education teacher who co-teaches math at Redwood currently, and Noland is from the Alternative School (i.e. Tamiscal) mathematics department.

“I was honored to be part of the group. The system superintendent Tara Taupier organized who would be in the group and she picked amazing people, one teacher leader from every school plus a math teacher from every school,” Wetzel said. “We worked together to attack some pretty important issues aligning what we are going to teach in math for the entire district, so it is really productive.”

“I was the one who suggested the creation of the math task force in order to address math programming,” Taupier said. “I think teachers have great knowledge of how to best serve students in their area of expertise, therefore having math teachers develop the math program made the most sense to me. Furthermore, I believe the teachers of this task force were exceptionally well together, having important conversations, reviewing data and coming to agreement.”

Chris Anderson, who the award is named after, was a teacher and assistant superintendent of Educational Services for the Tamalpais Union High School district. The recipients of the award are chosen by a committee made up of the superintendent, a board member, and a representative from educational services.

The Math Task Force was created this year in response to district math issues. “We’ve been going through some pretty serious changes in the math department, site-wide and district-wide, for the past few years. And at the beginning of this year, we had a deadline and we actually had to get things done,” Wetzel said. “So the [Math Task Force] was created to get those things accomplished.”

One of the things the Math Task Force has developed this year is a math program which consists of three pathways students can take in the district in order to meet the district’s graduation requirement, as well as receiving a UC/CSU a-g eligibility in math.

This is the first time in the history of the award that it has been given out to a group and not just an individual. The last time a Tam teacher received the Chris Anderson Instructional Leadership Award was Mike Levinson in 2009. Levinson was the second Tam teacher to win the award, after Jane Hall in 2006.

“I think the award is very, very appropriate because those teachers worked really hard and really fast to align the entire math curriculum for the district,” Wetzel said.

“I believe the award was very fitting,” Taupier said. “The Chris Anderson Award is specific to instructional leadership and this group of teachers demonstrated all of the qualities that demonstrate such leadership. Also, Chris Anderson was a math teacher before becoming an administrator so that felt particularly fitting.”