About The Max Sobel Award:
Each year the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey, AMTNJ, presents the prestigious Max Sobel Award for Outstanding Service and Leadership in Mathematics Education. The Award is named after the first person to receive an AMTNJ Award for Outstanding Service and Leadership in Mathematics Education, Dr. Max Sobel.
During the course of his 50-year career, Max served the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, NCTM, as president from 1980 to 1982 and as a member of the Board of Directors. He contributed to the work of numerous other mathematics organizations, including the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey (as president), the Mathematical Association of America (as chair of the New Jersey section), the National Science Foundation, and the Educational Testing Service.
Bill began his mathematical education career in 1966 as a teacher at Haddonfield Memorial High School in Haddonfield, New Jersey. From September 1971 to June 1976, Bill served a mathematics department chair with a reduced teaching load. Then from July 1980 to June 1994, Bill served as Haddonfield’s K-12 Supervisor of Computers and Mathematics. Then from July 1994 until June 1997, Bill became the District’s K-12 Supervisor of Mathematics. During Bill’s role as Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction, serving from July 1997 to June 2002, he taught two classes for a teacher on maternity leave in 2000 and taught his own class during the 2001-2002 school year, and worked in classes with a teacher part time through the 1998-1999 school year. Upon retiring from Haddonfield Public Schools in 2002, Bill became an educational consultant. As a consultant, he served as an educational coach to teachers, leader of committees, and was a workshop presenter. Beginning in September 2019, Bill became an adjunct professor at Rowan University and in 2021 was an adjunct professor for Raritan Valley Community College.
Bill’s passion for the best practices in teaching and learning mathematics education went way beyond classrooms and buildings. He had a commitment to serve his mathematics education community. From 1992-1996 and from 2000-2001, Bill facilitated, co-coordinated or helped write the New Jersey Mathematics Standards. Prior to the release of the New Jersey Mathematics Standards, the New Jersey Department of Education conducted feedback sessions and scheduled several sites throughout New Jersey. One teacher at one of those feedback sessions in North Jersey, recalls asking Bill to explain the phrase, . . . underpinnings of calculus… in the preliminary document. The teacher said he explained that by teaching arithmetic and geometric sequences teachers were teaching the underpinnings of the concept of a limit. It was ultimately removed from the final version of the standards document that year.
In the 1990’s there was a call for changes in what should be taught in mathematics classes and how it should be taught. The result was the New Jersey Mathematics Curricular Framework, which Bill helped write. The goal of the New Jersey Mathematics Curricular Framework was as follows: “To enable all New Jersey’s children to move into the twenty-first century with the mathematical skills, understandings, and attitudes that they will need to be successful in their careers and daily lives.”
Even back in the 90’s, Bill knew students were all different. As a supervisor, Bill was ahead of his time. Equitable practices are being emphasized now, but he practiced them back in the 1990’s. Bill felt that every student needed to be reached and taught mathematics. One of Bill’s teachers who worked for him at Haddonfield recalls Bill finding spaces within the building to allow students and teachers to work beyond the classroom. One of Bill’s teachers said that Bill insisted that his teachers differentiate instruction, including using technology. Of course, using graphing calculators was considered using technology back in the 1990’s. During the era, Bill encouraged his teachers to use manipulatives, including an onion to describe the shell method in a calculus class and often used manipulatives in his class.
As an adjunct professor at Rowan University and Raritan Valley Community College, Bill taught mathematics classes. At Raritan Community College, Bill teaches math classes in the RISE Program, Returning & Incarcerated Student Education. At Rowan University, Bill teaches math and education classes. He was a grant facilitator for Bridgeton and Millville Schools. While at Rowan, he served as a member of the Math Steering Committee, annotated syllabi, coordinated Structures I, assisted with Structures I during summer orientations, and observed adjunct professors.
During Bill’s over 50-year career in mathematics education, he touched the lives of many K-12 teachers. Bill’s over fifty years of commitment and passion for students and teachers exemplifies the work that Max Sobel wanted recipients of his award to have.