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Remembering Susan Craig

Dr. Rebecca Gammill 
Publications Editor

Editor's Foreword

It is with great sadness that we inform our readers that Susan Craig, V.P. of Membership Services, passed away on December 29th, 2021.  Susan serviced this community with love, dedication, optimism, and wisdom. As a member of GCTM for 47 years, Susan was passionate about the human and professional resources that our organization provides, and within each issue of Reflections that I have edited, Susan persisted in reminding all of us how much GCTM has to offer. Whenever she spoke of teaching, children, or her experiences at our conferences (even decades ago), a sweet, sincere smile would always reveal what her profession, her students, and this community means to her.

Susan had a long career in teaching that most would admire.  She earned Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Specialist Degrees in Mathematics Education from Augusta College. She retired after 41 years of service teaching Mathematics at Lucy Laney High, Glenn Hills High, and Davidson Fine Arts Schools. Her teaching career included several years as a Mathematics curriculum planner for the Richmond County Board of Education. During her career, she was named 1986 Richmond County Teacher of the Year. She was awarded the Georgia 1985 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education, presented to her by President Ronald Reagan at a luncheon in the White House Rose Garden.

In 2019, I interviewed Susan Craig for GCTM’s 60th Anniversary Issue. At that time, she had been with GCTM for 45 years.  In the place of our membership report, I am rerunning this article in her honor to spotlight her experience, wisdom, and history that she brought to our Executive Board.  We will miss our friend.

An Interview with Susan Craig

On becoming a member, getting involved, and GMC.

I guess my first involvement in GCTM was when our Mathematics Coordinator in Richmond County, Penny Vaughn, brought several of us to GMC in 1978. My advisor and professor at Augusta College, Dr. Bill Bompart, was active and insisted we join NCTM and encouraged us to join GCTM when we were about graduate. 

He later was GCTM President. During that time, he asked me to be Secretary of our region. That was the first introduction of regional groups. At that point, I began attending the conference at Rock Eagle each year. We also had a couple of small regional sessions on a Saturday at Augusta College. The GMC was a very rewarding experience. Our speakers, as they are now, were the big names and authors of textbooks and materials, officers in NCTM and GCTM, and statewide teachers renowned for their excellence in the classroom and active leaders in GCTM. My oldest memory was hearing Mary Dolciani speak. If you get your hands on an old Houghton Mifflin red or yellow Algebra text, [you will see that] she was the primary author and a bang-up speaker. there were many others. I was hooked at that point because I was able to go back to my classroom, still a novice teacher but loaded with ideas and materials I could use that first day back.

At that point, I was not involved at the state level, but it was important to me to continue to be a member, attend the opportunities it afforded me. I can remember when Dr. Bompart was later Executive director of GCTM, he was getting the membership on the computer and being in his office working on his Apple II+ and had a question. Never realized that was my intro to membership work...in the future. Later I was the East Central Representative. We worked to create a Collaborative in our area, modeled after the Columbus regional Collaborative, with the support of The Augusta College Mathematics Department professors. After a while, I became the Vice President for Regional Services working with all the Regional Reps. When Dr. Larry Elbrink stepped down as Executive Director of GCTM, I took on the membership task. So I have been Membership Director for about 10 years. Over the years I have served on the Conference Program Committee, Election Committee, the Summer Academy Committee. a few times. I have presented at GMC a few times.

In years past, there was always a pre-meeting of GMC for the college professors, I think. and there were sessions at each time on the program devoted to technical and college-level teachers. I think the very first GMC meetings were small groups, maybe 20 or so, in the Atlanta area, but for the most part it has always been at [Georgia Mathematics Conference at] ROCK EAGLE.


I think just being at Rock Eagle brings many memories of the sessions, the presenters, the many wonderful people I have met and been friends with over these many years. One of my closest friends I met at Rock Eagle that very first conference.  The conference has always had a strong program for teachers. That continues today. The facilities are a major improvement from years ago. The ability to use up-to-date technology has been a big plus from the days of overhead projectors. The exhibits were always a bustling place with lots of chances to purchase new materials and see the newest texts, etc. The textbook industry is vastly different now, so I think the exhibits seem very quiet compared to the past. In the past, we had a chance for attendees to meet briefly in regional groups to hear of activities in their areas and statewide. We do now have occasional chances to hear from those in administration at the state level in a full session, and even candidates for State Superintendent when that occurs. The large gathering places offer a chance to meet new teachers, exchange ideas, renew friendships. The lodging facilities are vastly better. Our leaders attend the National NCTM meetings and leadership forums to bring in the best speakers and leaders to share with us. GMC continues with excellence and new ideas.

Susan’s background in mathematics education.

I always wanted to be a mathematics teacher. I had excellent role models and encouragement. I taught my entire 40-year career in Richmond County Schools. For eight years I served as a Coordinator of Mathematics and Administrative Technology. I enjoyed working with the teachers and then chose to return to the classroom for the last half of my teaching life. In those years I taught every mathematics course in the middle and high school curriculum. I particularly loved teaching 8th-grade algebra students and Advanced Math and Trig and AP Calculus. I served as Department Chair in the 2 schools in which I taught. I retired in 2004 but taught part-time until 2011.

GCTM involvement even in retirement. 

[GCTM] has been such a magnificent impact on me...my teaching and my personal life... that now I have the time, to do the legwork, make the contacts, that many teachers don't have time to offer. I may be retired, but I will be a mathematics teacher forever. I have loved my affiliation and work with GCTM and love being able to help.

It made me a better teacher! If I were to go to my files right now and pull one, it would most likely be an activity I saw or learned at the conference or from one of the friends and colleagues I have met there. We have such a huge state, but small when you consider the contacts and fellow teachers from every corner. GCTM made me confident in the way I taught, in the content I taught, and gave me the support I needed to know how to inform parents and others, that we must teach the children and it may not be the way they were taught as children - including administrators and principals!

Technological impacts on a mathematical landscape.

I really think that over time technology has had a negative effect. Positively, it allows us to have immediate contact. But we get barraged with so much email, it gets lost in the mix. Being able to join and renew GCTM membership online is a wonderful feature, but something about having that membership form in your hand or your mail seemed to be more effective. We had larger membership numbers before the use of widespread technology. But we are not alone in that. NCTM membership numbers are down also. I think the number of teachers who remain as career teachers is lower and so the commitment to mathematics teaching and professional membership in NCTM or GCTM just isn't what it was 10, 20 years ago. That is due to lots of factors. When I began working with Membership, there were about 2500 GCTM members. Today there are about 1200. This is very frustrating to me personally. Maybe teachers feel they can get the information and encouragement GCTM provides online. For my entire membership in GCTM, I paid my membership fee. It has risen from $15 annually to a huge $20 annually.


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