The purpose of the Dr. Lee Stiff Instructional Leader of Mathematics Teaching Award is to recognize and reward an individual at the district or school level who has made an outstanding and noteworthy contribution to mathematics education and NCCTM by working directly with classroom teachers to improve student learning of mathematics. This individual may support classroom teachers through coaching, professional development, demonstration lessons, and/or the development of curriculum materials and resources. Nominations may be submitted at any time.
Questions? Contact Ana Floyd, Asheboro City Schools [email@example.com].
Dr. Willis taught mathematics for over 20 years. He began his career as a middle-school math teacher at Burns Middle School, after completing his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Gardner-Webb University. He was later employed as a middle and high school math teacher at Gaston Day School, during which he also became a department chair and completed his master’s degree in mathematics education at Appalachian State University. Dr. Willis transitioned to Cleveland Community College in 2002 where he served as a full-time professor, a discipline coordinator for developmental math, and a Department Chair of Math and Foreign Languages. He later earned his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction at Liberty University.
Dr. Willis was a model in the classroom. He spent a large amount of time adjusting curriculum needs to students and utilized instructional strategies to establish solid foundations for beginning mathematics courses. His classes engaged students and filled up on a regular basis. He was known to work tirelessly, whether he was on the clock or not. He often reached out to students who may be on the cusp of passing a course in order to provide them with the full opportunity towards success.
Dr. Willis exemplified the role of a coach, mentor, and instructional leader. He regularly served as a mentor to new and seasoned part-time and full-time instructors, within his department, and even outside his department. He conducted regular workshop and conference presentations. He often used Texas Instruments technology, showing other educators how to implement this technology in their classrooms. He presented at state and regional level NCCTM events, as well as NCTM, T-Cubed, and Cengage Learning. In Fall 2019, he had his first article published in NCCTM’s Centroid. He was also a board member and editor for this publication for several years.
Betty Stack, former Dean of Arts, Sciences, and Education at Cleveland Community College stated, “It is with great pride that I recommend this gentleman for this award. The primary reason is this individual exemplifies what a quality instructor of higher education aspires to model at all times. Dr. Willis is a colleague, friend, and academic partner for the betterment of students in a society in need.” His contributions to NCCTM and to the students and teachers at Cleveland Community College have most definitely been outstanding and noteworthy.
Dr. Willis passed away in February 2023, before he could be informed of the award. His contributions to NCCTM and to mathematics education will be greatly missed.
2022 Laura Baker