Mark Driscoll, a mathematics leader known for his time at the Educational Development Center (EDC) in Waltham, Massachusetts, passed away on October 3, 2022. Mark was an editor of the Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership and NCSM Ross Taylor/Glenn Gilbert National Leadership Awardee for 2010. I remember Mark’s work best in his books, Fostering Algebraic Thinking and Fostering Geometric Thinking where his groundbreaking algebraic habits of mind revolutionized how we teach algebra to children.
I still think of myself as a new mathematics leader so I often reach out to NCSM’s past presidents for advice and wisdom. I asked them to share some of their recollections of Mark’s work and the depth of his influence on other mathematics leaders and our field in general.
Mark Driscoll was the quiet voicer in the meeting rooms of NCSM and NCTM over the decades, but the strong voice via his publications and contributions to learning and teaching. He enriched our views and changed them through his unique work and insight. We are grateful for his diligent leadership.Shirley Frye (NCSM President 1981-1983)
Mark Driscoll was a kind and gentle giant with a deeply inquisitive mind. We met way back in 1983 when I was asked to join Mark’s site visit teams as part of the Study of Exemplary Math Programs when Mark was at the Network, before he found his home at EDC.
Our 40-year friendship – and periodic collaborations – was bonded during long and invigorating days in Durham, NC at the amazing North Carolina School of Science and Math and in Broward County, FL at the equally amazing Coral Springs High School. I must have met Mark’s high standards, because he unleashed me to do three other site visits alone.
The final report and summary of our findings across 12 sites was that in every one of these very impressive high school and middle school math departments, the singular condition was the incredible degree of professional collaboration and the shared belief that the math teachers owned the curriculum.
The whole experience and my collaboration with Mark had a major impact specifically on my perspectives of change and improvement and more generally, on my professional life.Steve Leinwand (NCSM President 1995-1997)
I didn’t know Mark well but I certainly knew of his work at EDC. He was the journal editor during Kay Gilliland’s presidency and really revived the journal! I asked him to continue on when I became president—fearing he would say no because it is a tough job and who would want to do it for 4 years AND who could do as good a job as Mark. I was so pleased when he said yes. He certainly left his legacy with NCSM doing that important work. I also was able to get to know him better during that time. He was an unassuming, quiet giant in the world of mathematics education.Linda Gojak (NCSM President 2005-2007)
As I read my predecessor’s stories, I was particularly struck by how Mark’s lasting influence seems to be in his written work, through his books and his time spent as NCSM’s Journal Editor. It’s important that we, as mathematics leaders, tell our stories in a variety of platforms and media. Oral traditions like a conference presentation, video presentations and clips, and written publications are all powerful ways of sharing our stories. I am thankful for Mark Driscoll’s legacy of written work that continues to influence my own work with teachers.
What a mind! What a gentleman! What an influence!