Spotlight On: Norma Boakes

Norma Boakes
Boakes at the 2018 Origami Showcase.

Galloway, N.J. –  Norma Boakes, professor of Education at Stockton University, was named the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Max Sobel Award for Outstanding Service and Leadership in Mathematics Education by the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey (AMTNJ).

The award requires the recipient to have worked as an educator for at least 20 years; and have made “extraordinary contributions to the advancement of mathematics education in New Jersey.” 

In her position at Stockton which began in 2002, Boakes, of Mays Landing, instructs teacher preparation courses that prepare students for their role as future teachers. As Program Coordinator of the Teacher Education Program at Stockton, Boakes has also been a part of the development of several degree paths that lead to teacher certification.

I feel very fortunate to have a chance to touch others’ lives and be a part of the preparation of the next generation of teachers
Norma Boakes, professor of Education

“The very first education-specific concentration created was a B.A. in Mathematics with Education Concentration that leads to K-12 Mathematics certification. I’ve also helped to create and expand course offerings in Education to support students’ mathematical development such as Elementary School Math - Geometry for Teachers,” Boakes said, when asked what contributed to earning this honor. “I believe it is my support and continual contributions to support and develop students’ interest and skills in teaching mathematics at the PK-12 level that made me worthy of this award.”

As a professor, Boakes regularly exposes students to the importance of professional development and involvement in professional associations. 

“For the past seven years, beyond the current pandemic year, I have served as the student volunteer chair for the AMTNJ annual math educator conference. In this role, I gather two-year and four-year students to serve as volunteers for the event,” Boakes remarked. “This has provided a chance for my Stockton students and other students at two-year and four-year institutions to experience a math education conference first-hand.”

Boakes said she has spent nearly her entire career, from her work as a K-12 math teacher to a professor for the University, as a member of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey. 

“The work I do with AMTNJ has allowed me to support teachers and leaders throughout the state including involvement in conferences, workshops and even national-level events. One of my proudest moments was having the opportunity, through AMTNJ, to serve as Program Chair for a large-scale National Council of Teachers of Mathematics regional math conference held at Atlantic City, N.J. in 2015 that attracted over 3,500 teachers,” Boakes said.

When asked how she felt about receiving this award from an organization she clearly has put so much into, much like her career, Boakes reflected, “I feel very fortunate to have a chance to touch others’ lives and be a part of the preparation of the next generation of teachers.”

Boakes teaches The Art & Math of Origami at Stockton, which was offered for the first time during the fall this past semester. The general studies course is a four-credit course that uses the  art of paperfolding, Origami, to teach about the art itself, the mathematics inherent within it, as well as cultural and historical ties to Origami.  At the end of the course, the students and I collaborate on an art showcase to display their Origami art resulting from the course. Due to the pandemic, the class created a virtual show through a web-based program that can be viewed here.

Reported by Mandee McCullough