Cooper recognized for state and national math education leadership 

By Gracie Ozburn

Sandi Cooper, professor in the Baylor School of Education’s Department of Curriculum & Instruction, was selected as the 2022 recipient of the E. Glenadine Gibb Achievement Award. The award honors a member of the Texas Council for Teachers of Mathematics for contributions to the improvement of math education at the state and national levels. Cooper, Ph.D., received the award at the Conference for the Advancement of Math Teaching in San Antonio in the summer.

Dr. Sandi Cooper

She was nominated by two Baylor colleagues — Trena Wilkerson, professor of mathematics education, and Ryann Shelton, lecturer in Baylor’s online Doctor of Education program in learning and organizational change.

“She is an outstanding colleague and offers significant leadership for the entire mathematics education community,” the nomination said. “She is an exemplary scholar, teacher, and leader.”

“It is an honor to work with [Cooper] in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, and her vision and leadership continue to move our department and the University forward,” said Wilkerson, Ph.D. and interim chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

In 2016, Wilkerson received the award, which is named after E. Glenadine Gibb, former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and a leader in math education in Texas. Wilkerson said Gibb was known as a visionary. “I think that captures Dr. Cooper perfectly. She is a visionary!”

Cooper has been a longtime member of both the national and state math teachers organizations and served as president of Texas body 2017-2019. She was also president of the Central Texas affiliate 2012-2014.

She earned her Ph.D. in math education at Texas A&M University in 1994 and is professor of mathematics education, coordinator of mathematics education, and coordinator of the SOE’s minor in informal education. She was the founding program director of the online Ed.D. in learning and organizational change, Baylor’s largest doctoral program.

Cooper’s main research focus is related to early number development of children in PreK to second grade and the effectiveness of teachers who teach these early learners. She has applied her research to founding and leading the Math for Early Learners Academy, a summer intervention program launched in 2016 to provide positive learning experiences while developing early number concepts for children entering kindergarten and first grade. The MELA research team is developing a curriculum and assessments customized for early interventions.

In her acceptance speech at TCTM, Cooper spoke about how thankful she is for the recognition and for the hope and promise she saw in the roomful of math educators.

“I am honored,” Cooper said. “I became a math teacher in 1985, and I have loved every minute of it. We all know we are facing a crisis in education right now. When I look out and see you, I have hope. You are here spending your time learning, and you’re going to go back and take this information to help your school grow. Thank you for what you are doing in your classrooms and schools. You are really the true champions, and I am honored to be a part of this profession.”

A longer version of this story can be read on the Baylor School of Education’s Instant Impact page.