BH Neumann Awards for 2014 were presented to Alan Parris and Holly Gyton on 24 May at a dinner in the Crowne Plaza, Canberra. The two recipients, both mathematics teachers, were chosen as recipients of this award for their outstanding contribution to the enrichment of mathematics learning.

This Award honours the influence of Professor Bernhard H Neumann AC, (1909 to 2002), who, after his arrival in Australia in 1962 provided outstanding leadership, support and encouragement for mathematics and the teaching of mathematics at all levels.

Mike Clapper, Executive Director of the Australian Mathematics Trust, presented the awards with the following citations.

In the early 1970’s Alan met Gus Gale (National State AMC director) when he was his associate teacher in secondary teacher training. Gus mentored Alan into a lot of local and international mathematics adventures and is still doing so over 40 years later.

The NZ Association of Mathematics was formed in 1976 and Peter O’Halloran went to the first Australasian Mathematics conference in Christchurch. There he gave a workshop on the benefits of competitions in mathematics and introduced the concept of the AMC. In 1979 Linwood College joined the AMC and Alan has been the school competition manager ever since, probably making him the longest serving AMC school manager having done the job for 35 years in the same school.

In 1984 Alan attended ICME 4 in Adelaide and learnt about the International Mathematical Olympiad. He was a founding member of the NZ IMO committee and has attended a number of IMOs, including the 1988 IMO in Canberra.

For 11 years Alan was the NZ state moderator for the AMC and for the last 11 years has been on the AMC Secondary Problems Committee helping to set the papers.

As President of NZAMT, Alan was able to facilitate the AMC obtaining a booth at the biennial conferences where he helped to man the booth with either Peter Taylor or me and on one occasion by himself. He also brokered the deal where Australians attending the NZAMT conferences are treated as NZAMT members for registration.

When the AMC medal ceremonies were shifted from Australia, Alan was instrumental in organising the NZ ceremony to be at the NZAMT biennial conferences before more than 500 teachers, students and parents.

The AMC has given Alan many opportunities to network with overseas colleagues, meet new and old friends, form lifelong friendships and keep his brain challenged, dreaming up new problems, solving potential AMC problems and seeing students succeed and progress through the AMC each year, into the IMO and through University.

For his outstanding contribution to maths enrichment and the AMT, both here and in NZ, Alan is a very worthy winner of the BH Neumann award.

Holly is currently the Deputy Head of School at SCEGGS Darlinghurst – and proud to be a maths teacher!

Holly grew up in the southern suburbs of Sydney and was lucky to have some truly outstanding maths teachers. At Hurstville Primary School, Mr Paull was the first to really expand her horizons about problem-solving and helped her to see the challenge and fun in mathematics. Then, at St George Girls’ High School, this continued with many outstanding maths teachers. These teachers helped her develop a love of mathematics, as well as inspiring her to consider being a maths teacher. She has great memories of doing the ‘Westpac Competition’ as it was known then – and then talking about how they approached the problems afterwards. These experiences as a student confirmed the decision that being a maths teacher was the job for her!

In 1992, Holly went to Sydney University where she studied Pure Mathematics and Education. After completing honours, she started teaching in 1996 at SCEGGS Darlinghurst and has had some wonderful opportunities in the classroom since then. Holly likes the challenge of being a maths teacher, of sparking the curiosity of students and exploring how they can learn, even those who need all our powers of persuasion to help them see how good mathematics can be!

After 4 years of teaching, Holly realised that she missed being a mathematics student and embarked on an MA in Pure Mathematics at Sydney University at night. Although she confesses that some assignments were finished only moments before they were due, this course really expanded her knowledge of Mathematics and opened her eyes about other ways to challenge the most talented mathematicians. At the end of this degree, Holly decided that she was never studying ever again! But this was not to be … in 2010, she enrolled in an MBA at AGSM/UNSW, also a great learning experience.

It was in 1999 that Anne Hastings asked Holly to be a moderator of the Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC), and then, later on, she was invited onto the Secondary Problems Committee for this competition. For those who shudder at the idea of joining a committee, Holly claims that the Secondary Problems Committee is the most efficient, effective and fun committee she has ever come across – and loves it! She has met some wonderful problem solvers, who can show you some truly magical ways to think about mathematical puzzles. For her, the AMC Problems Committee reminds her that she hasn’t really changed since those days of doing the competition as a school student – she loves talking about the questions, seeing how others approached them and realising that perhaps there was an even more cunning plan than the one she had. Holly’s Nan, who is 91 reminds her continually how important it is to keep on learning … and she has learnt so much through her involvement with the Australian Mathematics Trust.

In addition to her work with the AMT, Holly worked with Terry Gagen at the National Mathematics Summer School for several years. It was an opportunity to see problem-solving in action again but in a very different way. Many of these students found like-minded maths lovers in their peer group for the first time in their life. Holly strongly believes that Australia needs to do everything possible to support the development of our most talented mathematicians and scientists – and these sorts of opportunities are pivotal in this!

In 2001, Holly became more involved in MANSW (the Mathematical Association of NSW), joining the committee firstly as an additional member and then later going on to organise several MANSW Annual Conferences as the Conference Convener. These conferences were such a great source of ideas from fellow classroom practitioners and she always came back energized and with lots of plans for different activities in her classroom. In 2006, she was elected as the President of MANSW.

For Holly’s many and varied contributions to mathematics teaching and enrichment, she is a very worthy recipient of a BH Neumann award.

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