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Connecting Math to the Real World

Connecting Math to the Real World is an NSF funded, three-year project focused on collaborating with teachers to make elementary mathematics meaningful and applicable inside and outside of the classroom by connecting math to real-world topics, including current events and societal issues that are relevant to students’ lives.



Project Members


Courtney Koestler

Dr. Courtney Koestler

“I’m really excited to be part of this team and to learn from the children, families, and teachers here in our region and in the Pacific Northwest.”

Dr. Courtney Koestler is the Director of the OHIO Center for Equity in Mathematics and Science (OCEMS) and an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Courtney’s scholarship centers on diversity, equity, justice, and critical pedagogies in early childhood education, elementary education, teacher education, and mathematics education. Courtney is a proud, former public school teacher and has served as a classroom teacher and mathematics coach in culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse elementary and middle schools. For more information see the OCEMS website.

Profile picture of Amanda Sugimoto

Dr. Amanda Sugimoto is an Assistant Professor in the elementary Graduate Teacher Education Program where she primarily teaches elementary mathematics methods. She completed her PhD in teaching and teacher education at the University of Arizona. She is also a proud elementary teacher with experience working with linguistically, culturally, and economically diverse students both in the United States and abroad. Her research focuses on improving the educational experiences, access, and outcomes of linguistically diverse students in schools, particularly in mathematics.

Profile picture of Mathew Felton-Koestler

Dr. Mathew Felton-Koestler is a Professor and Interim Chair in the Department of Teacher Education in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Matt's scholarship focuses on issues equity, diversity, and social justice in mathematics teacher education. He also studies mathematical modeling, especially of students' out-of-school interests and of social justice issues, and Complex Instruction in mathematics education.

Profile picture of Eva Thanheiser

Dr. Eva Thanheiser is a Professor of Mathematics Education at Portland State University. Eva’s scholarship centers on teaching and learning mathematics in context and as a tool to make sense of the world at the elementary and middle school level. Eva also hosts two podcasts Teaching Math Teaching and Mathematics Teacher Educator Podcast. Eva grew up in Germany and immigrated to the United States in her mid twenties. For more information see her website.

“I cannot wait to collaborate with everyone to develop and implement tasks that connect the mathematics classroom to the real world.”

Laura Wolfe

Laura Wolfe is a Graduate Assistant/Project Manager for Teacher Education in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Laura is a high school teacher (clinical intern) and graduate student in the Master’s of Special Education in Mild to Moderate Needs Intervention Specialist program. Laura is a proud parent, OHIO alumni, substitute teacher, and Junior High Basketball coach.


Howard Bartels

Howard Bartels is a Ph.D. student in Mathematics Education at Ohio University. He has 8 years of  experience teaching high school mathematics. Howard is interested in exploring mathematics teacher knowledge in contexts. 

Molly Robinson

Molly Robinson is a Masters and PhD student in Mathematics Education at Portland State University. She was born and raised in Alaska, but now calls the Pacific Northwest home. She has 15 years of experience as an academic and mathematics coach. Molly’s research interests include equity and equity-centered mathematics teaching practices.

Simon Byeonguk Han

Simon Byeonguk Han is a Ph.D. student in Mathematics Education at Portland State University. He has 10 years of mathematics teaching experience in Korea. His research interests include how to connect a rigorous understanding of mathematics to the real world, the effect of mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT), teachers’ mathematical identity, and teachers' mathematical flexibility for a more equitable mathematics learning environment.


Advisory Board
Tonya Bartell

Dr. Tonya Bartell is an Associate Professor of mathematics education in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on issues of power, culture, and race in mathematics teaching and learning, with a particular focus on socially just mathematics pedagogy.

Theodore Chao

Dr. Theodore Chao is an associate professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University. His expertise involves helping all students and teachers fully see themselves as mathematical humans through technology-based storytelling. Dr. Chao is currently Principal Investigator of a NSF CAREER research project exploring the ways children in urban emergent communities use Digital Mathematics Storytelling to share rich mathematical knowledge from their communities and families.

Naomi Jessup

Dr. Naomi Jessup is an assistant professor of mathematics education at Georgia State University, Atlanta GA. Naomi has more than 15 years of experience in mathematics education at the K-12 and university level serving as an elementary school teacher, K-8 mathematics instructional coach, and formative assessment coach (school and district level), and methods course instructor. One aspect of Naomi’s research studies teacher learning and development, with an emphasis on using critical theories to interrogate mathematics curriculum and pedagogical practices in elementary spaces. Another aspect of her research seeks to highlight the experiences of Black families in mathematics education.

Erin Turner

Dr. Erin Turner is a Professor in the department of Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona. Her scholarship focuses on equity and social justice in mathematics teaching and learning. She specifically focuses on pedagogy that draws upon students’ multiple mathematical funds of knowledge to support students’ mathematical understandings and agency.

Dorothy White

Dr. Dorothy Y. White is a Professor of mathematics education in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Education at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on equity issues in mathematics education, and particularly how to support teachers of culturally diverse student populations.

Maria del Rosario Zavala

Dr. Maria del Rosario Zavala is an Associate Professor of Elementary Education at San Francisco State University. Within teacher education, her focal areas are mathematics and bilingual education. Her scholarship focuses on equity issues in mathematics, especially related to the education of Latino/a students as well as other historically marginalized student populations.