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Wally Rogelstad

Mathematics education lost another good friend recently, when Wally Rogelstad died due medical complications.

Though Wally began his teaching career in Washougal (WA), he is best known for teaching mathematics and computer science at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie (OR) from 1964-1990. Wally deserved his many professional honors: OCTM President, on NCTM Board of Directors, Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching, Pacific Lutheran University's Alumnus of the the Year, and membership in the Oregon Math Teachers Hall of Fame!

For the past 40 years, Wally Rogelstad has had a great influence on myself as a teacher and mathematics educator. Whenever he spoke at a mathematics conference, I tried to attend his session...always leaving it super-charged emotionally and filled with creative ideas to share with my students. For example, as a novice teacher in the mid-1970s, I first learned from Wally the idea of folding wax paper squares to explore conic sections...an activity I still do today, but now complement it by the same exploration using Geometers' SketchPad.

I continue to share Wally's ideas in my secondary methods classes (and hopefully his infectious smile and enthusiasm) and know he impacted my own teaching of mathematics at the secondary and college levels.

This past week, in Wally's honor, I shared the idea of exploring reflection symmetry by punching holes in folded paper squares. Try it...it is a worth-while learning adventure, as some of my students learned when they tried the same idea with middle school students two days later!

Why was Wally such a good mentor? Because the ideas he openly shared....worked! He had used the ideas he presented in his own classroom...and thus, they had authenticity. Yet, he was so humble!

For this week's Quote of the Week, I re-share Wally's words about his mission as a teacher of mathematics. Wally, thanks again....you were a good friend and mentor. We will miss you!