Meet Dr. Marta Civil…MAPPS Founder and Chair, Roy F Graesser



My research in mathematics education spreads over two areas: teacher education and equity in mathematics education. In particular my focus is on a socio-cultural approach to the mathematics education of ethnic and language minority students (school age and adults).
My overall research interest in teacher education is in the area of elementary teachers’ (preservice and practicing) understanding of and beliefs about mathematics, its teaching and its learning. Four of my current / recent research projects are:

  1. CEMELA (Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as) is a NSF-funded Center for Learning and Teaching. It is an interdisciplinary, multi-university consortium (The University of Arizona, University of California Santa Cruz, University of Illinois at Chicago, The University of New Mexico) focused on the research and practice of the teaching of mathematics to Latino/a students in the United States. CEMELA brings together together experts in mathematics education, mathematics, language, and culture to collaboratively work on improving the mathematics education of low-income Latino/a students.
  2. MAPPS (Math and Parent Partnerships in the Southwest) is a NSF-funded project on parental involvement in mathematics education.The project activities involve leadership development for teams of parents and teachers/administrators, Math for Parents mini courses and Math Awareness Workshops open to all parents / family members in the district community.
  3. Girls in the SYSTEM (Sustaining Youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a NSF-funded project that seeks to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for girls in grades 3 – 8, especially Mexican American, Native American and economically underprivileged girls in southern Arizona.
  4. Project Bridge (Linking home and school: A bridge to the many faces of mathematicsis a research endeavor that combines professional development for a small number of teachers/researchers and the development of teaching innovations in mathematics instruction. A basic premise in project Bridge is a rejection of the deficit model for the education of minority and working-class students(i.e. a model that assumes these students lack adequate experiences and background for formal schooling). Instead we capitalize on the knowledge that these students bring to the classroom (uncovered through ethnographic household visits) and work on developing mathematically rich learning experiences that build on these children’s experiences. This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education/OERI.


I have taught precalculus, mathematics courses for business majors, and mathematics courses for elementary and secondary education majors, and for practicing teachers. My most frequent teaching assignment is mathematics teacher education courses. I have developed and taught several courses for practicing elementary and middle school teachers (algebra, geometry, and technology in mathematics teaching and learning). I also teach graduate level courses on research in mathematics education. I am particularly interested in participatory approaches to the teaching of mathematics. My teaching approach involves small group discussions, hands on activities, and use of technology.



Meet Dr. David Gay…MAPPS Founder and Emeritus Faculty


I love mathematics and love sharing it. The best moments of my forty years of
teaching college mathematics were when light bulbs went on and students exclaimed Aha!

Much of my time at the University of Arizona, I spent with future teachers of mathematics and with math teachers in Arizona schools. I also love to write and have written three college textbooks: Solving Problems Using Elementary Mathematics, Geometry by Discovery, and Explorations in Topology: Map Coloring, Surfaces, and Knots.

I was the Principal Investigator for several projects having funding from outside the University, including teacher-enhancement programs for middle school teachers and programs to take Family Math into Arizona’s small towns and cities. I was the Principal Investigator (along with Marta Civil) of the NSF-funded project that developed and piloted the MAPPS program.
My educational background includes a BA from Princeton and a PhD in mathematics from Dartmouth. Before coming to the U of A in 1977, I taught at UC Berkeley, Talladega College (Alabama), and New College (Sarasota, FL).

Personal note:  I am married and have two children. When I’m not concentrating on mathematics,  I enjoy playing the pipe organ, hiking and reading mystery stories.  I am also a  gourmet cook, so you may just find me in the kitchen practicing my culinary skills.Meet Christina Grossman…MAPPS Co-Director

Meet Christina Grossman…MAPPS Co-Director



In high school, I began to tutor students from junior high who were peers, to students who were older than I was at the time. Beginning my education at Northern Arizona University as a Computer Engineering major, mathematics education still had that magnetic pull on me. It took about a few minutes talking with my advisor, while he patiently and graciously listened, to come to the conclusion that I needed to move from engineering to mathematics education at the secondary level. From this endeavor, I graduated with a B.S. in Secondary Education in Mathematics through Northern Arizona University. Years after, I earned my M.A. in Middle School Mathematics Leadership through the University of Arizona.

With about 10 years of experience in mathematics education, I joined the MAPPS Center in Tucson in 2010. During my teaching career, I taught high school mathematics, was a district Math Specialist 9-12 and later 7-12, and was a Program Coordinator for a district-wide grant focusing to improve the knowledge base and instructional practices for teachers of mathematics grades K-8.

Being a part of the MAPPS Center allows me to connect with teachers, administrators, and most importantly the parents. Working in this field with parents is truly a wonderful and rewarding experience. It is a great privilege to help parents and their children communicate and understand mathematics at the home and feel that learning and understanding mathematics is no longer unattainable

Personal note: I have a husband and three children who are the world to me. From being a mathematics educator and full time mother, in my spare time I enjoy helping others open their mind to the world of mathematics through photography, writing,  and other art forms.

Meet Rick Ramsey…MAPPS Co-Director


After teaching at the middle school level for 33 ½ years, I “retired” from teaching in 2013. I had spent the previous 8 years as a math teacher, and learned a great deal about teaching what is now referred to as “conceptual math.”  I had been the lead teacher in the MAPPS workshops and mini-courses at the school where I taught, so once I retired, I was asked to join the MAPPS team at the University of Arizona.

My role with the MAPPS center is mostly teaching and training. I have led workshops for elementary teachers, some parent workshops, and currently I am involved as a tutor and a consultant for Literacy Connects, a literacy center in Tucson.  As a tutor, I run a math class for adults, and as a consultant, I have helped train other tutors in both math knowledge and teaching/tutoring techniques. So, when I say I have “retired” from teaching, I really mean that I have moved from teaching young people to teaching adults.  Over time, I have discovered that there are similarities in working with both age groups.  But, I find in working with adults, their life experiences bring an entirely different aspect to the interactions that I have with them that I didn’t have with students. I have felt very honored to work with the adults who have participated in the classes and workshops that I have helped facilitate.

Personal note:  I spend my “free” time reading, hiking, hitting the gym, taking care of my animals, and, my latest “project” is riding my bicycle around Tucson.  My personal goal is to ride 1000 miles by the end of my 12th week of riding, and I am thinking of participating in the Tour de Tucson in the fall.