Furse recognized for excellence in teaching middle school mathematics | Announce

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Gary Furse, teacher at Pound Middle School is our second winner of the 2024 Florence J. Clark Award for Excellence in Middle School Teaching.
Gary Furse, teacher at Pound Middle School is our second winner of the 2024 Florence J. Clark Award for Excellence in Middle School Teaching.

Gary Furse, teacher of eighth-grade math and algebra at Pound Middle School, is one of two winners of the 2024 Florence J. Clark Award for Excellence in Middle School Teaching. The award honors teachers who demonstrate excellence in middle school teaching and work toward continuous improvement in student achievement and development.

Furse has taught since 1983, beginning at St. James Elementary in Crete, Nebraska, where he taught grades five through seven for seven years. Then, after four years of teaching sixth-grade gifted and talented students in El Paso, Texas, he returned to Nebraska, teaching fifth, then sixth grade at Clinton Elementary and Pound Middle schools, respectively. Furse has been teaching eighth-grade math and algebra at Pound Middle School since 2003.

In addition to teaching K-12 students, Furse has served as an adjunct professor and assistant instructor for several UNL courses. He was a Robert Noyce Master Teaching Fellow and has attended numerous national math and science conferences.

A graduate of North Platte High School, Furse has been a lifelong enjoyer of math and science since he was a child playing with math puzzles and games, chemistry sets, Tinker Toys, and erector sets. He now shares his passion with students.

“There is so much to learn, so many ways to engage students in learning math and science, so many different approaches that get kids excited about learning something new,” Furse said.

Furse earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Doane College (now Doane University) and his master of arts in through the UNL Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education program Math in the Middle.

He “jumped at the opportunity” to sign up for the Math in the Middle courses, which are designed for mathematics teachers of grades four through eight. The program supports cohorts of middle-level teachers in earning master’s degrees.

Expressing enthusiasm for teaching middle schoolers, specifically eighth-graders, Furse said: “They enjoy the challenges of middle school math and algebra. Of course, they will argue that point, but they will admit they love ‘knowing’ things that others don’t. Students love learning simple things deeply, seeing the connections among simple concepts, and how math is everywhere.”

For teachers who want to strive for continuous improvement in education, Furse stresses the importance of continuing learning and sharing in the experience. He recommends attending conferences, taking courses, traveling, and finding new connections.

“I share with my students and my fellow teachers newly acquired fun facts,” Furse said. “I share enthusiasm for learning.”

As evidenced by his recognition with the Award for Excellence in Middle School Teaching, Furse’s enthusiasm for learning has not gone unnoticed by students and colleagues.

“As his principal and as a former math teacher, I have had the privilege of witnessing Mr. Furse’s dedication, passion, and exceptional teaching skills firsthand,” wrote Victory Haines, Pound Middle School principal, in his nomination of Furse for the award. “His tireless commitment for nearly 30 years in fostering a love for mathematics in his students is truly remarkable and deserving of recognition.”

To learn more about the Florence J. Clark Award for Excellence in Middle School teaching or to nominate a teacher, visit the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools.

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