Massachusetts Mathematics Hall of Fame Inducts Andover’s Donald Barry

After numerous contributions to the field of mathematics, Donald Barry, Instructor in Mathematics, was recently inducted into the Massachusetts Mathematics Educators Hall of Fame. Barry was notified of his acceptance into the Massachusetts Mathematics Educators Hall of Fame this past February. In July, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with three other math instructors from other schools. Barry was “very pleased” to win the award, and said that it was “nice to realize that people outside this school but in the state of Massachusetts recognize the time and effort and ability that you take to make math problems for contests.” Ben Niedzielski ’08 said, “Mr. Barry deserves the award because he prepares his students incredibly well for problem solving in both math and real life.” The Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Mathematics Educators was created in 2001 to recognize exceptional educators in mathematics. A panel reviews nominations and chooses teachers who have been involved in mathematics education in Massachusetts for at least 20 years. Other criteria include having notable records as teachers and having made significant contributions to the advancement of mathematical education. Barry has compiled four books of math problems, complete with solutions, and is currently working on a book about the earliest knowledge of what is now called the Pythagorean Theorem. According to Barry, there were seven ancient civilizations that were aware of Pythagoras’ theorem even before Pythagoras was alive. Barry, nominated by four of his students, also received the Edyth May Sliffe Award for Distinguished High School Mathematics Teaching in 2006 from the Mathematics Association of American (MAA). Surprisingly, Barry did not major in mathematics but instead majored in philosophy at Yale Divinity School. He decided to teach math because he “felt at home in math.” When he discovered his passion for teaching, he first taught in Turkey before coming to the states. From his experience in Turkey, Barry said, he learned the importance of mathematics in engineering, which he considered a very prestigious occupation. “One of philosophy’s concerns is epistemology, the study of how we know what we know,” said Barry. “Mathematical knowledge is a very special kind of knowledge.” Barry was “constantly amazed to discover new areas of mathematical knowledge.” When he moved to the United States after his stay in Turkey, Barry heard about Phillips Academy through friends who had taught at and previously attended boarding schools. Barry discovered that Phillips Academy had great connections with Turkey and joined the faculty in 1980. He currently acts as the faculty advisor of Phillips Academy’s Math Club, which he founded in 1980. Barry also coached many different sports, including cross country, basketball, golf, and speedball and acted as a house counselor too. In addition to his many contributions to Phillips Academy, Barry serves as the head author for the American Regions Math League (ARML) Competition and will contribute to the end-of-the-year state math league competition and the New England Math League (NEML) Competition. “The math department is very proud of Mr. Barry and his award,” said Department Chair of Mathematics Suzanne Buckwalter. “He’s always very enthusiastic…This award recognizes his years of work and dedication with the math team… and in the ARML competition.” Kristen Faulkner ’11, one of Barry’s current students, said, “Math is my favorite subject because of Mr. Barry.” Yerin Pak ’11 said, “He wants us to work to our highest potential… He is very dedicated to his students.” Barry said that he liked to put his students in positions where they could experience creativity in mathematics.