Nancy Lee Anderson, the "Math Lady"
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September 25, 1946 - June 14, 2013
Nancy Anderson passed peacefully from this world to the waiting arms of her Savior Jesus Christ in her home in east Salem on Friday, June 14th. She was with her two sons and her husband of 34 years when she succumbed to the effects of an as yet undetermined neurologic condition.
Nancy was born in Waynesboro Pennsylvania to Lorine and Robert Spidell, She grew up and graduated from high school in Chambersburg Pennsylvania, then earned a degree in Science Education from nearby Shippensburg State University. After completing her degree, she taught with the Peace Corp in St. Lucia in the West Indies and in schools in American Samoa.
Following her overseas experiences she moved to Oregon, settling in Monmouth where she took courses to certify her to teach in Oregon. She continued her teaching career at Judson Middle school in Salem, where she quickly transitioned from science to basic math courses. It did not take her long to realize a passion for teaching math to those students who seemed to struggle most. She quickly became aware that these students learned best when playing games rather than using traditional methods. At that point in her life she began spending most of her spare time creating games to help her students learn more successfully.
In the winter of 1977, she met her husband to be David Anderson of Salem. With Nancy's encouragement, David completed education training at OSU to become a woodworking teacher. Following his graduation in the spring of 1979, they were married and moved to St Helens, Oregon where they both taught for two years. In the summer of 1981 their first son Lucas was born and they moved to Salem to teach in the Salem School District. Their second son, Ian, was born in 1984. She returned to teaching at Judson, and over the ensuing 20 years, taught at many other Salem schools as well.
Throughout Nancy's teaching career, she continued to develop an appreciation for the effectiveness of games and manipulatives as powerful tools for teaching mathematics. She found strength in students learning first with concrete objects that could then transfer to more abstract models that were more traditionally taught.
She became very involved in leadership role in the mathematics community of the Northwest through the Northwest Council of Teachers of Mathematics and Northwest Math Leaders. These volunteer organizations provide collegial support for teachers to share expertise and improve their teaching skills.
Nancy received two awards for her work, the first in 1988, was the Presidential Award given to one Science and one Math teacher from each state by the National Science foundation. The second was the Mildred Bennett award by the OCTM for her work at the elementary/middle school level.
Following her retirement from full time classroom teaching in Salem in 2001, she continued to share her expertise and enthusiasm. She created a company called "Making Math Count" and under that banner provided consultation and training with teachers in Salem and around the northwest. She also developed and taught math methods courses for Portland State and Oregon State Universities. Her energy and commitment to the meaningful understanding of fundamental mathematics concepts left an unforgettable mark on her students who ranged in level from kindergarten to graduate level teachers. She was "THE MATH LADY".
She was preceded in death by both her parents, and is survived by her husband David, her two son's Lucas, (Kelsie), and Ian, (Abby, to be married July 25th) and her two sisters, Ginger Beckner of Salem, and Robin Robison (Shane) of Los Altos California as well as six nieces and nephews.
A celebration of her life will be held at Fruitland Community Church on Friday evening June 28th at 7:00. In lieu of flowers, please send donation to: Nancy Anderson Memorial Fund, care of Fruitland Community church, 813 63rd Ave. NE Salem, OR 97317
Published in StatesmanJournal from June 19 to June 23, 2013