Mathematics professor Aaron Wootton has been awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award for the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Pacific Northwest Section. Winners of the section award are automatically nominated for the national MAA Deborah & Franklin Tepper Haimo Award, given to nominees who are widely recognized as extraordinarily successful in their teaching, who have had an influence in their teaching beyond their own institution, and who foster curiosity and generate excitement about mathematics in their students. The Pacific Northwest Section includes all institutions of higher education in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and the Northwest, Nunavut, and Yukon territories.
Wootton has been teaching math classes spanning the entire undergraduate curriculum for 21 years. The success of his teaching comes down to his willingness to listen carefully to his students and colleagues and adapt his teaching methods accordingly. He teaches classes offering students multiple formats to help in their learning, creating a safe and comfortable learning environment, and by regularly communicating with them to learn about their individual needs and concerns. For example, he requires that every student picks up each of their tests from his office in person. Though these meetings take up a tremendous amount of time (200+ meetings per semester), every minute is time well spent as it allows him to build an honest and trusting relationship with his students, and it provides him with the opportunity to identify and help students who are struggling.
Outside of the classroom, to pique student interest in mathematics, Wootton created a course in cryptography and drafted an accompanying 200-page textbook. Nationally, Aaron is recognized as the founder and series editor of the book series Foundations for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (FURM, published by Springer Verlag). To date, FURM has released one volume with two further volumes in press. He is a member of the Mathematics Calculus Consortium, a group of educators ranging from high school teachers to faculty from world-renowned research universities. Since joining the Consortium, he has been involved in the completion of four new edition textbooks, all of which are published by Wiley, and are strong sellers throughout the world.