Dr. Irma Cruz-White wins Chipola’s Kirkland Award

MARIANNA—Dr. Irma Cruz-White, Chipola College Mathematics Professor, has been selected by her colleagues for the Kirkland Award for Excellence in Teaching.

On winning the award, Cruz-White says, “It is an absolute honor to have won this award and to be part of the Chipola College family. I owe my professional success to the support I have always received from my colleagues and everyone at Chipola.”

Dr. Cruz-White has a Bachelor of Science in Computational Mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico, a Master of Science in Mathematics and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Mathematics from Florida State University.

Upon completion of her Ph.D, she was hired at Chipola College as a Mathematics Facilitator with duties including program development for the Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education, and teaching mathematics courses in both the Associate of Arts and Bachelor of Science Mathematics Education program.

The colleague who nominated her for the award says, “Dr. Cruz-White communicates very well to her students and equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in all math courses. She is a leader in her department and is always willing to assist her colleagues.  During the pandemic, she found effective and creative ways to teach her students face-to-face and online. She is always willing to assist and take extra time with her students. She serves on several committees and is also a vital member of UFF-Chipola Faculty Association bargaining team.”

Dr. Cruz-White was recognized with an outstanding graduate assistant teaching award while teaching at FSU. Although her academic preparation was Topology, Dr. Cruz-White quickly applied that content knowledge to the teaching of mathematics.   She completed requirements for a Florida Teaching Certificate, became an active member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), trained to serve as an NCATE Program Reviewer, and was nominated by Chipola to serve as a Florida Teacher Certification Examination (FTCE) mathematics test item writer and validator.

These initial steps into national and state organizations and initiatives catapulted Dr. Cruz-White into other opportunities that have increased her professionalism and enhance the Chipola education programs and classrooms.

Dr. Cruz-White became a Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP) member and served as a site visitor for the first accreditation standards. Dr. Cruz-White currently serves as the NCTM CAEP SPA Coordinator, coordinating all efforts related to the National Accreditation of Mathematics Education Programs.

Dr. Cruz-White also contributes her expertise at the state level by serving in numerous FTCE (Florida Teacher Certification Exams) meetings, as a Mathematics Teacher Expert designee representing the Florida College System for the Florida Department of Education Standards Review, and as a Florida Statewide Mathematics Council member. At the national level, Dr. Cruz-White has also served as a board member of NCSM – a mathematics education leadership organization, and currently as a board member of TODOS: Mathematics for All.

To further develop her expertise in mathematics education, Dr. Cruz-White requested and was granted a one-year release from Chipola to teach mathematics in a 9–12 high school during the 2012-13 academic year.

At the beginning of her teaching career at Chipola, Dr. Cruz-White was named as a project NExT Fellow by the Mathematical Association of America. During her two-year fellowship she participated in seminars throughout the United States. She was selected for Reconnect Program from the Center for Dynamic Data Analysis (DyDAn) at Rutgers University and the Legacy of R. L. Moore Conference – An Inquiry Based Learning Conference. She presented her research in Biomedical Mathematics at several conferences and numerous articles reference this research. She was co-author of a paper on “Applications of Computational Homology to Prediction of Treatment Response in Breast Cancer Patients” (DeWoskin, D., Climent, J., Cruz-White, I., Vazquez, M., Park, C., and Arsuaga, J), and this year she is co-author for the paper “Zero Helicity of Seifert Framed Defects” by Sumners, De; Cruz-White, Irma; Ricca, Renzo for publication in the Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical.

The Kirkland Award was established by brothers, J.R. Kirkland and David Kirkland, in honor of their parents, the late Willis and Carolyn Kirkland of Marianna. The award provides a $1,000 bonus to the annual recipient. Previous winners include: Amanda Clark, Dr. Rachel West, Kurt McInnis, Amie Myers, Glenda Bethel, Casey Dowgul, Joy Ree (Georgia) Ashmore, Vikki Milton, Dr. Gina McAllister, Robert Ivey, Dr. David Hilton, John Gardner, Stan Young, Richard Hinson, JoAnn Everett, Dr. Rose Cavin, Dr. Lou Cleveland, Nancy Burns, Geraldine DeFelix, Mary McClendon, Dr. Stephen Shimmel, Lee Shook, Kathryn Roberts, Brenda Alford, Paul Huang, Peggy Register, Charlene Lord, Lonnie Keene, Dr. Cherry Ward, Jean Taylor, Dr. Robert Dunkle, and faculty-emeriti: Donald Holley, Dr. Bill Brievogel and Don Adams.