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Empowering Communities through Mathematics: The Math Symposium's Journey from Community Engagement to Partnership 

"I just loved seeing all those kids and their confidence and pride in presenting their research. What a cool thing!" 

                                            -- Symposium Attendee


The Math Symposium, an annual event organized by the College of Education and City Academy, is rapidly becoming a beacon of community engagement, fostering a love for mathematics and interdisciplinary learning among students and their families. Spearheaded by Dr. Jose Francisco Gutierrez in the Department of Education, Culture & Society and Roger Quinonez from City Academy, this year's symposium showcased an array of captivating research topics, ranging from sustainable architecture and stem cell research to the Collatz Conjecture (a simple yet unsolved math theory).

Here, we delve into the concept of community-engaged events, using the Math Symposium as an exemplary model. By highlighting the Symposium's success in involving families and transitioning towards family partnership, we hope to inspire and guide others in organizing similar events.

Dr. Gutierrez's Vision for Community Engagement
Dr. Gutierrez, a dedicated faculty member, firmly believes that engaging the community in educational initiatives has the power to transform lives and inspire lifelong learning. Working with local teachers as the driving force behind the Math Symposium, they have envisioned a platform where students, families, and educators would collaborate, share knowledge, and nurture a passion for mathematics in a supportive environment.

The Symposium as a Community Engaged Event
The Math Symposium truly embodies the essence of a community engaged event. This year's event went beyond the boundaries of the academic institution and embraced the broader community. By including diverse research topics such as sustainable architecture, stem cells, music, and more, the Symposium appealed to a wide range of interests, fostering curiosity and engagement.

The Face of the Symposium: Students and Families
At the heart of the Math Symposium are the participants themselves, who truly embody the spirit of the event. These highly engaged students take ownership of their projects and learn how to deeply engage with mathematics. Students presented their research findings, exchanged ideas with peers and experts, and inspired others through their enthusiasm. Guardians and family members also played a crucial role, supporting and encouraging their children throughout the process.

Group of young men by research poster    Students by research poster with parent    Student and parent 

Student showing poster   Group of students with parent or guardian  Attendees look at student posters

Student with parent or guardian and poster

A Comment from the Dean
Dean Frankie Santos Laanan, the esteemed leader of the College of Education, praised the Math Symposium's commitment to community engagement. He stated, "The Math Symposium is a testament to the power of collaboration and inclusivity in education. By involving students, families, and local partners, this event not only promotes mathematical literacy but also strengthens the bonds between our institution and the community we serve. I commend Dr. Gutierrez, Roger, the students and their guardians for this outstanding effort."

Moving towards Family Partnership
While family involvement has been a cornerstone of the Math Symposium, Dr. Gutierrez and Mr. Quinonez aspire to deepen the connection by transitioning from family involvement to family partnership. This evolution aims to create a more meaningful and sustained engagement between families and the Symposium, allowing them to contribute to the planning and decision-making processes for next year's event. The Math Symposium is meant to start a dialogue between schools and parents, a two-way conversation about how else we can support families and their children’s needs, specifically around mathematics.

Roger and Dr. Jose Guiterrez  Room of attendees looking at posters  Student and parent

Conclusion and Additional Resources
The Math Symposium is a shining example of how a community engaged event can bring together diverse stakeholders, foster a love for mathematics, and empower participants to be active contributors. By sharing their experiences and insights, we hope to inspire others to embrace community engagement and create transformative educational events. Let us continue to celebrate the power of mathematics, family, and community as we shape the future together.

Remember to follow the Math Symposium's journey on this site and join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #utahteachers, #math, #family, and #communityengagement.

Student Poster Titles

Further Reading

Aguirre, J., Mayfield-Ingram, K., & Martin, D. B. (2013). Partnering with families and communities to support children’s equitable mathematics learning. In Impact of Identity on K-8 Mathematics (pp. 106–115). National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Epstein, J. L., & Associates (2019). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action (4th ed.). Corwin.

Ferlazzo, L. (2011). Involvement or engagement? Educational Leadership, 68(8), 10–14.

Gutierrez, J.F. (in preparation). Reckoning with mathematics: Challenging racist myths, promoting family/community engagement, and finding healing in math education.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23