2000 MTA Winner: Don Rideout
We, the undersigned, nominate Don Rideout for the 2000 Motivational Teaching Award.
Originally from Burlington [and Baie Verte], Dr. Rideout serves as an example of the academic success Newfoundlanders can achieve. His footprint of mathematics teaching in this province spans our generation as well as that of our teachers and parents. Not only do these people remember him, but he remembers them.
Like many Newfoundlanders, Dr. Rideout has always been a storyteller. When students visit him only half the time is spent talking mathematics. The other half is spent finding out where the student is from, who their parents are, and who taught them in high school. It usually turns out that he has been there and knows them all.
These personal approaches are also used in his teaching. His presentation of the Pythagorean Theorem always contains the story of how his father laid a square foundation for a house using 6, 8, and 10-foot boards. His lectures on Fermat's Last Theorem include a video of the Nova documentary on Andrew Wiles as well as a tale about the conference where they sold T-shirts printed with proofs of the theorem (condensed proofs, that is). One of the most memorable lines he used was during a story about his time in Montreal when he said “French girls know how to dress.”
In addition to being an inspirational teacher, Dr. Rideout is a role model for his students and his colleagues. His spiritual devotion serves as a reminder that there is a life outside mathematics. What makes this even more significant is that he maintains it while working in a secular university community and living in an urban society whose appreciation of a religious commitment is declining. As well, his consistent swimming routine reminds us that work should always be mixed with a little play.
For Dr. Rideout's commitment, completeness, and devotion, he is deserving of the Motivational Teaching Award.