About Us

The UCLA Curtis Center is a group of K-12 and university mathematics enthusiasts who work together to improve the quality of K-12 mathematics activity.

Our Mission

  • Provide effective opportunities for K-12 teachers to deepen their understanding of the mathematics they teach, extend their knowledge of mathematics, and learn how to apply their mathematical knowledge to the work of teaching.
  • Provide effective training of undergraduates for careers in mathematics teaching and mathematics teacher leadership.
  • Write mathematics curriculum for use in K-12 mathematics classrooms that engages students in sense making, justification and application of mathematics.
  • Develop mathematics assessments focused on problem sovling, communicating reasoning, and application of mathematics in order to promote student readiness for college mathematics courses, careers and life.
  • Provide high quality mathematics activities for students in local schools to give them a view of mathematics as a creative reasoning and problem solving activity with intrinsic beauty and meaningful application.

Our History

The UCLA Mathematics Department has a strong tradition of involvement in the entire spectrum of mathematical activity with programs ranging from K-12 mathematics to advanced current research. The department’s involvement in mathematical activity at the pre-collegiate level was significantly shaped by Professor Emeritus Phil Curtis, who played a singular role in the establishment of most of the department’s current mathematics education programs.

Building on this tradition, on June 5, 2007, the department, at the impetus of Chair Christoph Theile and Professor Theodore Gamelin, established the Philip C. Curtis Jr. Center for Mathematics and Teaching, to further high quality K-12 mathematics activity.

Philip C. Curtis Jr.

Philip C. Curtis Jr. was a UCLA Mathematics professor for over 50 years and produced pioneering and internationally recognized work in the Banach Algebras. He was appointed as Chair of the UCLA Mathematics Department two times and was a leading advocate for high quality K-12 mathematics instruction.

Over his years in the UCLA Mathematics Department, Phil founded the statewide UC/CSU California Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project, the UCLA Visiting High School Teacher Program, and the UCLA Joint Mathematics Education Program. He was instrumental in the development of the UCLA Mathematics Project, the UCLA Math Content Program for Teachers, and a program which prepared K-12 students for competitive mathematics exams. He passed on December 19, 2016.

Los Angeles Times Obituary

Donate to the Philip C. Curtis Jr. Center in Phil’s Honor

Leadership Team

Heather Dallas
Executive Director

Heather Dallas

Executive Director

Heather Dallas has taught mathematics for 25 years in local public schools and the UCLA Mathematics Department. As a public school teacher, Heather co-developed a specialized course for students previously excluded from Algebra in which failure rates were cut in half. In addition, she increased student access to success in BC AP Calculus, increasing enrollments sevenfold while maintaining an almost 100% pass rate. During this time, she taught and developed curriculum for the professional development efforts of both the California Math Project and the UCLA Mathematics Department. In 2000, she served as the UCLA Mathematics Department’s youngest ever Department Visiting High School Teacher and since then she has trained 17 cohorts of senior mathematics majors to be secondary mathematics teachers in her role as lecturer in the Department.

In her role as Director of The Curtis Center, Heather has led multiple projects with districts and industry partners aimed at improving the quality of mathematics activity in schools. She served as PI on two California Math Science Partnership grants and directed the 2015-17 Smarter Balanced Performance Task Development Project. In addition, she regularly provides national and statewide leadership in mathematics education, and has served on the California Academic Content Standards Committee, the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Race to the Top Technical Review, and the California Framework Committee. She is also a Nationally Board Certified Teacher.

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Michelle Sidwell
Director of Special Projects

Michelle Sidwell

Director of Special Projects

Michelle Sidwell earned a B.S. in Mathematics/Economics and a Masters of Education during her time at UCLA. During this time, she also engaged in mathematical research in the prestigious RIPS program at the UCLA Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics. Upon graduation, Michelle taught mathematics at Crenshaw High School for six years. In this role, Michelle developed much of her own curriculum and significantly expanded student access to and success in AP Calculus and AP Statistics.

At The Curtis Center, Michelle has taught mathematics courses and professional development institutes for current teachers and authored curriculum for the mathematical training of teachers, including an 80-hour inquiry-based Geometry course.  She served on the  Project Leadership of BRIDGES, a California Math Science Partnership with Glendale Unified School District. In addition, she served as the High School Grade Band Leader for the 2015-2017 Smarter Balanced Performance Task Project, authoring and editing assessment items for use in summative statewide assessments used across 21 US States. Recently, she oversaw the development of 13 Geometry lessons which benefited from the use of magnetic polygonal tools, called Magformers, as concrete models.

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Helen Chan
Director of Professional Development

Helen Chan

Director of Professional Development

Helen Chan earned a B.S. in Mathematics/Applied Science, a California Teaching Credential, and a Master of Education from UCLA. She has 23 years of experience in K-16 mathematics education, including 11 years with the UCLA Mathematics Department. In the Department, Helen taught mathematics courses for future elementary school teachers and mathematics courses for current elementary school teachers and co-authored a number of mathematics courses for current teachers.

Helen served as an author for the 2015-2017 Smarter Balanced Performance Task Project, writing a number of elementary mathematics performance tasks for use on summative statewide assessments across more than 21 US States. Currently, she writes mathematics curriculum and trains instructors for the Center’s professional development work with local mathematics teachers.

In addition to her work at The Curtis Center, Helen currently also teaches algebra at Da Vinci Innovation Academy.

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Michelle Welford
Director of Formative Assessment

Michelle Welford

Director of Formative Assessment

Michelle Welford holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, a Master’s in Education and is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. She taught high school mathematics for 10 years during which time she wrote her own Geometry and AP Statistics curriculum. Her efforts significantly improved student access to success on the AP Statistics exam, with pass rates increasing from 20% to 94% after she took over the program. Michelle followed these successes by serving for five years as an instructional coach at University High School for the Los Angeles Unified School District during which time she also wrote professional development curriculum in geometry for the UCLA Mathematics Department.

Michelle’s work for The UCLA Curtis Center, draws on her extensive knowledge of mathematics, pedagogy, Common Core State Standards, incorporation of technology, teamwork/collaboration with others, meticulous attention to detail, and time management. Michelle Welford was Co-Director of the 2015-2017 Smarter Balanced Performance Task Project during which time she was pivotal in the development of 168 mathematical modeling tasks used in summative assessments across 21 US States.

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Chris Anderson
Faculty Advisor

Chris Anderson

Faculty Advisor

Professor Chris Anderson received his A.B. in Mathematics and Ph. D. in Applied Mathematics from UC Berkeley. He has taught Mathematics at UCLA since 1986 as has served as the Director of the UCLA Program in Computing (PIC) since 2005.

Chris has presented at the annual Curtis Center Mathematics and Teaching Conference, created applied math tasks for the 2015-2017 Smarter Balanced Performance Task Project, and served as an editor for mathematics and physical science lessons written by teachers in BRIDGES, the Center’s California Math Science Partnership with Glendale Unified School District. At UCLA, he has served on the UCLA Academic Senate Committee on Instructional Improvement for over ten years and is also a recipient of the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award.

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James Ralston
Emeritus Faculty Advisor

James Ralston

Emeritus Faculty Advisor

Professor Emeritus James Ralston received his Ph. D. in Mathematics from Stanford University in 1969. He joined the UCLA Mathematics Department in 1970 and his research focuses on partial differential equations. In addition, to teaching in the Department, he has served as Mathematics Department Chair and Vice Chair and advisor to 13 students.

In his work at The Curtis Center, Jim edits mathematics curriculum for use in professional development as well as K-12 classrooms, as well as content for district curriculum guides. He has presented at the Center’s annual Conference and edited and authored applied math tasks for the 2015-2017 Smarter Balanced Performance Task Project. In addition, he provides oversight and support for the UCLA Math Department’s mathematics courses for future teachers (Math 71, 72 103 and 105). Most importantly, he knows the whereabouts of all good hikes in Sequoia National Park 🙂

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Marcus Roper
Faculty Advisor

Marcus Roper

Faculty Advisor

Professor Marcus Roper received his Ph. D. in mathematics from Harvard University and joined the UCLA Mathematics Department in 2010. In addition to teaching mathematics, he conducts research in mathematical problems coming from physics and biology. He is particularly interested in fungal mycelia, the microvascular system and design and optimization of inertial microfluidic devices.

Marcus has collaborated with The Curtis Center by editing mathematics and physical science lessons written by teachers in the Center’s California Math Science Partnership Grant with Glendale Unified, editing K-12 lessons written for use with Magformers, a magnetic polygons used as concrete models in instruction, as well as speaking to teachers about current mathematical research. In addition, Marcus supports the development of future teachers by serving as the advisor to undergraduate math majors studying to be future high school teachers as they engage in summer research in applied mathematics.

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Affiliate Organizations

Mary Sirody
Director, UCLA Math Diagnostic Testing Project

Mary Sirody

Director, UCLA Math Diagnostic Testing Project

Mary Sirody is available to assist educators in analyzing MDTP diagnostic data that can be used to identify and inform instructional shifts necessary to remedy misconceptions and close gaps in mathematical content knowledge.

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Olga Radko
Director, Los Angeles Math Circle

Olga Radko

Director, Los Angeles Math Circle

Olga Radko is the Founding Director of the Los Angles Math Circle. She received her Ph.D. in mathematics from UC Berkeley in 2002 specializing in Poisson Geometry, and is currently an Academic Administrator at the UCLA department of Mathematics. Olga started LAMC in 2007 and has been leading it since then. She recruits and trains all of the LAMC’s instructors, develops curriculum and oversees all aspects of the program.

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