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Honors and Awards

Dean Paola Sztajn Receives Outstanding Alumni Award from Indiana University’s School of Education

Paola Sztajn

NC State College of Education Dean Paola Sztajn has been awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award from Indiana University’s School of Education, where she earned her Ph.D. in mathematics education.

The award is one of four Distinguished Alumni Awards given annually to alumni who have enhanced the reputation of the school by distinguishing themselves in their careers and who have made significant contributions to their community, state and country through professional and public service and civic activities. The Outstanding Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed on IU School of Education alumni. 

“When I arrived at Indiana University over 30 years ago, I had no idea of the amazing ride I was about to start by pursuing a Ph.D. in Education. I was changing countries; I was changing language; I was changing my research field, and I think it all paid off.  I am honored to receive this award and thankful for the opportunities my degree afforded me,” Sztajn said. 

A Brazil native and former physics major, Sztajn shifted into education after a life-changing experience with a project in the Amazon jungle, where she worked with the Surui people, who wanted to know about numbers and how to count in order to deal with business. 

Her research– which cumulatively totals more than $30 million in funding — has focused on early mathematics, specifically on teachers of elementary school math. 

She created the Project AIM professional development program to help elementary school teachers learn to promote mathematics discourse for all learners using techniques adapted from literacy instruction to mathematics.

Across several implementations, teachers who participated in Project AIM demonstrated a better understanding of mathematics discourse, were better prepared to implement high-quality discourse and reported attending to various dimensions of discourse in their practice. Participants also significantly outperformed teachers who did not participate.

Using a recent, $3.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Sztajn is currently expanding Project AIM by strengthening the model for teachers through designing support for coaches and principals, with the goal of measuring the impact the professional development has on student outcomes.

Sztajn began serving as dean of NC State’s College of Education in April 2022 after serving as the interim dean for several months. She is also a professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences and has served as a special assistant for faculty research and development with the Office of the Provost and the university’s Office of Research and Innovation.