Many extraordinary educators make a mark in areas other than teaching. This is certainly the case with junior high school math teacher Geraldine Claudette Darden, who became the 14th African American in the country to earn a doctorate in mathematics.
Geraldine was born on July 22, 1936, in Nansemond County, Virginia. She attended the segregated Black public schools of her county, and by all accounts was a very good student. After high school graduation, she enrolled at the Hampton Institute, a historically African-American institution of higher learning, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1957 and her master’s degree in 1960. She also earned a master’s degree from University of Illinois at Ubana, Champaign, and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University. This amazing educator was the 14th African American in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics.
Geraldine accepted her first teaching position at S.H. Clarke Junior High School in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1957. In the summer of 1958, she saw a unique opportunity for aspiring mathematicians when the Russians launched the satelllite Sputnik, an event that spurred a national interest in mathematics and science. She applied for and received a National Science Foundation grant to attend the Summer Institute in Mathematics held at North Carolina Central University. There she met Marjorie Lee Browne, the mathematician who directed the Institute, who encouraged Geraldine to go on to graduate school at Syracuse.
After earning her degrees, Geraldine became strongly interested in mathematics education at the high school and college level. So, in addition to teaching, this chalkboard champion co-wrote selected papers on pre-calculus with acclaimed textbook authors Tom Apostol, Gulbank D. Chakerian, and John D. Neff.
Geradline Claudette Darden: A true chalkboard champion.