Jill Ellen Thomley Ph. D. Inducted 2006 - Class of 1986
Dr. Jill Ellen Thomley attended Hamilton Elementary School, Leverette Junior High School, and Woodward High School, graduating in 1986. She lived on Worley Place just off Manhattan Blvd. She was a member of the WHS band, and through the band enjoyed many friendships, including those with Jeannie Lewis, Julie (Carnes) Gaylord, and Pattie (Bensch) Niese. Jeannie, Julie, and Jill started playing in the fifth grade and took private music lessons together well into their high school years. They have all remained friends and talk often.
Jill's favorite memory of Woodward occurred during the summer between her junior and senior years when the marching band participated in the Independence Day Parade in Philadelphia and the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. Although they were roasting inside their wool uniforms because of the intense Washington, D.C. heat, topped off by humidity which approached 100 percent, the experience was nothing short of thrilling. Jill recollects hundreds of thousands of people packed elbow-to-elbow, rows deep, along the two-mile parade route singing
along as the band played.
Jill also participated in the High School Quiz Bowl Team which appeared on television. It was a lot of fun and she and her teammates came up with a motto “look good from the waist up." One of her favorite teachers at Woodward was Miss Amy Miller who taught math and computers. Jill recalls her eccentric and interesting personality. Miss Miller also accompanied Jill on a trip to the International Science and Engineering Fair in Texas during her senior year. Another memorable teacher is Mr. Florkowski who had unbounded enthusiasm and inventive ways of engaging students in his fields of history and social studies. Jill's most memorable teacher was Ms. Iris Szelagowski. She helped Jill obtain valuable educational experiences in the sciences outside the classroom, which enabled her to be competitive at the state, national, and international levels in science competitions. Because of Ms. Szelagowski's influence, Jill's work at the Medical College of Ohio (MUO), led her to attended Harvard University for her undergraduate education. "While there are many dedicated teachers in this world, Iris Szelagowski went well above and beyond the call of duty for so many of us. Furthermore, she really challenged us in her classes as well, which was an excellent preparation for college," remembers Dr. Thomley. While at WHS, Jill received numerous academic awards and is one of only six National Merit Scholars in the school's history.
Jill received her B.A. in Psychology from Harvard University in 1990, her M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1992, and her Ph.D. in Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems (Statistics)from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2000.
Today, Dr. Thomley works as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Appalachian State University (ASU) which is part of the University of North Carolina system. She has participated in a wide variety of research, much of it focused on pedagogy and teacher education. One research endeavor is a multi-million dollar National Science Foundation project called National Computational Science Institute. Now in its fifth year, CSI is already changing the way that undergraduates are being taught. Faculties at undergraduate institutions are educated to incorporate modern tools and technology into their classes for modeling, visualization, and interdisciplinary learning. Jill and her evaluation partner have also been asked to participate in a newly funded grant project that will potentially influence curriculum at all the colleges (two year through university) in the state of Ohio system. The recent accomplishment, of which she is most proud, is obtaining funding from the Mathematics Association of America to host a workshop that will bring together three groups: teams of high school girls, women majoring in mathematics at ASU, and women mathematics faculty. The objective is to foster connections between all levels that will hopefully encourage more girls to pursue higher education in math. Jill helped write the grant and is doing a large part of the administration and implementation.
Jill lives in Blowing Rock, North Carolina with her 10-year-old son Aaron. A lot like his mom, he does well in school and loves math and science. Jill hikes and walks when she can and has studied traditional karate. She also plans to do recreational kayaking with her son. She is currently working on obtaining tenure at Appalachian State University in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Dr. Thomley continues to distinguish herself in teaching, research, consulting, and professional, community, and school service.