is with great sadness that we report the passing of Dr. George Lenchner,
the creator of the Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools
and many other organizations. Born on Beethoven's
birthday (December 16) in 1917, he distinguished himself in several diverse
areas. There are perhaps thousands of people whose lives have been changed
for the better because of him. Many of them have openly stated that they
owe their careers to him.
He was a member of
a championship high school math team in the mid-1930s and was All-America
in Lacrosse at the City College of New York. In 1944 as an Airborne Ranger,
Lt. Lenchner was seriously wounded on Omaha Beach D-day while leading
the second wave and spent over a year in hospitals. Returning to civilian
life, he earned a Masters degree in music in 1948 from New York University.
Finally he decided to focus on math education, returning to his first
In 1950 Lenchner became a high school mathematics teacher at
New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn, moving to Valley Stream North
High School in 1953 as its math chairman. In 1954 he proposed the
creation of the Nassau County (NY) Interscholastic Mathematics League
(NCIML) for high school students, perhaps America's first regional
math contest outside of New York City run by the schools themselves.Under
his leadership, NCIML was fully operational one year later. Today it serves
over 1000 students a year. His article in the Mathematics Teacher (National
Council of Teachers of Mathematics, February 1959) on the NCIML sparked
the formation of similar leagues by many county and state math organizations
across the nation. At about this time he also formed the Nassau County
Association of Math Supervisors and suggested forming the Nassau
County Junior High School Mathematics League. In 1960 this new league
held its first meet. Like the NCIML, these organizations are still flourishing.
After Lenchner helped Alfred Kalfus form the Suffolk County Interscholastic
Mathematics League. For ten years beginning in 1959 the NCIML and the
SCIML held annual playoffs. In 1965 he received a second Master's Degree,
an MS in Mathematics from Adelphi University, and in 1972 he earned an
Ed.D. in Mathematics from T.C. Columbia University.
In 1970 he became Director of Mathematics for the Valley Stream Central
School District, working with elementary schools for the first time.
His in-service course, The Art of Problem Solving in School Mathematics,
meant for Valley Stream teachers, eventually became a book for Houghton
Mifflin, one of many books and articles that he authored or co-authored
for major academic publishers. A master teacher, his students include
several prominent mathematics educators and his workshops have inspired
people on five continents to participate in the Math Olympiads.
In 1978 Dr. Lenchner created the Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary
and Middle Schools (MOEMS, originally LIMOES), for the elementary
schools in Valley Stream. However, requests from other math directors
that year led to the creation of LIMOES in 1979. By 1980 it attracted
schools in Arkansas and Washington State, and within another year outgrew
Long Island, Today the math Olympiads serves schools in all 50 states,
3 U.S. territories, and about 30 foreign countries. It also has seven
foreign subsidiaries, serving additional schools in 21 other countries.
In 1982, Dr. Lenchner and Judy Broadwin coauthored an immensely popular
solutions manual for the Advanced Placement examinations in Calculus.
Five years after its final printing, it still sells thousands of copies
a year. In 1983 he retired from Valley Stream to concentrate full-time
on MOEMS. Even so, 1n 1984 he responded to Dr. Jong Pil Lee's request
to help design several more projects to improve mathematics teaching on
Long Island, several of which still flourish. In 1995 Dr. Lenchner retired
from MOEMS and wrote two more books, both of which are still in print.
Among his honors are: National Science Foundation Fellow; HEW Department
Fellow; Mathematics Teacher of the Year Award, NYS Society of Professional
Engineers; Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award, Harvard University;
Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Educational Journalism,
EPA of America; Founder's Award for Outstanding Service, NCIML; LIMACON
Award for Outstanding Contributions to Mathematics Education, Long Island
Mathematics Conference; Goudreau Award for Outstanding Contributions to
Mathematics Education, Goudreau Museum of Mathematics and Science.
On Saturday night,
April 22, Dr. Lenchner fell, striking his head. About 24 hours later,
he passed away at the age of 88, with his wife Edna, and his sons
Eric and David at his side. All live in or around San Francisco. A
small ceremony is planned for this week and a larger memorial service
for a date in May to be determined. The family asks
that any contributions made in his name be sent to the Southern Poverty
Law Center, a favorite charity of his.
Their web site
is http://www.splcenter.org/ and
a donation can be made at https://secure.splcenter.org/donate/online/online.jsp.
Nicholas J. Restivo
Executive Director, MOEMS
Executive Secretary, MOEMS