Obituary: Howard Peelle, Professor of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies

Howard Peelle
Howard Peelle

Howard A. “Hap” Peelle, 73, of Amherst, professor of teacher education and curriculum studies and a pioneer in instructional applications of compters, died Dec. 15.

Born Feb. 9, 1944, in Schenectady, New York, he grew up in Roslyn, Long Island, attended Friends Academy, Roslyn public schools and Stony Brook School. He received his B.S. in engineering from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in 1965.

He was recruited to a special doctoral program in education at UMass Amherst under dean Dwight Allen. His wife Carolyn joined the doctoral program as well, and they graduated in 1971 and 1972 respectively.

He joined the faculty full-time in 1971.

In the College of Education’s department of teacher education and curriculum studies he was a pioneer in mathematics education and computer science education. He designed and led new doctoral programs in instructional applications of computers in the 1970s and math and science education in the 1980s.

He was also a visiting professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the University of Hawaii, the University of California at Santa Cruz and Hampshire College.

He published four books and more than 100 articles while teaching courses such as understanding math anxiety, teaching mathematical problem solving, exploring math and science teaching, and teaching mathematics with computing.

In 1994 he received a national award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology from the National Conference on Teaching and Learning.

His international honors included a Fulbright Scholar Award for Lecturing and Research in Malaysia, and he was a Fulbright Senior Specialist for Curriculum Assessment at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. He was also a delegate to the World Science Forum in Budapest in 2011 and in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

During his tenure at UMass Amherst, he served as faculty senator and on councils for Commonwealth Honors College, status of women and international studies.

Active in racquet sports, he competed and often won New England senior tennis tournaments in men’s and mixed doubles (with his wife, Carolyn). When he took up racquetball, he became Massachusetts champion in his age brackets – 40s and 50s ­– 10 times, and he was ranked nationally as high as No. 3.

He also wrote a book on how to solve Rubik’s Cube.

He is survived by Carolyn, his wife of 50 years; brothers RB (Susie) and Paul (Diana); sisters Elaine (Brian), Sallie (Alan) and Nancy (Robb); sister-in-law, Cornelia McDade and brother-in-law, John Curtiss (Sue Ellen); and his four children, Juliet (Nelson), Jessi, Caleb and Mariah (Daniel).

An appreciation of his life will be held at Amherst South Church on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. The family has requested that memorial be sent to Amherst South Church or to the Massachusetts General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.