Martin J. Badoian, beloved and legendary high school mathematics teacher at Canton High School, passed away at 6:25am on October 27, 2018. Over the past year, Marty’s usual robust health had slowly left him and a diagnosis of cancer in May pinpointed the reason. He passed away peacefully at home, the morning after enjoying a Red Sox World Series game with family and friends. Family, friends, former students, and current Canton math team students visited often in his last days at home.
He is survived by his wife Linda, son Peter (wife Robin), daughter Leslie (husband Matthew), grandchildren Nicholas, Cooper, Beatrix, Darby, and Nathaniel, sister Barbara, and myriad of his “kids” and “grandkids”--thousands of former students and players on his teams.
As teacher, sports coach, math team coach, friend, brother, husband and father, Martin’s robust commitment to truth, inclusion, and fairness, working to one’s potential, having a “growth mindset” (before we knew the term), team and personal loyalty, dynamic classroom presence and curricular innovation, and love of mathematics inspired generations.
August 23, 1928 Born to Rose and Peter Badoian, brother to Betty, Virginia, and younger sister Barbara. He is brought up in his mother’s home town of Nashua, NH.
Raised solely by his mother and elder sisters on a shoe-string budget in the midst of the Great Depression. A fiercely loyal and loving mother, Rose works odd jobs, though fluent in French and the first Armenian woman to graduate from Nashua High School. Marty was the apple of her eye and despite skipping a meal to do it, she always baked her signature chocolate cake to celebrate with his basketball team after games. During games, Rose was known to position herself by the basket and be a “one-woman cheering section” as described by one newspaper article. An innovative cook, Rose’s stuffed grapeleaves recipe is a unique, ongoing family tradition. The story of her hunting down and scaring off the boy who broke her son’s nose is family lore.
A commercial truck backs up and pins young grade-schooler Marty against a wall, seriously injuring his pelvis and knees. He is out of school for a significant time, and recovery is a long process. When later asked about his favorite teacher, he expresses his gratitude for the teacher that year whose kindness helped him through that difficult time.
Marty is confirmed at the Episcopal church his family attends.
1946 With a team of Nashua High School students literally “from the other side of the tracks,” wins the New Hampshire State Basketball Championship. He is personally responsible for 4 of the last 6 points of the clincher game, including the 30-foot, on-the-buzzer, tie-breaking shot. Marty was known to work on repetitive drills in a non-air-conditioned gym, perfecting his two-hand set shot through the heat of summer, while also praying every night to win the state championship. He reports that tie-breaking shot took an interesting bend on its way to swishing through the basket.
1946 Enlists in the Army the last day of the GI Bill. Experiences boot camp in California and ships out to Japan. Trying out for an exhibition Army basketball team, he is immediately kicked off the court due to his height. He manages to secure a catcher spot on a baseball team by demonstrating over-the-top enthusiasm (perhaps due to his latrine-cleaning job). After continuing to play on various exhibition teams, he is discharged with his official papers categorizing him as: “Entertainer.”
1948-1952 Attends Brown University and decides to major in Math since the engineering labs would not allow time to play basketball. Is Captain of the Basketball Team his senior year, which includes a brief “shoom-shoom” experience of getting schooled by Bob Cousy. He works on campus during the school year and in a factory throughout the summers. Becomes a member of Lambda-Chi-Alpha Fraternity, which despite controversy and national pressure admits its first African American student.
1952-1953 Works towards a Masters in Education at American International University. He is assistant Head Coach of the Basketball Team. Getting by on little money with a good deal of stress, he experiences a life-threatening ulcer and decides to not “hold things in.”
1954-1956 Teaches math, coaches basketball and tennis, and lives in the dorms at boarding school Milford Prep Academy. Here he experiences one of his most formative relationships as “Harris” takes him under his wing and mentors him in arithmetic/number theory and teaching math. After visiting the extensive homes of his privileged students, where a single room might fit his family’s whole apartment, he brings students to his own home. They express a sense of wonder at the experience of love and hospitality present there.
1956-1959 Brockton High School Mathematics teacher and assistant basketball coach
1959 Is hired as Canton High School Head of the Math Department beginning a 59-year run at his beloved home of the Bulldogs. Develops his own innovative curricula, classroom innovations and personal style encouraging robust engagement with the material, reaching for one’s full potential, team commitment, supportive peer engagement, and leadership responsibility among class members and across classes on his math team. Students were “kept on their toes” as they were asked to bring their absolute best. Mistakes were part of learning. Creative approaches were encouraged. A supportive environment was demanded. From the get-go, Mr. Badoian’s math teams had equal gender representation, and Mr. Badoian was deeply committed to the full inclusion of students who were different in any way. He was always available for help after school.
1953 Marty takes up the game of golf, and eventually becomes a member of Brockton and then Sharon Country Clubs. As a Brockton Club officer, including President, he organizes inter-city tournaments--in one case an annual tournament that honors a departed friend and CHS colleague, Ralph Masciarelli.
1963 Marries Linda Collins, a fellow Canton teacher he meets while teaching her professional learning class on the “New Math.” She impresses him with her grasp of set theory, which she will later report was the only time she impressed anyone with her mathematical skill.
1961-1966 Coaches tennis at CHS
1965-1972 Coaches Basketball at Canton High School. Reportedly, people would attend games to watch Coach Badoian’s enthusiastic side-court performance as much as his team’s on-court performance. One former player remembers the season began with two weeks of running the court, without even touching a ball. Layers of socks were a necessity. Coach Badoian also participated in exhibition games—appearing in a dress on court to beat his own highly-performing team with fellow teachers and playing against the trick-performing team The Magicians, where he got a traveling call for comically running with a ball shoved up the back of his shirt.
1966 Begins the Canton High School Math Team while working with others to found team Math competition leagues: Greater Boston Math League (GBML) and Massachusetts Math League (MML). He writes competition math problems for these as well as the MAML, the Massachusetts state exam. Creates several successful fundraisers for college scholarships: selling food at the CHS football games and at a “coffee shop” before school, and running a concession stand at the Patriots’ stadium. Some funds are used after Math meets to celebrate as a team by going out together for dinner. With student volunteers he calculates golf handicaps for local clubs. All funds raised go to scholarships for those students.
1965 Peter J. and 1967 Leslie are born.
1972-1978 Teacher and Mathematics Curricular Developer at summer Upward Bound program for “economically deprived youths and their parents,” held at Brandeis University.
1977 Is Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. He is congratulated by Governor Dukakis and interviewed on a local PBS talk show.
1966 (through following decades) Mr. Badoian’s mid-sized school Math team competes in the large-school division and wins the State and New England Championships three years in a row. The Canton High Math Team’s green takes on a Celtics flair as it becomes the legendary team to beat. In lieu of banners hanging in the rafters, a large trophy case overflows at the entrance to the Math Department’s Building C. Mr. Badoian’s commanding presence in his signature green sports coat (worn for Math meets) becomes legendary among math competitors across New England.
Participates in associations of Math teachers, offering lectures and presentations, and continues his professional development alongside teaching classes at local colleges. He writes math problems for New England and national Math competitions.
Oversees the CHS Math department as a community of teachers having what could be described as a family atmosphere (with a presiding patriarch). The Building C teacher’s room was known for kidding, and raucous laughter would be periodically heard down the hallway. Donuts and bagels were brought every morning as a Math Team fundraiser, but breakfast or a pizza party would be offered gratis when there was a need for a morale boost. A newbies-welcome golf tournament would round out the year. His reviews were notoriously conscious-raising and hit to the heart, but his teachers knew he would go to the mat to support them professionally and personally. He would ask after concerns in people’s lives and was generous toward money pools for a wedding or baby gift, making sure there was enough.
1984 Receives the Presidential Award for excellence in Science and Mathematics teaching (Massachusetts). He is flown to Washington DC and finds himself enthusiastically shaking Ronald Reagan’s hand on way to a helicopter, despite being a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. He reports he got caught up in the moment.
1976-1988 Directs CHS Summer School
1975-1977 Coaches Peter in Middle-School Basketball and Baseball, and Peter and Leslie’s Hershey Track Teams that qualifies runners for the National competition. He begins a Middle School basketball traveling team in the Hockomock League.
Hosts the men’s Sunday morning Bible study in his living room, enthusiastically inviting young men to participate, which is around the corner from Sharon Evangelical Baptist Church (now Hope Church) where he attends. Members talk about this as formative time of being able to share honestly about their lives.
1975-1987 Sharon School Committee member, periodically chairman
Helps found ARML, as Vice President and coach of the Eastern Massachusetts team, now a national competition. Writes problems for National Math Counts competitions
2004 Mr. Badoian “retires,” and his colleagues throw him a well-attended party. A CHS wing is named after him commemorating his 50 years as a Math teacher—a wing in which he continues as a teacher of his usual three classes and Math Team seminar and as Math Team coach. Despite issues with hearing and a bit of “slowing down” from his usual break-neck pace, Mr. Badoian continues teaching classes, as “young ‘un” teachers retire at the usual time. He keeps doing what he most loves doing, as his wife Linda, colleagues, students, their parents, and administrators offer the support and flexibility that allows him to continue on as a local living legend—continuing to produce students more than ready for top college math courses and math teams competing at a highly competitive level.
May 2018 Mr. Badoian misses school for the first time in his life due to being unwell as he is diagnosed with cancer. (His family thinks he only missed school for three emergency surgical procedures—after which he would direct class content from his hospital bed in the ICU.)
September, 2018 Battling cancer, Marty finally stops teaching his three classes while maintaining his role as Math Team seminar teacher and coach.
October 27, 2018 Martin J. Badoian passes peacefully at home, having spent his last days visited by friends, family, and former and current math team students--and watching the Red Sox work their way to the World Series.
In the mid-80s, Mr. Badoian, despite not liking to “toot his own horn,” bites the bullet to apply for a Presidential award that would confer money for his program. In it is the following poem and reflection:
“This learned I from the shadow of a tree,
That to and fro did sway against a wall,
Our shadow selves, our influence, may fall
Where we ourselves can never be.
--Anne. E. Hamilton
“I believe teachers are best judged and viewed by the accomplishments of those they have influenced in and out of the classroom. … The kind of statement I cherish most from my students is articulated in the following excerpt from a note I received from one of this year’s graduates. ‘Your work outside the class has to be one of the greatest role models for me to mold after. I don’t think my four years at CHS would have been anywhere near as challenging, interesting, or unforgettable if you had not been there. My only hope is my brother has the great fortune of having you. Thank you again for everything.”
A number of former students become teachers themselves, some even on the Canton High faculty.
Memorial Service celebrating the life of Martin J. Badoian
Light refreshments following the service
November 3, 2:00 pm
First Congregational Church of Sharon
29 N Main St, Sharon, MA 02067
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to:
Please reserve the circular drive for drop offs.
In addition to street parking, there are public lots:
Next to/behind First Congregational Church (across from the Library)
Between the Library and behind the downtown row of stores (access on Main St. to the right of the Library)
Across from the Post Office next to the Church
At the Sharon Police and Fire Museum on Main Street
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
CHS Math Team Booster Club
Canton HS, 900 Washington St., Canton MA 02021
Attn: Don Devoid