A Math Olympian
Published in TC Today - Volume 31, No. 1
George Lenchner. Ed.D, 1972
George Lenchner, Ed.D., 1972, an accomplished math teacher who founded Math Olympiads, an international organization sponsoring math competitions for middle and elementary schoolers, died in San Francisco last spring. He was 88.
Lenchner began his career as a musician, earning a master's degree from New York University in music and playing professionally as an accompanist to many Borscht Belt revues and comedy acts, including one featuring Moe Howard of the Three Stooges. He fought in World War II, was wounded on D-Day at Omaha Beach and spent more than a year in British and American hospitals. His military honors included a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Marksmanship Medal.
Lenchner became a math teacher in Brooklyn in 1950 and was later appointed Math Chairman of Long Island's Valley Stream North High School. In 1954 he founded the Nassau County Interscholastic Mathematics League--known as "Mathletes"--for high school students. He eventually earned an M.S. in Mathematics from Adelphi University and became Director of Mathematics for the Valley Stream School District before founding the Math Olympiads. He became the group's director in 1983.
He stayed on as Executive Director through 1995 and later served as a consultant and Executive Director Emeritus. The organization currently serves schools in 52 countries, including all 50 states and three U.S. territories.
Lenchner was the author of three Math Olympiads-related books and numerous math textbooks and articles. He was also a pioneer in the design and use of overhead projection graphics for teaching math. He was honored by Harvard University for Outstanding and Distinguished Secondary School Teaching and also received a National Science Foundation Fellowship, a Health Education and Welfare Department Fellowship, and many other awards.