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For math faculty member Dan McCartney, whose unexpected death in January 2020 stunned the Rivers community, “Find the Good” was more than a motto—it was the embodiment of his attitude toward teaching and toward life. Countless students, colleagues, and Rivers families were enriched by Dan’s positivity, energy, and passion for teaching.

For more than a year now, key community members have worked closely with the McCartney family—Dan’s wife, Angela, and their three children, Stephanie ’08, Joe ’15, and Jackie—to create a fitting tribute to his larger-than-life contributions and to keep his spirit alive for future generations of teachers and students.

That work will come to fruition this fall with the launch of the McCartney Scholars Program. The formation of the program was announced in January 2021, and since then more than $1 million has been raised to get the program off the ground.

According to math teacher Victoria Mizzi, who will serve as the inaugural advisor for the program, up to six students with a demonstrated passion for and facility with math will be selected this fall to be the first McCartney Scholars. Any rising junior or senior will be eligible to apply for the honor of being named a McCartney Scholar. Ultimately, the successful candidates will be students who demonstrate a passion for learning, strength in mathematics, confidence, tenacity, composure, enthusiasm, ability to work on a team, analytical skills, and generosity of spirit.

The essence of the program will lie in close faculty mentoring and advising, as members of the math department work with the scholars to engage their minds, skills, and hearts around new opportunities and new thinking. The math faculty will create special coursework for the scholars, provide exposure to practical knowledge, structure individual mentorships with alumni and members of the Rivers community, and oversee student-directed coursework and problem-solving projects.

Crucially, too, the program requires scholars to give back through applying their passion for math to real-world challenges. Among other program elements, McCartney Scholars will

  • Generate enthusiasm for math by showcasing their special coursework and by mentoring peers and younger students;

  • Engage our community in dialogue around how mathematics can be used to solve complex problems;

  • Engage in the iterative process of real-world problem solving by addressing, through their mathematical skills, a specific challenge that affects our Rivers community or the world beyond it;

  • Model our community culture of curiosity, innovation, strong work ethic, professionalism, and academic excellence that inspires young students and distinguishes our school.

“I'm really excited to get started with this program,” says Mizzi. “Dan was a mentor to me and I watched him have a positive impact on so many students and teachers alike. This program keeps his memory alive and continues his legacy of making math accessible and relevant.”


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