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NIC Spotlight: Patty Zabel

  • Posted by Marley Arechiga
  • On July 6, 2018

While on vacation many ask themselves “why don’t I just move here?” but after doing the calculus of what such a life change would cost, reality sets in and many folks reluctantly head back to the grind. Patty Zabel, assistant professor of mathematics at Onondaga Community College, is one of the few brave people who made a dreamy Maui vacation her home.

“I sold my Mustang for $5,000, bought a plane ticket, three nights at a hotel, and rental car,” she said.

Once there, the west Texas native quickly gained a couple of restaurant jobs and within a few months, was hired as a high school math teacher at Lahainaluna High School, a public high school with a boarding program that houses some of its students.

During her tenure at Lahainaluna, Zabel continued to moonlight as a waitress and hostess, schmoozing with customers who might have computers to donate to her students. One lucky day, she met a man who had a whopping 20 computers to spare. Not so lucky: her campus wasn’t wired for the internet, and therefore couldn’t accept the computers. Together, staff and parents fundraised and even spent evenings and weekends digging the line to wire their campus.

“I knew at that time that tech was important,” she said.

After that experience, she earned a master’s in instructional technology from Boise State University while teaching. During her eight years in Hawaii, Zabel also met her husband and had two children (she joked that her students got them together). The family then moved to Syracuse, her husband’s hometown, in 2008 and in 2010 she became an adjunct at Onondaga Community College.

With some encouragement from her department chair to teach full-time, Zabel accepted a an assistant professorship at Onondaga in 2016. She taught her first Quantway class in the fall of 2017.

“The students just love it so much because they can apply it to their lives,” she said, adding that she recently ran into a friend at a local Lowe’s, who after not having taken a math class in over 18 years, said she was enrolled in Quantway and loved it.   

Zabel said that “after they get over the shock of working in groups, (students) enjoy how they can relate to the materials.”

Today, Zabel is working toward a master’s in math from Emporia State University. Her family has grown to six, with four children ages 6, 9, 11 and 12. She also serves as the NYSMATYC Professional Development Chair, where she coordinates conferences, and is both a mentee and mentor to other math faculty across the country as part of the AMATYC Project ACCCESS initiative.

Zabel is also part of the Pathways Online Committee and the Fundamentals arm of the Curriculum Committee. As part of the Fundamentals committee, Zabel writes and reviews lessons that are vital to bolstering students’ proficiency in the prerequisite mathematical skills and understanding, such as basic arithmetic, needed for success in the Pathways. in Manchester. The ground was originally designed with a capacity of 100,000 spectators and featured seating in the south stand under cover, while the remaining three stands wereft as terraces and uncovered

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