Have you ever visited somewhere and said, “It would be nice to live here someday?” Patty Zabel said it and did it. “I grew up in West Texas which is straight, flat desert. I went on vacation to Hawaii and said, ‘I just have to live here.’” So she did.
Zabel moved to Hawaii without a job. She started working in restaurants with the goal of becoming a teacher. She applied for teaching jobs and shortly after the school year started got a call from a local high school. She interviewed on a Friday and by Monday was teaching math.
She would spend eight years in Hawaii. During that time, she met the man who would become her husband and they started a family. In 2008 they moved to Central New York where her husband was from.
Zabel began substitute teaching in area high schools as she and her husband added two more children to their family. In 2010, Zabel became an adjunct math professor at OCC. A couple of years later she started taking her masters in math online from Emporia State University, working late into the night once her house was quiet. By 2016 she was an assistant professor at OCC.
The subject matter Zabel teaches each semester changes. This semester it’s algebra and calculus. Outside class she serves the campus community as a member of the Academic Technology Coordinating Committee, the Open Educational Resources Committee and the Scholastic Standards Committee.
Zabel is making contributions to her profession on both statewide and national levels. She’s a board member with the New York State Math Association of Two Year Colleges (known in the higher education community as “NYSMATYC”). She is also working with the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) on Project ACCCESS, a mentoring and professional development initiative for faculty. The project’s goal is to provide experiences that will help new faculty become more effective teachers and active members of the broader mathematical community.
Why is she so involved outside of class, especially when one considers the demands of raising four children? “It’s important to be part of the larger community and see how the whole college works. I also think it’s important to get to know your students and learn how you can help them.”