By: Patricia Peña Carty
BC ’02, Science Teacher, Chair and Assistant Principal at University Heights High School
Ed. Note: Patricia is one of only seven teachers to be recently honored with a Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics by the Fund for the City of New York. A 2002 Berkeley Carroll graduate, Patricia shares some of her story and how Berkeley Carroll helped get her to where she is today. Read more about her and the award on the Daily News website.
I got into teaching when I was recruited by Teach for America during my senior year at Georgetown University. Although I was all set to attend dental school, the calling to join AmeriCorps and devote myself to educating and mentoring deserving youngsters attending public schools grew into my newfound passion. I was so fortunate to receive a rich and life-altering education at Berkeley Carroll, and I was determined to become a teacher that could bring private school quality education into public schools. Every day that I would awake and ready myself to attend BC, I was filled with joy and excitement, and each classroom I would enter transported me to a new dimension of discovery, inquiry and adventure. My educators and mentors respected me as an individual learner, celebrated my successes and talents, and I was challenged to grow in so many ways.
It is only just that students attending NYC public schools are afforded a tantamount opportunity to be engaged and inspired to greatness. Teach for America did a fantastic job mentoring me and placing me in a school, and I consequently never left my placement school. I fell in love with University Heights High School, a vibrant community that cares for the whole child, much as BC is committed to doing with every student that is mentors to excellence. The school moved into a new building while I have been on staff, and is now located in the South Bronx. I am currently serving as Assistant Principal, Chair of the Science Department, Co-Programmer, and am of course still teaching science. I additionally reside in the Bronx with my husband, Franchi, two sons, Evan (3) and Zachary (1), and grandfather, Fred.
Being awarded the Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science, from the Fund for the City of New York and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, has been an incredibly unexpected honor. I truly see it as an honor for the entire University Heights High School community, who has supported me as I have grown my craft, and for the students who have faithfully engaged in the learning experiences I have crafted for them. I also am filled with gratitude for the BC educators who inspired me to be a caring and fully dedicated educator, open to innovation, and who respects my students enough to challenge them to reach for greatness.
In particular, Erika Drezner, who still wholeheartedly serves the BC community, exemplified the kind of teacher I wish to emulate. She took me under her wing in those last few years of high school, and gave me the confidence and support I needed to make the final push to attend college, when I would be the first in my immediate family to attend and graduate from an institution of higher education. I am forever grateful for the incredibly positive impact that she has had in my life, and I hope that I too can embody this type of catalyst in the lives of the fantastic students that I serve. This award motivates me to continue awakening a love for science in students, mentor new dedicated educators, and serve my community in increasingly rich and meaningful ways.