I AM ATE: Sarah Belknap

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A headshot of mathematics instructor Sarah Belknap

ATE Central continues our "I Am ATE" series, which showcases an ATE PI, staff member, industry partner, or other ATE stakeholder.

We are excited to help spread the word about the wonderful people who are at the core of the ATE community and the innovative work everyone is doing.

Name: Sarah Belknap     
Title: Professor of Mathematics     
Institution: Westchester Community College 
Project/Center Name: HSI ATE Hub 2: Professional Development for Culturally Responsive Technician Education
URL: https://ate.community/hsiatehub

Tell us about the goals of your project or center.

This faculty development project is guiding educators in translating and applying theory and research on culturally responsive education to implement effective practices that are guided by knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes to improve the diversity of the STEM technical workforce. Cultural responsiveness validates, affirms and acknowledges students’ diverse heritages.

What are some of the most valuable partnerships you've engaged in as part of your work?

We work with the Center for Broadening Participation in STEM ant Arizona State University and Florence Darlington Technical College's ATE-funded Mentor Connect project. This team has been invaluable in helping us shape professional development that really works for the average community college instructor. We can take some well researched and high level concepts and translate them into practices that make impacts in the day to day experiences of students in the classroom.

Could you share a bit about how you've collaborated with others?

Our whole project is about engaging instructors and grant professionals in the space to put together what really works. My favorite part is the community of practice we have created at WCC where faculty participants talk about what techniques are working in the class, and develop and share resources. 

Do you have a favorite student success stories you’d like to share?

I share with my students that I am a proud community college alum and that I worked full time while attending community college. After sharing this with my students a student stayed after class to ask me how he could possibly balance his demanding work schedule with the rigors of study in an Engineering program. We talked for a long time and I was able to just really validate where he was coming from and how hard it can be. We talked about doing homework on the bus and finding time at work (on lunch breaks and such) to study. He ended up earning an A in my class, and I will have him in the fall in the next course in the sequence.


What changes do you see in the future of your field?

It is a very exciting time to teach mathematics - there are so many tools for bringing applied problems into the classroom. I hope that the future contains more project based learning and inquiry approaches! 

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