Lehman Graduates Receive Sloan Awards for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching

Patricia Pena Carty

Two of Lehman’s most outstanding young alumni recently were presented with the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics. The Lehman grads, Joseph Boateng Danquah II and Patricia Pena Carty, were among the award’s eleven 2015 recipients. Danequah teaches math at Bard High School Early College in Manhattan and Pena Carty is a respected science teacher who teaches sophomore biology, AP Biology and Genetics at University Heights High School (UHHS) in the Bronx. Danequah received his M.S.Ed from Lehman in 2007 and Pena Carty earned an M.S.Ed in education leadership from Lehman in 2014.

At the awards ceremony held in December, Danquah was recognized for his “creativity in the classroom and ability to inspire students to pursue careers in mathematics and science.” He is currently teaching a class called “College Mathematics Seminar,” a course designed as an introduction to mathematical thinking and the concept of mathematical proof. Before coming to Bard High School Early College in 2014, Danquah taught at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx for nine years.

Joseph Danquah

He regards Serigne Gningue, an associate professor and coordinator of the Graduate Program in Math Education and Melvyn Nathanson, a professor of mathematics, as the most influential and passionate teachers he had at Lehman. “Nathanson’s ability to teach mathematics through storytelling made the driest material interesting and his classes particularly interesting for me,” Danequah recalled. “I can say he’s the reason I employ storytelling in my teaching. Gningue was just an excellent educator. He had already accomplished everything I was setting out to do and he availed himself to me at every turn of my time at Lehman College. Gningue has been a friend and a mentor.”

Pena Carty has taught at UHHS  since 2006. “I think I was chosen because I am willing to provide my students with innovative approaches in the exploration of science,” she said about winning the Sloan Award. “I am willing to step far outside the box of traditional test prep and have my students engage in a science community in which they learn to view themselves and others as contributors to the greater science community, by engaging in original research.”

At UHHS, her students have explored topics that touch on social justice, investigating issues like poor air quality and high childhood asthma rates in the South Bronx. Her students developed an air quality investigation protocol in collaboration with Julian Rondon, a Rutgers University scientist and with the Scientist-in Residence Program funded by the NYC Department of Education.

Pena Carty credits three Lehman School of Education professors as particularly influential in her professional development; Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Program Coordinator Janet DeSimone, Assistant Professor Rosa Rivera-McCutchen and Adjunct Assistant Professor Peter Kaufman.

“The program is masterfully designed to set the foundation by examining ethical constructs and design school visions and missions,” Pena Carty said about the Lehman program. The methods of teacher evaluation helped me strengthen my teaching practice. I am grateful to all of my professors who challenged me to grow my practice and thinking in countless ways.”

According to DeSimone, Pena Carty “personified leadership through integrity, wisdom and a sort of quiet grace. Patricia has dedicated herself—and her work—to closing the numerous gaps that exist in our urban schools today. She is committed to making sure that each student who crosses her path has an equitable opportunity to learn and achieve.”

Both Carty and Danquah express hope that their students want to continue exploring the subjects introduced in their classes and to inspire a greater love and learning that lasts a lifetime. “My ultimate goal as an educator is to inspire students to be passionate about their own education,” Danequah said. “My hope, as students graduate from my classes, is that as James Acheson puts it, they see mathematics as full of ‘Wonderful theorems with beautiful proofs and great applications’.”