Teacher Education Professor Scores Big Grant

Dr. Leslie Keiler, an assistant professor in York College’s Department of Teacher Education, recently received a nearly $1 million grant to create a program called the Robert Noyce Mathematics and Science Teachers (MaST) Scholars Program at York College.

According to Dr. Keiler, the bulk of the grant is designated for scholarships for student teaching for Science and Mathematics majors in the Adolescent Teacher Education Program.

The remainder of the funds, she says, will support various experiences for these Teacher Education students, including expanded field experience, research in science and mathematics teaching and learning at the secondary level, and travel to conferences.

When the MaST Scholars graduate and begin teaching, they will participate in professional development funded by the grant.
    “One of the major challenges for York Teacher Education students is that they cannot work full time while student teaching,” said Keiler. “This grant program will allow students who may not have been able to afford to support themselves and their families during student teaching, to complete the program and become highly qualified teachers.”

Dr. Keiler explained that the proposal was submitted in cooperation with four of York’s sister CUNY Colleges -- Bronx Community College, Borough of Manhattan Community College as well as LaGuardia and Queensborough Community Colleges -- in order to facilitate their students applying to the program and transferring to York.

“This program will be a powerful recruitment tool,” said Keiler, who reports that diligence made the difference in getting the grant.

    “Ultimate success with this grant program required a great deal of time and persistence,” said Keiler. “We applied for the first time in 2007 and then again in 2008. Both times we received very positive reviews, but were not funded. With each application, we incorporated the recommendations and considered the critiques from the previous reviews.”

Keiler, who has published impressively, came to York in 2006, armed with a succession of four degrees: A.B. in Human Biology and M.S in Biological Sciences (both) from Stanford University; M.S. in Secondary Science Education from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a Ph.D. in Educational Studies from the University of Oxford. She approached the application process like any seasoned scholar would.

“I spoke to colleagues across the city who had been successful in receiving funding,” she said. “[And I] attended a National Science Foundation (NSF) training session to get further insight into what made a successful application.”

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed and York College Provost Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith expressed his delight in the successful outcome of Keiler’s efforts.

“Leslie’s grant is evidence of both what counts and what can be counted, said Dr. Griffith, in a nod to one of his favorite quotes from Albert Einstein. “And it’s another indication of the pursuit of research excellence that benefits her, our students, and the college. “I look forward to notable outcomes that push the envelope of knowledge and service in this crucial area.”

    Asked what advice she would give to colleagues pursuing their own grants, Keiler responded that, “persistence is vital to success.”

“Listen to what the granting agency wants and then be true to what you want to create within that framework,” she said. “Don't listen to anyone who thinks (faculty at) York can't do it!”

“Yes we can!” seconds, the provost, in response.

Dr. Keiler who, in her still-young career, is a prolific off-campus presenter of her scholarship; she has also participated in the (York College) Provost Lecture Series, developed by Dr. Griffith.

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