Young Teacher Enjoying Fruits of York Training

Kathleen Robbins' love of nature led her to York College in 2008 for a major in Geology and Earth Science. Now she is passing on that passion to another generation as a high school Earth Science and Astronomy teacher.

After graduating from York in 2011, Robbins took what she had learned at the college from mentors such as Dr. Stanley Schleifer (Geology) and Dr. Leslie Keiler (Teacher Education) and along with personal experiences, she was career-ready.

"I've always loved rocks and landscapes and had volunteered with youth groups for a long time," said Robbins. "I felt like it was time to combine the two.  York has the two majors I was interested in but also, the people I met were influential in making my decision.  When I called then visited York, I felt they took an interest like I wasn't just a body to fill a seat."

Robbins' decision to attend York was fruitful.

"Dr. Schleifer was very influential for my science education.  He's a big believer in learning in the field/hands on learning," said Robbins. “There's only so much geology you can learn in a classroom before you have to get out and experience it.  My other mentor is Dr. Leslie Keiler She's really good at helping students understand the structure teachers need to have in place in order to be effective teachers.  I still keep in touch with both of these professors and seek their advice. In fact, I was able to go on the trip through Dr. Keiler's Robert Noyce National Science Foundation (NSF) grant."

Dr. Schleifer remembers Robbins fondly too.

"Kathy Robbins was always a superior student," said Schleifer. "What I remember most is her love of field work and outdoor activities in general. She loves to hike, camp, and explore old mines and caves. She is very enthusiastic about fishing [too]. I remember eating some delicious trout that she caught on one of our field trips. She has excellent communication skills and the heart of a teacher. Her students are lucky to have her."

If Robbins' journey to York was deliberate, it was also circuitous. Born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, she "bounced around" between Maryland, Delaware and New Hampshire during her formative years and graduated from Delmar High School in a "very small town on the border of Maryland and Delaware."

But the small town could not contain the young woman forever. The lure of New York beckoned and Robbins followed.

"I couldn't wait to get out of the small town and come to the big city," said Robbins, who now lives in Astoria, Queens.

Asked how she's enjoying her young career, Robbins was decisive in her response.

"Love it!" she responded. "It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the rewards are the best. I am definitely more of a hands-on and group interaction kind of teacher."

And she continues learning about her subject area. Robbins recently attended the American Astronomical Society's 223rd conference in Washington, D.C. and took her Harry S. Truman High School students along – at least virtually. They participated via Skype from their school in the Bronx.

She was also delighted to see "someone from home" when she encountered York Astronomy professor Timothy Paglione at the conference. Dr. Paglione is the current chair of the Department of Earth and Physical Sciences.

Robbins starts graduate school this semester at New York Institute of Technology, where she will earn her master’s degree in Environmental Technology.

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