Hostos Assistant Mathematics Professor, Anders Jason “A.J.” Stachelek

Developmental education sometimes requires a teaching “outside the box” approach. By offering real world examples to students who require more support, even technical subjects like mathematics can be absorbed more easily.

This technique is something Hostos Assistant Mathematics Professor, Anders Jason “A.J.” Stachelek, has embraced and having been fascinated with mathematics since childhood, and committed to community colleges for much of his career, Stachelek’s passion and expertise recently earned him a prestigious Project ACCCESS Fellowship from the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC).

Stachelek, who holds a B.S. in Mathematics from UMass-Amherst, graduate degrees in Statistics and Math Education from UMass and Columbia, respectively, as well as a Doctorate in Mathematics Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, said using practical examples promotes engagement, retention and reasoning.

For example, realizing many of his students in urban settings use the subway system more than automobiles, Stachelek adjusted his lessons accordingly. 

“When I teach algebra, I’ll formulate equations to contrast the pluses and minuses of purchasing a monthly MetroCard, as opposed to a pay-per-ride card,” Stachelek said. “Teaching at the community college level enables me to work with students who have life experiences that I can draw from when teaching mathematics. Such life experiences are crucial to my pedagorgy, as I focus on utliziing contexts that are relevant and real to my students.”

Project ACCCESS (Advancing Community College Careers: Education, Scholarship, and Service) is a mentoring and professional development initiative for two-year college mathematics faculty. The project's goal is to provide experiences that will help new faculty become more effective teachers and active members of the mathematical community.

As part of this fellowship, Stachelek will also attend the 41st AMATYC conference from November 18 to 22. There, he will join other educators at the “Jazz It Up Conference” in New Orleans. One of the main goals of the conference is to present the professional projects each Fellow will implement at their respective schools.

Professor Laura Watkins, a Project ACCCESS Coordinator, said the selection process was “intense,” and Stachelek joins a strong group of educators.

“Winning this opportunity to collaborate with other faculty in this space will greatly benefit students while providing an excellent venue for other colleges to learn about Hostos,” said Stachelek.

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.

Recently named one of the top 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 500,000 students at 24 colleges.