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September 18, 2018
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State Education Department Announces Bronx International Community High School Teacher Named 2019 Teacher of the Year

Hunter College Student Recipient of  2018 Marge A. Tierney Memorial Scholarship

Inspirational Teacher Has Overcome Eye Disease, Difficult Childhood to Devote Self to Changing Lives in the Classroom

The Board of Regents today named extraordinary educator Alhassan Susso of International Community High School in the Bronx as the 2019 New York State Teacher of the Year and awarded the 2018 Marge A. Tierney Memorial Scholarship to Samiha Tashneem, a graduate student at Hunter College, the City University of New York, the State Education Department announced today.

2019 Teacher of the Year

Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia presented Susso, a high school social studies teacher at International Community High School in the Bronx, with a certificate of recognition. Susso was also presented with the Thomas Sobol Award and the David Johnson Award, both created as annual gifts for recipients of the Teacher of the Year award.

“Alhassan Susso has overcome obstacles that might have forced other people to give up—emigrating to the United States at age 16 and living with a rare, degenerative eye disease—instead, he chose to devote his life to helping young people,” Chancellor Rosa said. “Every day, he focuses on making the school-community connection that is critical to educating the whole child. From being named one of the top 50 educators in the world, to now being the 2019 Teacher of the year, Alhassan has earned each of the prestigious awards he has received. I’m proud to honor this Bronx teacher as the Teacher of the Year.”

“Alhassan Susso has been an instrumental educator for the students at International Community High, dedicating his life to improving theirs,” Commissioner Elia said. “Using his personal journey and social and emotional lessons, he expands his students’ worldview so they can find meaning in their own lives and become leaders. I have said many times that it’s so important to raise up the teaching profession and Alhassan Susso lives that every day through his commitment to this noble calling. I know he will be an exceptional ambassador as Teacher of the Year.”

“Alhassan Susso exemplifies the dedication and passion of our 79,000 New York City teachers,” said New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Using the obstacles he’s overcome and lessons he’s learned in his own life, Alhassan has changed the trajectory of students’ lives and helped them pursue their dreams. I thank him for his extraordinary work and for bringing out the best in our children every single day.”

"Alhassan Susso's incredible life story and his unwavering commitment to his students at the International Community High School are an inspiration, and a reminder of the dedication, excellence and professionalism found in classrooms all across the state," said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. "Our profession is lifted by innovative educators like Mr. Susso, who, like his colleagues, are changing lives through their passion for teaching and learning."

"On behalf of the New York City Department of Education, I thank the Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department for creating this opportunity for teachers to be recognized,” New York City Superintendent of Affinity High Schools Kathy Rehfield- Pelles said. “I am so pleased that this teacher, and his school, have earned this honor. Mr. Susso is creative, relentless and tireless in his high expectations for students and in understanding how to meet their unique needs."

Susso, the 49th New York State Teacher of the Year, has been teaching at the International Community High School since 2012.

Susso, an immigrant from West Africa, lives in Poughkeepsie and commutes to the Bronx. He graduated with honors from the University of Vermont where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History. He earned his Master of Arts in Secondary Education with a specialization in History from Bard College. Susso holds a professional teaching certificate in 7-12 social studies.

In 2017, he was named one of “the Top 50 Outstanding Educators in the World” by the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize. He also received the 2017 Social-Emotional Learning Innovation Award for Teachers by Education First through the Rockefeller Foundation.

In the coming year, Susso will serve as an ambassador for teachers throughout the state and will be the New York State nominee for the National Teacher of the Year.

Finalists for the 2019 New York State Teacher of the Year are as follows:

  • Rachel Murat, a high school social studies teacher at Maine Endwell High School in Endwell; and
  • William H. Green, a high school chemistry teacher at Frederick Douglass Academy III in the Bronx.

The New York State Teacher of the Year Program is administered by the New York State Education Department and sponsored by New York State United Teachers (NYSUT); United Federation of Teachers (UFT); New York State Parents and Teachers Association (NYSPTA); New York State Association for School Curriculum Development (NYSASCD); New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA); School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS); New York State Association of Teacher Educators (NYSATE); New York Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (NYACTE); Voya Financial; the SMARTer Kids Foundation; SMART Technologies and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The program is run in conjunction with the National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by CCSSO.

2018 Marge A. Tierney Memorial Scholarship

The Board of Regents today awarded the 2018 Marge A. Tierney Memorial Scholarship to Samiha Tashneem, of the Bronx. Ms. Tashneem is a graduate student in the Rehabilitation Counseling program at Hunter College, The City University of New York.

“Through her ambitious standards of achievement and dedication to the field of vocational rehabilitation, Samiha Tashneem embodies what Marge Tierney stood for,” Chancellor Rosa said. “We are honored to present her with this scholarship, so she can continue to excel in her career.

“Samiha Tashneem is committed to providing support and encouragement to individuals with disabilities and to helping them become confident, active members of society,” Commissioner Elia said. “She is a deserving recipient of this award, and I know we can expect big things from her in the future.”

Tashneem completed her first semester at CUNY Hunter with a 4.0 GPA and has worked as a recreation therapist in a rehabilitation and nursing facility. Tashneem also worked as a senior administrative aide for Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, where she acted as a liaison to the Bangladeshi community. Her volunteer endeavors include establishing a recycling program and using it to raise money weekly for the Autism Awareness Fund. Tashneem is committed to sharing her knowledge about disability services and empowering others to take charge of their lives and function as full partners in the rehabilitation process.  

This scholarship was established in memory of Marge A. Tierney, a State Education Department employee whose career in vocational rehabilitation spanned 33 years.  Marge was a leader in the field of rehabilitation and a strong advocate for people with disabilities. Her career was dedicated to the development of quality services aimed at enhancing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Under Marge’s leadership as the Director of District Office Administration from 1999-2003, over 63,000 individuals with disabilities were placed in jobs. To honor Marge’s achievements and dedication, one student is selected each year to receive a scholarship to help defray the costs of tuition, books, and other college-related expenses. Recipients of the Marge A. Tierney Memorial Scholarship Award receive a citation and $1,000 check.