News and Notes
Dear Colleagues,
I hope this school year is off to a great start in your classrooms and schools. To kick off this edition of News and Notes, I am pleased to introduce the 2019 New York State Teacher of the Year, Alhassan Susso. Susso, a high school social studies teacher at International Community High School in the Bronx, has overcome eye disease and a difficult childhood to devote himself to changing lives in the classroom. Congratulations, Mr. Susso!
In this edition of News and Notes, I also provide updates related to the following:
As always, thank you for all you do for the students of New York State.
Sincerely,
MaryEllen Elia
Commissioner
totyBronx International Community High School Teacher Named 2019 Teacher of the Year

Alhassan Susso

Congratulations to Alhassan Susso, the 2019 New York State Teacher of the Year. This week, 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.

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

The Board of Regents this week 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.
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.
earlyBoard of Regents Early Childhood Workgroup’s Blue Ribbon Committee Presents Final Recommendations

young children in classroom

At the Board of Regents meeting this week, Members of the Board of Regents Early Childhood Workgroup Blue Ribbon Committeepresented final recommendations to advance the overarching vision of transforming the birth to age eight early care and education system in New York State. The Committee’s recommendations aim to enhance the State’s existing programs and have three areas of focus: Comprehensive Services for Children and Families, Strengthening the Early Childhood Workforce, and Statewide Supports and Infrastructure.

essaNYSED Announces Proposed Changes to Every Student Succeeds Act Regulations

young student standing outside with backpack

Last week, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) proposed changes to regulations to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The proposed changes reflect stakeholder input and public feedback and were presented to the Board of Regents at its meeting on Monday, September 17. The public comment period on the proposed changes will begin October 3.

weaponsProhibition Against Using Title IV, Part A Funds for Firearms

Last week, Commissioner Elia sent a memo to school districts affirming the rights of all students in New York to attend school in a safe and secure environment that is free of weapons. The State Education Department will not allow local educational agencies to use Title IV, Part A funds – or any other federal or state funds – for the purposes of purchasing, storing, or training school staff in the use of firearms under any circumstances.
There is no place in our schools for weapons, no matter the intentions. See the previous statement from Board of Regents Chancellor Rosa and Commissioner Elia on federal funding for weapons.
opioidsEducating Students on the Dangers of Opioids and Synthetic Cannabinoids

The State Education Department partnered with Governor Cuomo, the New York State Department of Health and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to provide schools with vital information on the threat posed by opioids – including fentanyl, which is often hidden in other drugs – and synthetic cannabinoids.
As use of these drugs among young people in New York continues to rise, the agencies urge school districts to take action to address the ongoing crisis. Injection drug use among high school students doubled from 2005 to 2015 and in 2017, more than 6 percent of high schoolers reported having used synthetic cannabinoids.
As part of these ongoing efforts to raise awareness on the dangers of opioids, school districts received a letter detailing the risks, including death, associated with these drugs. The letter included free information and resources to help schools educate students on the dangers of opioids and synthetic cannabinoids.
opNYSED Launches Paths to the Professions Website

student imagining different professions

NYSED launched the Paths to the Professions website, a new site aimed at highlighting careers in the licensed professions. The website is a comprehensive tool that offers students, parents and educators an opportunity to learn more about obtaining a professional license.

Students will have access to explore over 50 professionsor select a category of interest:
In addition, students can find careers that match their interests using the “My Next Move” tool. Building on the O*NET® Interest Profiler from the U.S. Department of Labor, My Next Move suggests specific licensed professions that best fit a student’s personality profile.
In addition to licensed professions, the website provides access to a selection of career development programs that offer mentoring, scholarships, experiential learning, and curricular materials.
mtipNYSED Awards $2 Million to 25 Mentor Teacher Internship Programs

teacher and mentor

NYSED awarded $2 million annually in grants to 25 recipients to implement Mentor Teacher Internship Programs (MTIP). These programs enable experienced teachers in a district or BOCES to provide guidance and support to beginning teachers in their first or second year of teaching. The mentor and new teacher relationship will engage teachers in a productive experience designed to enhance educators’ skills and increase the likelihood of their remaining in the teaching profession. Funding for this initiative was approved by the Governor and Legislature in the 2017-2018 State budget. NYSED will award the grants beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

disasters$15.9 Million Awarded to 185 Districts to Assist With Educating Students Displaced by 2017 Natural Disasters

stduents walking in school hallway

NYSED recently awarded $15.9 million in grants to 185 school districts serving students displaced by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria or the 2017 California wildfires. The grants, authorized under the Federal Temporary Emergency Impact Aid for Displaced Students program, will assist with the educational costs of more than 3,000 students displaced by natural disasters and enrolled in New York schools in the 2017-18 school year. A list of the 185 schools receiving a grant award is available on NYSED’s website.

epipensBack-to-School Epinephrine Recommendations

epipen demonstration

The New York State Department of Health, the Office of Children and Family Services and the State Education Department are reminding New Yorkers who have children who rely on epinephrine to take steps to ensure they are prepared for the back-to-school season. Guidance was issued to health care, school health and child day care providers outlining steps that families can take to ensure they have access to epinephrine products.

To best meet the needs of students, schools are encouraged to ensure that they have appropriate personnel trained in the application of epinephrine products. Any schools that stock a supply of epinephrine, consistent with state law, are encouraged to do so responsibly and in accordance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state recommendations.
campusNational Campus Safety Awareness Month

smiling college students holding books and backpacks outside

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, and NYSED and the Board of Regents will continue to underscore the importance of standing by our students and defending their rights. Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and I recently released a statement rejecting any changes by the U.S. Department of Education on sexual misconduct on college and university campuses. This is the latest in a line of misguided and ill-conceived proposals by USDE.

New York has one of the strongest laws in the nation protecting students from sexual assault. The New York State Office of Campus Safetyprovides guidance to enhance the safety of college campuses.
visionNew York State School Vision Health Awareness Event

two smiling students wearing glasses

October will be School Vision Health Month in New York State. The New York State Education Department, the New York State Board of Regents, the New York State Optometric Association, and the New York State Society of Opticians continue to highlight the critical role proper vision plays in children’s physical, cognitive, and social development.

All New York State schools are encouraged to partner with local eye care professionals to assist students with obtaining complete eye examinations and eye glasses when needed.
Schools are also encouraged to promote eye health and safety during October. Please find school vision health resources on our School Health Services website.
canalState Museum to Open Second Phase of Erie Canal ExhibitionSeptember 22

Enterprising Waters_ New York_s Erie Canal exhibition poster

The New York State Museum will open the second and final phase of Enterprising Waters: New York’s Erie Canal on Saturday, September 22. On display through October 20, 2019, the exhibition honors the bicentennial anniversary of the Erie Canal’s construction and features artifacts, images, posters and documents from the collections of the State Museum, State Archives, State Library and cultural institutions from across the state. The first phase of the exhibition opened in September 2017 and focused on the circumstances leading up to building the canal and the canal’s construction. The second phase of the exhibition focuses on the Erie Canal’s growth, politics, industries and legacy.