Samantha Haimowitz ’14 and Stephanie Palumbo ’14 had the privilege of being teachers before they even became teachers. Both CSI graduates participated in the College of Staten Island’s Teacher Education Honors Academy (TEHA), a selective program that allows CSI students to intern in middle and high school math and science classrooms, and offers full and partial scholarships. Both are full-time teachers as well as TEHA liaisons.
“I was employed as soon as I graduated, so I would call the program a success. I am not the only one who found a job as soon as we graduated either! Many of the TEHA graduates are my colleagues in the school where I work,” noted Palumbo, who is in her second year of teaching biology at New Dorp High School. The St. Peter’s Girls High School graduate also assists the department’s grade leader in developing the Living Environment program’s pacing calendar.
Coupled with a President’s Scholarship for their freshman year, Teacher Academy students achieve their degree tuition-free while getting to know the high school or middle school administrators through a comprehensive internship program.
Every TEHA graduate who has completed the NYCDOE application process has been hired at their desired school, and all of them are still teaching. Currently, there are 38 graduates of TEHA teaching in 19 different schools.
“The model has been very well respected by principals and assistant principals who hire the graduates. New Dorp High School has already hired more than five graduates,” Dr. Deirdre Armitage, Director of Fieldwork for the School of Education at CSI, noted. “The model is very popular, and it’s effective.”
In fact, administrators like New Dorp High School Principal Deidre DeAngelis have been so impressed with recent hires, that Teacher Academy alumni are playing a major role in such functions as realigning the school’s math curriculum to changes required by New York State and the Common Core standards, for example.
Feedback from the students at the High School has also been overwhelming positive, according to DeAngelis. “Some of their favorite teachers are the teachers that came out of the Academy. The kids respect them and they have confidence in them because they know they are fair and knowledgeable,” said DeAndelis, who is in her 17th year as principal at New Dorp.
Additionally, these CSI graduates are writing recommendation letters for the excellent students in their high school classes for acceptance into this honors program.
TEHA Director Dr. Jane Coffee, while inspired by its success and the success of its students, is hopeful that each year will see increased recruitment. “The Teacher’s Academy has been awarded more grant money for scholarships than we currently have candidates that are eligible to receive these scholarships. I encourage anyone interested in becoming a well-prepared STEM high school or middle school teacher to take advantage of the wonderful full scholarship opportunity available,” said Dr. Coffee.
The graduates confirm that Dr. Coffee and the Program coordinators are largely deserving of praise for the Program’s success.
“The Program Coordinators really deserve a shout out for all the hard work they do in ensuring we have all the classes we need each semester to stay on track,” said Palumbo, who received the Noyce Scholarship, which covered her junior- and senior-year tuition.
Haimowitz, in her second year of teaching math at New Dorp High School, appreciated the job training she received. “The program gave me a lot of opportunities to grow professionally, especially when hosting different professional development opportunities,” commented Haimowitz, a Wagner High School graduate and CSI Noyce Scholar.
Receiving a full Presidential Scholarship, Haimowitz is also a grade leader in the math department, which includes building the curriculum for one of the courses; she also serves as a TEHA liaison, helping to place student observers into classes.
The students also attended several SMART Board and technology workshops, went to a technology conference in Washington DC, worked at summer school through the Noyce Program, and taught in the Galapagos Islands through the TEHA program.
The Program has, indeed, often funded opportunities for international teaching as Armitage urges, “international experiences help teachers become better educators by promoting understanding of different ways of learning and different cultures.”
Armitage confirms that this intense fieldwork “allows the students to make sense of their early education courses in ways that other students might not be able to. It connects them to the field. This can solidify their decision to become a teacher, or, just as valuable, it may let them find that this isn’t the work they want to invest time in.”
DeAngelis also appreciates the collaboration and “open communication” between the high schools and the Program. “We are constantly looking at college classes, and they allow input and there is less of gap in what we need when we hire new teachers. That’s huge,” she commented.
For application and Program information, potential candidates can visit the TEHA Website.