Alumni Souad Outarid Has Formula for Success

Souad Outarid is a teacher at Lavelle Prep.

Teacher, multi-scholarship recipient, Dean’s List member, community volunteer, immigrant, mother. These titles belong to one woman who has seemingly transcended any limitations an international student may impose. Teachers Education Honors Academy (TEHA) alumna Souad Outarid is passionate about all of the hats she wears in life. The Moroccan-born Mathematics major currently teaches at John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School, in addition to volunteering locally at the Staten Island Mental Health Department (where she assists elementary students with reading and math). Outarid also lends her time to the Distance Learning program at the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) Continuing Education Program where she tutors GED students and teaches Arabic to non-native Arabic students at the Al-Noor Islamic Society Sunday School.

As an undergraduate student, Outarid earned Dean’s List placement for consecutive years from 2007 to 2012, and was the recipient of the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, The Alfred Harcourt Foundation Scholarship, and the TEHA Scholarship. While all hold a high level of prestige, the Noyce Scholarship was particularly transformative for Outarid as it allowed her to participate in an international teaching internship in Vladimir, Russia. The scholarship program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science (including engineering and computer science) teachers. During the 2017 Spring Break, Outarid joined a group of Noyce alumni, led by Dr. Irina Lyublinskaya, to visit Vladimir State University (VlSU). The opportunity supports developing collaboration between the Pedagogical Institute of the Russian university and the Noyce Teacher Honors Academy at CSI. During this time, Outarid co-taught calculus lessons with another Noyce alum to tenth grade students and co-presented a master class to VlSU graduate students.

Outarid exhibited an eagerness to learn about Russian STEM education, which stood out to Dr. Lyublinskaya. However, her own personal story also resonated with the group leader. Dr. Lyublinskaya states, “While traveling together, I learned about her difficult childhood. She shared how much she values education and she is now giving the same opportunities to children she works with. Souad selected to work in a school where over 30% of students are students with special needs. This is a challenging environment for any teacher, especially new teachers. She has a passion to help all children to learn math…Souad is a teacher who puts her students’ needs first. She would spend hours trying to find a way to engage her students in learning mathematics and to build their confidence. She is a life-long learner who searches for new ways of teaching math.”

Souad Outarid sailing with her two sons in Marsa Matrouh, Egypt.

The Richmond native’s various mentors have also noted her dedication to academia as CSI Professor of Mathematics and TEHA Director Dr. Jane Coffee states, “Souad Outarid exemplifies the very best characteristics of a graduate of the Teacher Education Honors Academy. She was well-prepared in her undergraduate Mathematics major and graduated cum laude. Her grades in her education courses are evidence that she adapted well to the U. S. mathematics adolescence education program—something that was new to her.”

Professor Dr. Nelly Tournaki, Coordinator of the CSI Department of Educational Studies, as well as Urban Education at The Graduate Center, CUNY, also noted Outarid’s exemplary teaching as she adds, “As a CSI faculty and a Board member of the Lavelle school, I often visit classes at the school. Souad’s is a model class. I can attest to her excellent pedagogical skills, depth of content knowledge, and most of all, her professional disposition—she has a strong presence, is sincere, warm, compassionate, respectful, and therefore respected.”

While Outarid’s academic life has certainly been filled with major accomplishments, her story goes far beyond the classroom. After losing her mother at an early age, Outarid was raised by her grandfather and sister who instilled in her the importance of education, especially for a woman in the Middle East. This inspired the Mathematics major to pursue higher education, graduating in 2012 with her Bachelor’s degree and subsequently earning her Master’s degree in Adolescence Education, 7- 12 (Mathematics) in 2014. With this dedication to academia, it may not come as a surprise that Outarid was awarded “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” in 2017. With her eyes set on a Doctoral degree, one might wonder what the aspiring professor views as her biggest responsibility. Perhaps the answer sits directly in the classroom, as she remarks, “As an educator, I take my job very seriously, I love what I do, and I take pride in my work. My students and I have a mutual respect.”

This respect and dedication is what makes teachers like Souad Outarid life changers.



Teacher Education Honors Academy Students Change the World

Samantha Haimowitz '14, Dr. Deirdre Armitage, Dr. Jane Coffee, and Stephanie Palumbo '14

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.

“I love the program. The students come in with hands-on, practical knowledge, and we get to work with them while they are completing coursework, which is key,” said DeAngelis, explaining that these new hires participate on inquiry teams, sit beside teachers, help with assessments and rubrics, and analyze data. “They also come in with much higher level skill in terms of use of technology, which benefits teachers who don’t have that kind of background,” she added.

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.

Rising Stars: Bree Silverman ’16

Bree Silverman

Bree Silverman ’16: Major: Mathematics with a concentration in Secondary Education A Teacher Education Honors Academy and Dean’s List student, she is also a NOYCE scholar and an Alfred Harcourt recipient. A favorite aspect of CSI: “I am having a wonderful experience at CSI and I attribute that to the Teacher Education Honors Academy. Through this program, I received mentoring, a great education, and built wonderful friendships.” Future plans: After she receives her bachelor’s degree, she plans to pursue her Master’s in Math Education. To read more about CSI Alumni, check out Eye on CSI.

“Washington Monthly” Names CSI one of America’s Best-Bang-for-the-Buck Colleges

"Washington Monthly" has named CSI to its list of the nation's Best-Bang-for-the-Buck Colleges.

Washington Monthly, which publishes an annual rating of colleges throughout the U.S., has recently named the College of Staten Island as one of America’s Best-Bang-for-the-Buck Colleges. The article appears in the magazine’s September-October 2012 issue.

Providing some background for its ranking system, Washington Monthly notes that, in its opinion, other college rankings are often flawed because they tend to measure the level of prestige that institutions have, as opposed to how well they are serving their students. The article further notes that some of the higher-ranking colleges in other lists have often taken the focus off of traditional students in favor of higher-caliber recruits through an increase in admissions standards.

“We are proud that Washington Monthly has recognized the value of the high-quality education offered at the College of Staten Island,” said Dr. William J. Fritz, interim president of CSI. “This national honor is indicative of our renowned faculty, establishment of new national honor societies, construction of world-class residence halls, and the distinction of being ranked as a top military-friendly institution. The CSI community should indeed be proud of this tremendous achievement.”

In regard to these policies, the article explains, “The Washington Monthly has long believed that such behavior by colleges doesn’t serve the broader interests of the country, and that rewarding such behavior is wrong. And so the magazine designed its own ranking system to do the opposite: to rate colleges based on how well they perform with the students they have, regardless of the students’ backgrounds or SAT scores, on metrics that measure the widely shared national goals of increasing social mobility, producing research, and inspiring public service.”

As Washington Monthly ranked U.S. colleges this year, it took another aspect into account—“cost-effectiveness.” Using a measure called “cost-adjusted graduation rate,” which involves, according to the article, “the gap between the predicted and actual graduation rate of a school…divided… by the net price of attending that institution,” the magazine compiled a list of institutions that represented a good investment from the students’ perspective and CSI made the list.

The article notes that “As an urban, commuter institution, the College of Staten Island attracts a diverse group of students from the New York City metro area. Because of the difficulty in retaining commuter students, the college offers many programs to enrich students’ academic lives and provide incentives for them to stay invested in finishing their degree.” The article mentioned the SEEK program, designed for students who have the potential to succeed in college, but would benefit from enhanced academic support and financial assistance, and the three honors programs available to high-achieving students as examples of some of the exceptional value available to students at the College.

Commenting on CSI’s inclusion in this prestigious list, CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Jay Hershenson said, “It comes as no surprise that the high-quality academic programs and services available at CSI are widely perceived to be of great value, especially during these difficult economic times. Students and their families are very fortunate to have this jewel of a CUNY college in the crown of Staten Island.”

Read the full article online at


Harcourt Foundation Funds Future Teachers

Dr. Jane Coffee, Director of the Teacher Education Honors Academy at CSI and author of The Alfred Harcourt Foundation grant proposal.

This upcoming fall, three College of Staten Island Teacher Education Honors Academy (TEHA) students in their sophomore year will receive scholarships from The Alfred Harcourt Foundation.  These scholarships will be renewed each year for three years provided that the student(s) remain in good academic standing, and are making annual progress toward graduation in four years.

“The CSI TEHA is the only program of its type with this scholarship,” beamed Dr. Jane Coffee, TEHA Director, Professor of Mathematics at CSI, and writer of the Harcourt Foundation grant proposal. “Peter Jovanovich, the President of the Alfred Harcourt Foundation, likes to support students who want to give back, and that is what TEHA students do by design.”

Each of the three students will receive $7,000 per year, which will cover tuition, fees, books, and also help fund a mentoring program where the students can establish relationships with active teachers that can last throughout their college and perhaps professional careers. This is “a great program for establishing professional relationships early in their teaching careers,” said Coffee, commenting on the mentoring program.

Each year, there will be a new cohort of students, adding up to nine by the time this year’s cohort become seniors. The TEHA staff chooses which students are eligible to apply for the scholarship, based on the criteria laid out by the foundation, not the least of which is that students must be from “disadvantaged academic settings,” according to the Harcourt Foundation’s approval letter.

Dr. Coffee advises one more criterion for the students who apply for the scholarship. “Have an interesting story,” she said. “All of our students have interesting life stories. That is what makes them so special.”

The advantage to graduating from the TEHA is that while students receive invaluable training as teachers from their first semester in the TEHA, they also graduate with a degree in Math, Biology, Physics, or Chemistry. This means that should they change their minds about being teachers, they still have the skills to pursue other careers. “The purpose is to get the students jobs,” said Coffee.

Though the teacher hiring freeze has hurt many teaching candidates, Dr. Coffee is quick to point out that those who graduate from the CSI TEHA have a much better chance of landing a job at a Staten Island high school or middle school than those who do not. She was also quick to offer one last piece of advice to all students when it comes to the course of study in which they should major: “Find something you like, are good at, and can earn you a career.”

The bottom line is that students need to think about their careers much earlier than their parents did, and with the help of the Harcourt Foundation, the CSI TEHA prepares them for whatever obstacles may come their way.

CSI’s TEHA began several years ago under a different moniker, the CUNY Teacher Academy. When the CUNY Teacher Academy ended, CSI was the only college to continue the program, now as the Teacher Education Honors Academy.  “We want our students to graduate debt free and get jobs,” said Coffee, who worked with the program since its inception.

The Alfred Harcourt Foundation was started by Ellen Knowles Harcourt to honor her husband, one of the founding members of the publishing firm Harcourt Brace with the purpose of “enabling disadvantaged young people to attain an education that would lead to worthwhile work and credible citizenship.”

Teacher Education Honor Academy Students Teach in the Galapagos

Katherine Stone and Erica Zito were able to teach in the Galapagos Islands, thanks to the Teacher Education Honors Academy.

The Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, are home to some of the most extraordinary species in the world. For the past couple of years, a certain new species has been popping up on the archipelago—the CSI Teacher Education Honors Academy (TEHA) student.

This rare but extraordinary breed of student has been traveling to the Galapagos for two years now, spending 30 days at a time assistant teaching at La Escuela Tomas de Berlanga, a K-12 school situated in the highlands of Santa Cruz, one of the many islands that make up the Galapagos archipelago.

This past December, the CSI TEHA sent two students, Katherine Stone and Erica Zito, to the Galapagos for 30 days where they taught math and biology to the students of Tomas de Berlanga but learned to live away from the relatively safe confines of the CSI campus community.

On the island of Bartolome, Stone and Zito were able to experience the true magical essence of Galapagos. "The further away from the humans the more enchanting the Galapagos becomes," notes Zito.

“The Galapagos weren’t what we thought they would be,” said Zito, one of the TEHA students and a Brooklyn native. “It seems torn between conservation and tourism.”  Ms. Zito said the main reason for her participating in the program was, as a Biology major, “how could I not?  We were able to live what Charles Darwin experienced” approximately 150 years ago.

Stone, the other TEHA student and a Staten Island native, had never ventured too far without friends or family and was ready to take advantage of the exciting opportunity to visit the Galapagos. “This was the first time I left the country,” she said.

The collaboration between Tomas de Berlanga and CSI began several years ago when CSI Professor of Education Dr. Susan Sullivan and her colleague and friend, Sheila Roberts, the newly appointed and first-ever bilingual director of Tomas de Berlanga, received funding to send two students to the Galapagos on an assistant teaching grant. Dr. Sullivan’s dream of one day making this a yearly grant seems to be becoming a reality with the Harcourt Foundation providing funding for Zito and Stone.

Stone and Zito's students enjoy one of their outdoor classes.

The two students traveled to Santa Cruz in December to begin month-long stints as student teachers to the approximately 120 students that make up the school’s classes, which were all held outdoors with the ages of the students varying significantly. Both CSI students have some background in Spanish but were quick to realize how accommodating their students and fellow teachers were. “The students and teachers were so helpful,”  Zito said.

“Math is a little easier to teach if you’re not fluent in the language,” said Stone, who taught seventh-, eighth, and ninth-grade math in Spanish as well as a beginner’s English class.  Zito taught tenth-grade biology and advanced English and also tended the community garden.

Katie and Erica's last night on Galapagos surrounded by all the amazing friends they made during their time on Galapagos. Everyone enjoying one last "cono double chocolate" before saying goodbye. Bottom from left: Andrew, Andrea, Dani, Nick, Daemon. Top from left: Erica, Ivan, Mari, Celsey, Katie.

It wasn’t all work for the TEHA student teachers, as they spent much of their free time exploring their surroundings and getting to know each other. Although the young women were nearly strangers at the outset of the trip, they soon became fast friends. “Being around Erica really helped me get over my homesickness,” admitted Stone. The two went snorkeling with white tip reef sharks and even went on a tour of the Ecuadorian President’s house in Quito. For Zito, the highlight of the trip was spotting Daphne Major, an island made famous by the research on finches performed by Peter and Rosemary Grant. “I can’t wait to bring this experience to my students in the States,” she said.

Stone and Zito also had time to enjoy the beauty of the Islands.

Both students are using the experiences that they had in the Galapagos as a stepping-off point in their careers as teachers in the U.S.  Stone, who is teaching trigonometry at CSI High School for International Studies, said that her main reason for making the trip was that she “wanted to see how school systems work in other countries.”

Zito, who is currently teaching ninth-grade living environment at Curtis High School, is still struck by the amount of social interaction she had with her students in the Galapagos. “My students taught me a lot.”

“One of the perks of being a member of the TEHA is this trip to the Galapagos,” said Dr. Jane Coffee, Professor of Mathematics and Director of the TEHA. “But one of the perks of visiting the Galapagos is taking home all of those incredible experiences.”

[gallery] Top Scholars Recognized at Fourth Annual Honors Convocation

Brian Kateman
Brian Kateman
Brian Kateman (left) addresses the audience. President Morales, right.

The College of Staten Island honored its top students, with the help of their friends and families, last night at the fourth annual Honors Convocation, which was held in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall. The event’s emcee was Dr. A. Ramona Brown, CSI Vice President for Student Affairs.

View the CSI Today Photo Gallery.

College President Dr. Tomas D. Morales, in his greetings to the attendees, emphasized the transformation of CSI students, and of the College itself, “You are graduating during a period of remarkable transformation at the College of Staten Island. This academic year, a new mission statement was developed by the College that will guide our great institution for the next five years. Central to our new mission is our uncompromising and absolute commitment to student success and achievement, which will continue to elevate our College. As students graduating with honors, each and every one of you represents this ongoing transformation of the College of Staten Island as an outstanding public institution of higher education. And for that, I applaud you.”

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After greetings from CSI Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. William Fritz, the Class of 2011 Salutatorian Brian Kateman, who will be receiving a BS in Biology, gave the student address.

In his remarks, Kateman shared his philosophy of life, stating, “The truth is this: life is beyond total control. As a scientist, this has been the most difficult lesson for me to learn. Thankfully, through wonderful mentorship from the CSI faculty, I now know that success and happiness stems not from defining and designing our lives but from having the belief in ourselves to cope with its vicissitudes and capricious nature.”

Following the student address, Carol Brower, Director of Student Life, presented the Student Dolphin Awards to Michael Maslankowski and Jolanta Smulski. (They will receive the actual awards at the Dolphin Award ceremony following Commencement.)

In addition, Dr. Ann Lubrano, Acting Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Programs presented certificates of completion for the Melissa Riggio Program.  Christine Flynn Saulnier, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Dr. Alfred Levine, Interim Dean of Science and Technology, presented the Academic Honors and Student Service Leadership Awards.

Dr. A. Ramona Brown chaired the Honors Convocation committee and was the presiding officer.

NASA Offers CSI Junior “One Giant Leap for Mankind” at Student Airborne Research Program this Summer

The waters of Monterey Bay appeared a deep blue from two miles up during a 2010 Student Airborne Research Program flight by NASA's DC-8 flying science laboratory. ©June 29, 2010, Jane Peterson/NSERC. Used here with permission.

It can be said that many students are reaching for the stars as they pursue their degrees, but in the case of CSI Junior Daniel Kurzweil, that phrase is just a little more apropos.

Daniel is one of only 30 students selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to participate in its Student Airborne Research Program (SARP). The six-week summer program allows students to acquire hands-on research experience in all aspects of a scientific campaign using NASA’s DC-8 airborne science laboratory.

Daniel Kurzweil
Daniel Kurzweil

“I am very happy to be offered this once in a lifetime opportunity,” commented Daniel. “I cannot thank my professors enough for their mentorship and guidance, especially Dr. Alexander for pushing me to apply for this program.”

Majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Education, Daniel is a leader in the Teacher Education Honors Academy at CSI. As an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys hiking, he is looking forward to performing hands-on fieldwork in the three general research areas: atmospheric chemistry, evapotranspiration from agricultural crops in California, and ocean biology along the California coast.

“The DC-8 is a major NASA resource for studying Earth system processes, calibration/validation of space-borne observations, and prototyping instruments for possible satellite missions,” said DC-8 Project Manager Frank Cutler. “Participants will assist in the operation of instruments onboard the DC-8 to sample atmospheric chemicals, and to image land and water surfaces in multiple spectral bands.” SARP is managed by the National Suborbital Education and Research Center.”

According to Daniel, his interests are well-suited to the program.

“I was taking a lot of Geology courses just for fun,” he recalls. “My Geology professors, Dr. Jane Alexander and Dr. Alan Benimoff, suggested that I pursue an Earth Science teaching certification, in addition to the Math certification.”

“Daniel is one of the most dedicated, brightest and outstanding students that I have ever met,” commented Dr. Benimoff.  Benimoff, whose 2004 mineral discovery is part of the collections of the New York State Museum and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, added that “during the spring 2010 semester he enrolled in my graduate Soils and Geohydrology course. As a term project he built a stream table to investigate the flow of meandering streams, and earned a grade of A. He did all this while taking 21 other credits.”

Once Daniel completes his degree at CSI, he hopes to teach Math and Earth Science at a New York City high school.

The summer program, now in its third year, will take place in Southern California at the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale.