Teacher Education Honors Academy is Gold Standard

Dr. Jane Coffee (foreground) with Teacher Education Honors Academy students

The Teacher Education Honors Academy (TEHA) is one of the flagship programs at the College of Staten Island. This exceptional program is quickly becoming one of the marquee education programs in New York City.   

Labeled the “Gold Standard” by local high school principals, Dr. Jane Coffee, the Director of the TEHA, likens the program to a med school residency with the students learning both a major discipline at CSI and receiving “hands-on” classroom experience in local Staten Island middle and high schools. All of the Students accepted into the program are Math, Chemistry, Biology, or Physics majors.

The students spend the first seven semesters in the program working among six host schools until the eighth semester, when they choose one school where they will student teach. By the end of their “residency” the TEHA students are “well versed in the culture of the school,” according to Dr. Coffee. 

In order to be accepted into the program, students must be well-rounded with grades somewhere in the high 80s to low 90s as well as have high Math and Science Regent scores. Students who graduate from the TEHA do so in their major, as well as receive New York State certification. Accepted students also receive priority registration at CSI and are guaranteed to graduate in four years. “There is no waste,” Dr. Coffee said. “Students don’t take the wrong course.”

Of the 32 students currently enrolled in the program, 26 are Math majors and their desire to perfect their craft is evident during off-hours between classes when the students can be found untangling calculus problems on the TEHA’s state-of-the art Smart Board. Teachers who come out of CSI’s TEHA are well-versed in their major, are up-to-date with all of the latest equipment, and have all stood in front of a classroom before the end of their first semester–all dynamic attributes that will make them very competitive as they apply for jobs in Staten Island schools. 

TEHA’s objective is to place every one of their students in a Staten Island high school or middle school which, for the most part, means reintroducing these former Staten Island high school students back as teachers.

“My goal is to recruit excellent students and turn them into excellent teachers, so when their students then enroll in CSI, there will be less remediation,” said Dr. Coffee, who added, “Our students are learning from the best.”

Along with the five Presidential scholarships committed by CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales, the TEHA has also been awarded a National Science Foundation Robert Noyce grant worth over $800,000 and a grant from the Harcourt Foundation, which supports seven students for three years. The Presidential scholarships are applicable to entering students while the Noyce scholarship is awarded to juniors and seniors. 

CSI’s TEHA began as a part of CUNY-wide program entitled the Teacher Academy in 2006 when it was also offered by Brooklyn, Hunter, Queens, City, and Lehman Colleges.

Students Enlist in National Latino Oral History Project

Rodolfo Rivera and Érika Valdez participated in the StoryCorps Historias project last week.

Students of Hispanic descent at the College of Staten Island had the rare opportunity to participate in the StoryCorps Historias project last week.

The project, according to a StoryCorps statement “is a groundbreaking initiative in partnership with the Latino Public Radio Consortium, Latino USA, and the U.S. Latino and Latina World War II Oral History Project, to record and preserve the diverse stories and life experiences of Latinos in the United States.”

Last Thursday, nine CSI students had the chance to interview their relatives and fellow classmates for the project. The overall attitude from the participants was one of enthusiasm and pride.

Érika Valdez, a junior who is double-majoring in Spanish and English, said, “It was fun. I honestly enjoyed it.” 

Érika interviewed Rodolfo Rivera, a senior who is also a double-major in Spanish and English. He walked over the U.S. border over 20 years ago with a ninth-grade education and no clear plans for the future. Since then, he worked to get his documents, go back to school, and become a pastor on Staten Island. He eventually hopes to become a teacher “to give back whatever I can.”

Érika shared her feelings regarding the importance of her interview with Rodolfo. “I believe it’s important because there are many others standing in [Rodolfo’s] shoes who don’t have the ability to succeed, and he has mastered it. He serves as an example that although you are an immigrant and many might discriminate against you, you are no different than anybody else.”

Rodolfo agreed with Érika, when discussing his take on participating in the project. “I feel privileged because I’m being the voice of many who may never have the chance to voice their opinions.”

Kelyn Potes, a sophomore Spanish major, interviewed her father, Ramiro, who came to the United States from Colombia. She also appreciated the experience because “we get to speak about our experiences and let other people know about them.”

Constance Vélez, a junior who is majoring in Spanish, stressed the social significance of the project for the Hispanic community and beyond. “It’s a great way to show others the way we view each other and how, sometimes, we criticize each other instead of actually being able to understand one another–where we come from, what we do with our lives, and how we grew up, based on what we learned.”

The StoryCorps Historias project at CSI was coordinated by Dr. Sarah Pollack, an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the College. Dr. Pollack reported that “Gabriel Higuera, the Senior Coordinator of the Historias project within StoryCorps contacted CSI Anthropology Professor Ismael García-Colón because his research includes interviewing Hispanic migrant workers…Ismael, in turn, contacted a couple of us who have been involved in the creation of the Certificate in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latina/o Studies (CLACLS). He did not have time to pursue the project, but I was very interested in following through and involving the students from my SPN 455 class (Contemporary Latin American Novel).”

Students in Dr. Pollack’s SPN 455 class have been examining Latin American fiction written during the last 15 years that explores the current state of politics, history, and social issues in the region. Several of these works are based on testimonials and the final novel they read focuses on immigration to the U.S.

In addition, Dr. Pollack noted that “the students in SPN 455 are all of Hispanic background, either the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. They come from Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. The opportunity to record their own stories or to interview someone seemed to complement perfectly the material we were studying. I asked students from the class if either they would be interested in being interviewed or knew someone they would like to interview, whose story otherwise might not get told.”

Now that this initial StoryCorps project has concluded, Dr. Pollack commented that other CSI students have expressed interest in doing interviews. She will be working with StoryCorps to see if the College of Staten Island can become a community partner. She added, “The opportunity to tell one’s story for posterity is empowering. Having a public record of the experiences and lives of Staten Island’s Hispanic population is a way for a more inclusive story of New York City to be told. This is a project that speaks to our diverse backgrounds, struggles, and accomplishments – all things that should be celebrated.”

For more information visit the StoryCorps Historias Website.

Grad Student Participates in KASF Panel

Leo Song, a graduate student studying Physical Therapy at the College of Staten Island, recently participated in a postgraduate and career strategy panel hosted by the Northeastern Chapter of the Korea American Scholarship Foundation.

Leo Song recently participated in a panel hosted by the Northeastern Chapter of the KASF.

“I felt proud to represent the CUNY Graduate Center/CSI,” Song said. “Although CSI is not a private school, I wanted to show to the community that anyone can receive a world-class education in a CUNY institution without breaking the bank, especially during this [difficult] economic time.”

According to a KASF statement, the goal of the panel was “to create a public forum to engage a broader audience in the New York metropolitan area…[providing] productive dialog amongst the panelists to share their reflection and advice regarding graduate school studies and professional careers.”

The panel, moderated by Soojin S. Oh, a Doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was divided into two sections. The first consisted of KASF scholarship recipients, who are studying law, physical therapy, social work, and education, discussing how their commitment to and participation in community and civic service impacted all aspects of their graduate school experience, from the application process, through graduate studies, to their career goals.

Students from Columbia and Harvard universities also participated in this portion of the panel.

Section two of the panel featured KASF Board members William Y. Kim, JD, Partner, Ropes & Gray; and Dan Pyo, Physician, MD, Plastic Surgery Center of New Jersey, who offered their professional insights regarding career choices in medicine and law, as well as their commitment to serve not only the Korean American population but the community at large.

According to the KASF statement, the organization was “founded in 1969 as a nation-wide, non-profit, and volunteer-managed organization [and] seeks to provide financial assistance to those Korean American students in higher education who have demonstrated rigorous academic and personal achievement and strong commitment to community and civic service in developing their leadership skills.”

As for Song, he hopes to further his community-minded efforts, once he graduates. “My plan after graduation is to help people as a physical therapist,” he noted. “As of now, I am not sure which physical therapy setting I’d be working in. However, no matter where I end up, I will always strive to pursue excellence and reach the pinnacle of my field.”

Education Program Reaccredited until 2017

The College of Staten Island's Education program has received reaccreditation through 2017.

The Unit Accreditation Board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has approved the continuing accreditation of the College of Staten Island’s Education program.  

The reaccreditation process involved examining the standards for the Education program at CSI such as faculty qualifications, unit governance, and field experiences and clinical practices. The NCATE passed CSI in all areas involved and awarded CSI’s Education program with an unqualified reaccreditation.  

“CSI has met the highest professional standards,” said David Bloomfield, the Chair of the Education program, in a recent interview. “We’ve leapt the bar.” Although the reaccreditation is the result of a several-years-long effort headed by Professor Ken Gold, Bloomfield is determined to continue raising the proverbial bar by demonstrating “a foundation of excellence in teaching.”  

Looking toward the future, Bloomfield envisions the program building on this foundation by working with the Staten Island Foundation and other grantors through increased publications, program grants, and program improvement. 

CSI will “give students an experience consistent with New York State’s emphasis on clinically rich preparation, Bloomfield said. “We are the leaders in giving our students a diverse, quality field experience through student teaching, which is integrated throughout undergraduate and graduate study.”  

Bloomfield plans on blending the two “pillars” of teaching and scholarly excellence by “integrating the content knowledge of scholars that is geared toward the practical application.” CSI and CUNY are the leaders in offering field placements, with many students accepting placements in the CSI High School for International Studies

CSI’s emphasis on content plus practical application is what makes it one of the leaders in teacher education, placing its students in classrooms studying under master teachers. This blending of content-based training and practical application will give CSI’s student teachers a leg up in the field and this, of course, will “be better for the kids they teach,” said Bloomfield. 

NCATE currently accredits 623 institutions that produce two-thirds of the nation’s new teacher graduates each year. Ninety-nine institutions are candidates or pre-candidates for accreditation. 

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as a specialized accrediting body for schools, colleges, and departments of education. NCATE is composed of more than 30 professional and policymaker organizations representing millions of Americans committed to quality teaching. It was founded in 1954 by the teaching profession and the states. NCATE continues its mission today: the profession and the states working together for excellence in teacher preparation and development.

Nursing Program Reaccredited until 2018

L-R: CSI Alumni Association President Vullnet Kolari, Kaltrina Kolari, and Nursing Chair Mary O'Donnell
The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, Inc. (NLNAC) Board of Commissioners has approved the continuing accreditation of the College of Staten Island’s Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Nursing for the maximum eight-year reaccreditation.

The NLNAC reviews programs throughout the country based on a set of national standards specific to nursing programs at a variety of higher education levels. The BS program faculty were required to write a self-study of the congruency of CSI’s program to those described in the national standards. This translates to basically how the program “measures up” and how effectively the department is implementing its curriculum and coursework.

Mary O’Donnell, Chair of the Nursing Department commented, “The criteria include qualifications of faculty and staff, quality of curriculum, institutional support for the curriculum and program, student outcomes, and student policies and services. These criteria are key factors that determine whether or not your program is reaccredited.” Dr. O’Donnell said, “It’s an excellent process of ongoing self-study and assists faculty to ensure that the program is as strong as possible.

CSI’s BS program in Nursing is a Registered Nurse (RN) to BS program, which means that those with RN licensure can build on their basic education and obtain the BS degree. The Nursing BS program has approximately 185 students enrolled. It is a growing program and helps prepare students for today’s health care environment

The Department also has an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) program and graduate programs in Nursing that were most recently reaccredited by the NLNAC in 2007. There are approximately 375 students enrolled in the AAS program, which is also a respected program in the community. The pass rate on the New York State licensure examination for CSI AAS graduates is currently at 90%, which is above the State average. “We encourage all our Associate degree students to continue on to earn their Bachelor’s degrees, and most of our students do so while they begin work in the hospitals of Staten Island and Brooklyn,” added O’Donnell.

The graduate programs include Master’s of Science (MS) in Adult Health and Gerontological Nursing for advanced practice nurses, as well as a Research Doctorate (Doctorate in Nursing Science [DNS]) offered at the CUNY Graduate Center. The DNS program is a consortium in which CSI participates with Hunter and Lehman Colleges. The Nursing Department also has several advanced certificate programs.

The Nursing program recently received a $100,000 grant from the Brooklyn Home For Aged Men to establish a simulation lab designed to address the needs of older adults in the homecare and assisted living environments. Some of its features include the use of the newest technologies in care, such as telehealth monitoring to track vital statistics remotely. The new lab will expand upon the previously established high- and low-fidelity simulation labs within the Nursing Department.

“This reaccreditation reflects the hard work of our faculty, and their diligence,” commented O’Donnell, adding “We are well blessed with high-performing, dedicated students and highly qualified and motivated faculty. I look forward to continuing our mission of educating the next generation of health care professionals based upon the highest possible standards.”

Sharon J. Tanner, EdD, RN, and Chief Executive Officer at the NLNAC, wrote, in her congratulatory letter, “You and your faculty have demonstrated your commitment to the highest standards of nursing education. Your successful accreditation shows that your school does indeed meet these high standards. Congratulations on this outstanding achievement. We look forward to continued successes for your nursing program.”

College Launches Middle States Website

College of Staten Island President Dr. Tomás D. Morales
College of Staten Island President Dr. Tomás D. Morales
College of Staten Island President Dr. Tomás D. Morales

The College of Staten Island has recently launched its Middle States Reaccreditation 2011-2012 Website, which provides details of the College’s self-study design, process, and planning. 

Commenting on the Middle States reaccreditation process, CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales, says, “As the College’s Chief Executive Officer, I share in the enthusiasm, pride, and dedication that my colleagues across our campus have for this important milestone in the life of our institution.”

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is a non-governmental association that is dedicated to quality assurance and improvement through the process of accreditation via peer evaluation. To achieve this, Middle States requires that of each of its more than 520 member institutions periodically undertakes an intensive self-study and review by an external review team.

More than 130 members of CSI’s broad campus community are directly involved in the College’s reaccreditation process–an opportunity for retrospection, introspection, analysis, and renewal. With its special emphasis, entitled “Developing and Strengthening Assessment and Evidence-Based Decision Making to Continue Building Institutional Effectiveness,” the self-study design has already resulted in substantial discussion about student learning, integrity, transparency, processes, and planning.

CSI’s self-study design is also pluralistic, inclusive, and innovative, with its seven Working Groups, a matrix structure, advocate groups, and a Special Resource Committee.

“The timeline is ambitious,” Dr. Morales noted, “but we are well on our way and are prepared for the task. Our campus looks forward to hosting our Visiting Team in the spring of 2012.”

The President added, “I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to our self-study Co-Chairs, Dr. Susan L. Holak, Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Professor of Marketing, and Dr. Richard Gid Powers, Professor of History, for their leadership in this multi-year effort. I would also like to convey my gratitude to all our colleagues who are directly involved in working groups or committees, and to our extended campus community for supporting this important effort on the life of the College.”

CSI Launches New Italian Studies Major

The College of Staten Island (CSI) has launched a new Bachelor of Arts degree program in Italian Studies. The new undergraduate program was created to address the needs of the students and the Staten Island community. The degree has two distinct tracks: Italian Studies and a second track that includes NY State adolescence education certification.

Why Italian Studies at CSI?
Dr. Jane Marcus-Delgado, chair of Modern Languages at CSI states, “A major in Italian Studies is an important addition to the College’s curriculum, both for its academic significance and for its recognition of the importance of Italy and the Italian American community in our globalized society. This exciting new program goes beyond the study of Italian language and literature, providing an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses such areas as the history of Italy, its philosophy, architecture, art, culture, and politics.”

Most importantly, stresses Marcus-Delgado, Staten Island (Richmond County) is the county with the highest concentration of residents of Italian heritage in New York. Italy and Italian Americans are not only important globally, but have also played a critical role in creating the rich, unique, and vibrant culture of Staten Island. “Our Italian Studies major clearly recognizes the valuable relationships that have always existed among the community, the College, and CUNY and serves as an intellectual home for strengthening these ties,” she notes.

What can an Italian Studies student do after graduation?Many students will pursue a career in teaching Italian at the middle to high school level [GU1] . Others will benefit from taking Italian Studies as a second major, as it works particularly well in tandem with fields such as International Business, International Studies, Social Work, and Psychology, as well as other disciplines in the liberal arts.

“There are a lot of relevant jobs available for a graduate with this degree, ranging from teacher to museum curator to businessperson in imports and exports — from cars to food and wine and fashion,” comments Marcus-Delgado. She adds that some Italian language students have already completed internships, through other majors, in businesses that are either based in or do business with Italy.

The new Italian Studies major complements the Modern Languages Department’s dedication to providing a rich portfolio of courses and programs that embrace a multicultural world, having recently added Chinese and Arabic to its offerings in French, Spanish, and American Sign Language.

For more information about the Italian Studies Major at CSI, visit the CSI Undergraduate Catalog. You may also visit the Department of Modern Languages Website.

Two events celebrate Italian Heritage and the launch of the Italian Studies major
One event is a party and celebration on October 7 sponsored by the Campus Activities Board. It includes a WSIA DJ playing Italian and English language music, free gelato, and information tables hosted by the Department of Modern Languages, The Center for International Service, and the Career and Scholarship Center, and a raffle of Italian gifts. Students wishing to get CLUE credit can take a quiz on Italy after reviewing the informational posters made by the 400 CSI students currently enrolled in Italian.

The second celebratory event is “Celebrating Italian Culture” at the Tuscan Garden at Snug Harbor Cultural Center, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, on October 16, 2010.

Other events include a performance by DisCanto, a presentation by Distinguished Professor Dr. Fred Gardaphe of English and Italian American Studies at Queens College entitled “Is Moustache Pete Dead? The Power of Italian American Oral Tradition,” and a “Meet the Professors” information session. View the Italian Heritage Events calendar on CSI Today for a complete list of activities and event details.

By Carlo Alaimo