Alhassan Susso

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New York State's 2019 Teacher of the Year


Alhassan has been the “Most Admired and Inspirational Teacher” in his school for the last three years.
Alhassan Susso is an educator, author and speaker who has devoted his career to transforming the lives of young people facing difficulties. An immigrant from West Africa, Alhassan came to America as a poor teenager coping with a rare eye disease with gradual vision loss which he still copes with as a teacher.

Living with this obstacle, Alhassan seeks to expand the worldview of young minds through the development of essential life skills necessary to succeed academically, socially, professionally and economically.

He is the author of a motivational memoir, The Light of Darkness: The Story of the Griots' Son, which traces his journey to America as a nearly blind teenager and his trials and triumphs becoming American, while maintaining his deep African roots. This book is now being used in several schools in the U.S. to teach a variety of topics including immigration, overcoming adversities, practicing compassion etc. It also enables teachers to effectively implement his strategies in teaching new immigrant students in their schools.

Alhassan is the Founder and Director of the Inspiring Teens’ Future program at the International Community High School. The Inspiring Teens' Future (ITF) program provides students with the social and emotional development skills necessary to succeed academically, socially, professionally and economically. The program is built on five essential skills: Mindset and Emotional Mastery, Vision Setting, Interpersonal Communications, Leadership, and Financial Management. This program has taken his school from a 31% graduation rate to 81.2% within 5 years.

Alhassan is the 2019 New York State Teacher of the Year. He was also named in 2017 as one of "The Top 50 Outstanding Educators in the World" by the Varkey Foundation's Global Teacher Prize. He is the recipient of the Africa Daylight Award and the United Federation Teachers’ Andrew Chasen Award. He was recognized by the Dutchess County Legislature, The Bronx Borough President, the New York City Mayor’s Office and the New York State Comptroller as the Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 2019. He was awarded the 2019 Cultural Innovator Award by Long Island University. He received the Outstanding Educator Award by Mercy College and the United Federation Teachers’ Immigrant Educator Award. He is a two-time recipient of the Social-Emotional Learning Innovation Award for Teachers by Education First through the Rockefeller Foundation.

He has spoken at numerous venues and events including The United Nations, Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, New York State Association of Teacher Educators Conference, Mercy College, Syracuse University, Bard College, Google for Education, New York State School Board Association Annual Conference, New York State Parent Teacher Association Conference, and St. John’s University in Minnesota.

Through his Inspiring Teens' Future program, Alhassan has worked with and transformed the lives of over 1000 youths. He trains and speaks on a variety of topics including: Developing the Right Mindset and Attitude for Success, Turning Adversity into Opportunity, Development of a Clear and Compelling Vision for the Future, Creating Teacher Leaders, Relationship-Based Approaches to Teaching, Pivot: Rethinking the Purpose of Education, Maslow before Bloom, Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning with Academic work, Relationship: The Difference Maker, Dealing with Difficult Students, Equity and empowerment in the Classroom, and Creating a joyful Classroom.

Alhassan graduated with honors from the University of Vermont, and received his Masters of Arts in Teaching from Bard College. He currently teaches Government, Economics and Personal Development at the International Community High School in the South Bronx in New York City.