2019 Teacher of the Year:
Alhassan Susso has devoted his career to transforming the lives of young people facing difficulties. He teaches Social Studies and Personal Development at the International Community High School in the South Bronx. His students, who are recent immigrants, live in the poorest congressional district in the United States.
At the age of 16, Susso immigrated to the United States from West Africa with a degenerative eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa. Coping with gradual vision loss, Susso strives to use his personal experiences to teach his students to regard their challenges as reasons to succeed.
He is the author of a motivational memoir, The Light of Darkness: The Story of the Griots' Son. This book is being used in several schools to help teach new immigrant students.
Susso developed a Personal Development Curriculum, which helped raise his school’s History Regents scores by 40% in its first year of inception in 2014. One hundred percent of the students in the program have graduated from high school. Every year, Susso welcomes 20-30 teachers in his classroom to share strategies on effectively teaching English Language Learning (ELL) students.
He partnered with Peace December to engage law enforcement, community members and students in reducing violence in schools. Susso and his students worked with the Sauti Yetu Center to create a nine-part education video series to decrease teenage pregnancy.
Susso was named as one of the “Top 50 Outstanding Educators in the World” by the Varkey Foundation. He is a two-time recipient of the Social and Emotional Learning Innovation Award for Teachers. Susso holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from the University of Vermont and a Master of Arts in Teaching History from Bard College.