Raising the Bar for Educators of English Language Learners

TESOL Faculty, Students, and Alumni Celebrate New Leadership Positions, Awards, and Research

May 03, 2021

Faculty, students, and alumni in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Program at Touro College are raising the bar for excellence in bilingual education and English as a New Language (ENL) within the state of New York. Two Touro faculty members were recently elected to leadership positions for the New York State TESOL Association, a Touro TESOL alumnae was recognized as the Bilingual Teacher of the Year by the New York State Association for Bilingual Education (NYSABE), and a Touro TESOL student’s research published for the TESOL International Association. Here are the details:

Jasmin CowinSpotlight on TESOL Faculty: Jasmin B. Cowin, Ed.D.

Dr. Jasmin Cowin, assistant professor and TESOL practicum coordinator for TESOL and Bilingual Programs at the Touro College Graduate School of Education, was elected 2021 vice president and conference chair for the New York State TESOL Association. A Fulbright Scholar, Cowin is an advisor on digital learning to the National University of Science and Technology Linguistics Department in Moscow. She served as chair of the Rotary Club of New York (RCNY) United Nations International Breakfast Meetings 2019- June 2021, Past Assistant District Governor 2018-2019, District 7230, Area 5, and as past president of the RCNY. She advises Computers for Schools Burundi as a global impact and sustainability analyst and participates as a teacher trainer through webinars.\ 

In addition, she initiated the Jasmin Bey Cowin TESOL teacher training grant in Yemen which is considered the Arab world’s poorest nation. A total of 20 aspiring TESOL teachers will be trained tuition-free through the grant at the Future Horizons Foundation for Translation, Training, and Development, a TESOL training institute in Sana'a, Yemen. The first cycle of training with Cowin as a virtual co-trainer is in progress as of May 2021, with the second cycle scheduled for a September 2021 completion.  

Ching Ching LinSpotlight on TESOL Faculty: Ching Ching Lin, Ed.D.

As an educator in the TESOL and Bilingual Education program at Touro, Dr. Ching Ching Lin recently became 2021 president-elect of the New York State TESOL Association. She has more than 15 years of experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Her most recent research interests mainly focus on engaging diversity as a strategic action plan for social change. 


TESOL Student Spotlights

Antonia Torres GearityAntonia Torres-Gearity

Antonia Torres-Gearity (g22) was honored as the recipient of the Dr. Ximena E. Zate Bilingual Teacher of the Year Award by NYSABE in March 2020. The purpose of this award is to recognize the excellent work and contributions of current bilingual education teachers throughout New York State. The award recipients are exceptionally skillful and dedicated teachers who are respected and admired by students, parents, and colleagues, and possess the superior ability to inspire his/her students to attain academic excellence, to become bilingual and bi-literate, and to seek a path toward lifelong learning. Torres-Gearity currently serves as the Dual Language Teacher at Front Street Elementary School in the Hempstead Union Free School District. She received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with extensions for Bilingual and Special Education and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education/ Students with Disabilities (Birth-Grade 2) from Touro College. She holds certifications in Bilingual Education, Special Education, Childhood Education 1-6, and Early Childhood Education 1-6.

Farishta MohammadFarishta Mohammad

As an ENL educator, Farishta Mohammad (g21) aspires to create student-centered environments in which students work toward a common goal of self-directed learning. Creating a sense of self-awareness in students and giving them the tools to analyze information, situations, and events is at the core of her teaching philosophy. Mohammad’s research article entitled, “How Important Are Cross-Linguistic Similarities and Differences in Bilingual Acquisition,” published in the December 2020 issue of the TESOL International Association newsletter. The publication explores theoretical and personal perspectives on how students learn languages and factors that influence the learning process. The article also addresses the similarities and differences in language and their impact in bilingual acquisition. 

Olga DeJesusTouro TESOL Grant Program Builds Teacher Pipeline

Touro’s TESOL program is a recipient of the Clinically Rich Intensive Teacher Institute (CR ITI) grant sponsored by the New York State Education Department. The initiative provides English Language Learners (ELLs) and Multilingual Learners (MLs) with highly qualified and certified teachers in the areas of bilingual education and ENL and is designed to close the teacher shortage gap within the discipline. Eligible TESOL students in the graduate program at Touro receive funds to assist with tuition costs towards obtaining a state-issued Bilingual Education Extension and/or English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Certification.

“It's a five-year grant, and we are going to start cohort three,” said Dr. Olga DeJesus, program chair of the TESOL and Bilingual Advanced Certificate Programs. “We have already completed two cycles.” DeJesus outlined the TESOL program goals as 1) to grow enrollment, 2) to increase the supply of TESOL teachers to fill the shortage gap for service providers of bilingual services in New York, and 3) to provide financial assistance for TESOL teacher candidates to become prepared and enter the workforce expeditiously.

Situated in the center of New York City, Touro’s TESOL student population is diverse by nature, which offers greater opportunities to more effectively teach and communicate the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in PK-12 classrooms. “It is an infused experience because the students bring to us the diversity firsthand, which has helped us, faculty, to embrace diversity and make conscience decisions in our program improvements,” DeJesus said. “For example, our curriculum is on par with the current needs of the diverse population that we're serving, not just the teacher candidate, but also the PK-12 students that they are going to impact. We refresh our curriculum and look closely at our assignments, our standards, and our candidates’ learning outcomes to ensure they are appropriate.”