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Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers, forming future leaders

Derek Kirk
Posted 4/19/24

HURLEYVILLE — Over 60 eighth graders from the Mid-Hudson Valley region spent the morning networking with other students, inquiring about several local colleges and getting to know the …

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Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers, forming future leaders


HURLEYVILLE — Over 60 eighth graders from the Mid-Hudson Valley region spent the morning networking with other students, inquiring about several local colleges and getting to know the non-profit, Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers (TSTT.)

TSTT was started 29 years ago by CEO and Founder Dr. Betty Perkins. Since then, the program has impacted the lives of hundreds of students all across the Mid-Hudson Valley region. 19 years ago, the middle school Student Leadership Movement (SLM) program entered the region in the Ellenville Central schools and has since expanded to three districts in Sullivan County.

Those districts gathered at the Hurleyville Performing Arts Centre (HPAC) on April 16 — which are Monticello, Fallsburg and Liberty. They were joined by Ellenville and Chester. 

The day’s activities included a college fair which included SUNY Sullivan and Sullivan County BOCES Career and Technical Education Center, getting to know each other through ice breakers, networking and a keynote presentation by Julian Dawson, Chief Professional Officer at United Way of Sullivan County. 

Dawson was said to have been selected to address the students because he exemplifies the Full Circle Method, a practice held closely by TSTT, in which the non-profit sticks with students who go on to receive higher education and pursue a career in teaching, who in turn utilize their experiences to recruit, train and mentor other Black and brown future educators in the program.

In addition to the SLM program, each district employs a Teacher Mentor who works with high school age students; in Sullivan County, they are as follows:



SLM coordinator — Ruth Meaker

Teacher Mentor —    Colleen Keaveney


SLM coordinator -—Brenda Rivera

Teacher Mentor — Elaine Burns


Currently, there is no SLM program at Liberty Middle School, and the Teacher Mentor at the High School is on maternity leave, but TSTT officials expressed hope in building up the middle school program for this upcoming Fall.

The TSTT Regional Manager of Sullivan County and a Fallsburg High School Alum, Shannon Daniel, highlighted the non-profits mission of elevating and promoting disadvantaged students, giving them the opportunity to network, receive training and mentorship as they look to enter into the workforce as future educators. 

Daniel said that there is currently a “teachers of color crisis,” with less than two percent of the five million teachers hired around the nation being African American or Hispanic. According to Daniel, teachers of color make up 18 percent of the educational workforce.

“There is such a shortage for teachers in general and there is a shortage for teachers of color,” Daniel explained. “Our statistics in Sullivan County show that our School districts are predominantly African American and Hispanic, but when students walk into their buildings, there are few teachers of color who look like them.”

“At-risk students say they do not function well in public schools because they do not connect with the teachers as they cannot relate to the walk of life.”


Leadership at work

Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers are also involved in a reading initiative where high school students visit elementary schools, stopping into three different Special Education classrooms. 

“It was a moving experience for the students to have the opportunity to work in a Special Education setting and observe the strategies the teachers use to engage their students,” Daniel said.


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