Six NJCU Students Selected to Join the NJCU Teacher Training Program; One Student Selected as Lead Trainee

Six NJCU Students Selected to Join the NJCU Teacher Training Program; One Student Selected as Lead Trainee

New Jersey City University, in conjunction with University Academy Charter High School (UACHS) and M.E.T.S. Charter School, both in Jersey City, have selected six new students to serve as Teacher Trainees, joining ten returning students in the NJCU Teacher Training Program.


The program began in Fall 2015 at UACHS and expanded to METS in Spring 2016. NJCU teacher trainees work as classroom aides, assisting the school teachers with everything from classroom management and group instruction to grading and lesson development. The trainees are paid $17 per hour for their work at the two partner schools. NJCU students also receive 2 co-op credits per semester for their work.


Mona Elmilligy, of Bayonne, is a senior majoring in math, with a 3.93 GPA. She brings extensive prior experience with teaching to her role as well as fluency in Arabic. Mahmoud Awawdeh is a junior majoring in secondary math education. From North Bergen, he has a 3.48 GPA and looks forward to the ways in which the program will help him “learn about the inner workings of classroom education.” Both Elmilligy and Awawdeh will be working at METS.


Kelly Sweeney, a junior from Bayonne majoring in secondary social studies education and history, holds a 3.67 GPA. Sweeney has “been inspired by countless teachers and their dedication to seeing students succeed’ and looks forward learning “more about classroom management, tutoring, and assisting with assessments.” Sweeney will be joined at UACHS by Lyndhurst resident, Maria Soto, a sophomore majoring in secondary math education with a 3.89 GPA. Also a secondary math student, Rodney Guzman, from West New York, is a junior and also a member of the America Reads Program, and he traces his interest in education back to his participation in the Tomorrow’s Teacher Program at Memorial High School in West New York. Finally, junior Neslie Lopez, from Jersey City with a 3.8 GPA, will round out the new teacher trainees at UACHS. Lopez is majoring in biology and minoring in psychology, and the NJCU Teacher Training Program will allow her to explore her interest in education.


NJCU supervisors meet monthly with all trainees for professional development sessions in which trainees discuss brief readings and reading responses based on issues and challenges they are encountering in the field. The supervisors also meet regularly with faculty and administrative staff at the partner schools and hold training sessions for faculty who will be working with the teacher trainees. John Gurbisz will be helping to lead the professional development sessions for trainees, in his new capacity as lead trainee. Gurbisz, a graduate of Rowan University and a native of Bayonne, is pursuing a second BA in English and Master’s in Teaching in secondary English education. Gurbisz has a 4.0 GPA and has been part of the NJCU Teacher Training Program since its inception in September 2015.


In addition to their work in the classroom, the teacher trainees at UACHS run an after-school mentoring program. In Fall 2016, they led a full-day mentoring event for a group of 20 UACHS 9-12 graders on the NJCU campus. Events for the day included talks (OSP, Athletics, Admissions, Campus Life) and model lessons (music and bio). The UACHS mentors meet twice a month with their younger peers, and they are planning a spring trip to the Museum of Natural History.


The teacher trainees at METS run an after-school tutoring program. Three times a week, they offer extra help for METS students in a positive and encouraging environment.


NJCU graduate and METS Teacher and Trainee Coordinator, Cassandra Casella (January ’14), explains how beneficial the program has been for her students: “The teacher trainee has a fantastic relationship with my students. Recently, she had to call out for finals and the students did not stop asking for her every day. They wanted to make sure Ms. G [one of the NJCU teacher trainees]. was coming back. They look forward to working with her and her help in the classroom has been a phenomenal experience for them and myself.”


For questions or more information about this program, please reach out to Professor Audrey Fisch at New Jersey City University, 201-200-2221,