Simeen Tabatabai, B.A. '99, M.S. '03
Whether she’s sharing a piece of her own writing as a model or playing a piece of music to pique her students’ interest in an upcoming text, Simeen Tabatabai consistently finds a way to engage her students in the process of reading – and learning. Simeen is a fifth grade reading teacher in the North Colonie School District where she brings a wealth of experience to her quest to help her students reach their full potential.
Simeen first started teaching in Nigeria and then was a private ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor in the Middle East from 1982 to 1991. She taught ESL in a girl’s private school before moving to the United States, where she has taught for the past decade. “Simeen inspires and supports her students to engage thoughtfully and deeply as readers, writers, thinkers and citizens,” said Peter Johnston, chair of the University at Albany’s Reading Department. Her literacy instruction includes a range of pedagogical practices including multi-disciplinary units, guided reading lessons, technology integration, book clubs and independent reading.
Colleagues praise Simeen’s ability to see her students as individuals and to adjust her instruction accordingly. “Simeen is indefatigable in her efforts to reach students and make classroom instruction relevant,” said Kathleen Skeals, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for North Colonie Central Schools. “She understands the need to have students engaged and active in their learning. She consistently finds ways not only to validate students’ efforts, but also to invite them to become a part of the classroom community.”
Her efforts are clearly reflected in her students’ accomplishments. Last year, Simeen was one of only seven percent of New York teachers to receive a Highly Effective rating from the state, reflecting that her students’ growth was “well above the state average for similar students.”
Simeen’s dedication to education extends well beyond the classroom. She is involved extensively in teacher leadership and research in her school, her district and the broader educational research community. She is a member of numerous school and district committees and is a leading member of the North Colonie District Globalization Task Force, helping to facilitate its study group which explores and studies global and cultural issues that impact the school community. At SUNY Albany, she is a member of a research project funded by the Longview Foundation for Education in World Affairs and International Understanding where she and other members explore how to incorporate global perspectives into the local curriculum and to create opportunities for young people to take action as global citizens.
Simeen brings her wealth of teaching experience to her position as a teaching assistant in UAlbany’s Reading Department, where she coaches graduate students in the masters in literacy program. Her focus, as always, is on the student as an individual -- helping the educators of tomorrow extend their understanding of what it means to be an effective literacy teacher and, ultimately, to impact their students’ lives through their truly motivating and deeply transformative teaching. It’s a role well suited to this dedicated, outstanding educator.