Campus & Community

Celebrating an 'Inspiring' Collaboration Between Stevens, Hoboken High School

The average SAT score of a student accepted to Stevens continues to climb, and high achievers studying business at the university are now sharing some of their test-taking knowledge with upperclassmen at Hoboken High School.

Six Stevens undergraduates and 16 Hoboken High students were honored this week at a ceremony in the Babbio Center for their roles in making the SATMax program a success. Through SATMax, Stevens faculty and student work as tutors to help Hoboken High students in the four areas of SAT and PSAT test-taking: math skills, verbal skill, written composition and testing strategies.

Stevens business students Daniela Cardona, Andrea Dragoni, Brandon Griffin, Paul Killian, Matthew Morton and J.J. Shannon worked as tutors, while Dr. Donald Lombardi serves as SATMax director.

“On the first day of SATMax, in Room 118 at Hoboken High School, we told the students that this would be their first college class,” Lombardi said. “With our microteaching approach, on-site comprehensive teaching and our emphasis on the PACT Formula — Pride, Accountability, Commitment and Trust — they were outstanding in learning not only what college would be about, but learning how to achieve maximum success.”

Various dignitaries from Hoboken attended the event, including Mayor Dawn Zimmer, as well as leadership from Stevens, including Dr. Nariman Farvardin, the university president, and Dr. Gregory Prastacos, dean of the business school.

In her remarks, Zimmer spoke of the strong and growing relationship between Stevens and Hoboken, and the importance the university has as the city continues to attract new residents, business and investment.

“Some of you will be here at Stevens, some of you will be across the country, but you’ll all be learning and growing and leading,” Zimmer said. “What I believe is most important is that, whatever you do, you have to try your hardest at it.” The SATMax program, she said, helps make that possible.

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Farvardin had a similar message for the Hoboken students, whom he said he “expect(ed) to see at Stevens in about a year.” The president spoke of the importance of “taking every opportunity possible” to support “dedicated, talented people” like the Hoboken students.

“We are very committed to working with our neighbors to be sure all the exciting things happening on our campus are shared with the community,” Farvardin added.

The most useful resource Stevens shares with Hoboken, of course, is its students, like Griffin, who will graduate in May with a degree in Business and Technology. As a child, Griffin said, he knew he wanted to someday teach.

“I enjoy when a student becomes excited because they understand a concept or learn something new,” Griffin said, adding that he has been inspired by great teachers whose passion for the profession “helped me to see many of the joys that teaching brings to teachers that can help their students succeed.”

Griffin became involved with SATMax through Lombardi’s independent study class, and accepted his professor’s challenge to not only teach, but to redesign the program. He helped develop the structure of SATMax and create systems for tutor selection, course pedagogy and curriculum, and fundraising.

Much of what Griffin needed to take on such a challenge came from his Stevens classes, especially Lombardi’s teaching style. 

“He said many times throughout the program that the best thing to do, both on a test and in life, is to plan your work and work your plan,” Griffin said of Lombardi. “This is one of the fundamental things to remember in the business world.”

Griffin said he also learned the value of adapting that plan to meet various unexpected obstacles, as well as the importance of good communication skills.

‘Extremely lucky’ to work with Stevens

Members of the Hoboken board of education also attended the event. Board President Ruth Tyroler thanked Stevens for the SATMax initiative, saying “we are extremely lucky to have you as a resource.”

“This collaboration with Stevens is inspiring and motivating our children,” she said. “Working with Stevens faculty and students gives them the tools, but almost more important, the confidence and enthusiasm they need to be highly successful college students.”

Lombardi said programs like SATMax help forge a strong link between Stevens and Hoboken, calling the program “a natural neighborhood partnership.”

“For Stevens, it gives us the opportunity to demonstrate, through purposeful action, that our commitment to playing a significant part in the local education mission isn't just talk,” he said. “Additionally, our tutors develop mentoring, teaching and leadership skills in a real world setting that gets meaningful results.”

That’s a notion Griffin understands well.

“Anyone can grow,” he said. “The teacher can learn from the students. I was very fortunate to learn from my SAT students not only skills like planning and communication, but also different life skills like friendship, determination, passion, enthusiasm, encouragement, organization and inclusion. Each of these will help me as I move on in my career and rise to new challenges.”

For more on how Stevens works to make inroads with Hoboken, visit Stevens Connects, or follow @StevensConnects on Twitter.

Caption information: 
Top: Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer speaks about the strong relationship between her office and Stevens during the SATMax reception at the Babbio Center. 
Headshots, top to bottom: Dr. Donald Lombardi, a professor of business at Stevens; Zimmer; Stevens President Dr. Nariman Farvardin; Brandon Griffin, a member of the Stevens Class of 2015; Hoboken school board President Ruth Tyroler.