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Guiding Minds: The Inspiring Journey of a Devoted Educator

Jonela Hasani has been awarded and featured among the Top 100 inspiring women entrepreneurs in the Global Woman magazine.

“I feel very honored, happy, and excited to be recognized among the top 100 inspiring women entrepreneurs at the Global level. Participation in the Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs of the Year is an invaluable opportunity for me to share my story and connect with like-minded professionals. I am honored and thank the Global Woman team for this opportunity. I graciously accept this award with great pride.

We hope many other Albanian American women follow in her footsteps to contribute to the educational system and encourage young immigrant students to follow a path to success. Her story is a good example of how people who succeed on their own have a difficult journey ahead. Let’s stop briefly at some “stations” of her life to understand how she got to this prestigious award given by the Global Woman Club in London.


How have your dual roles as a School Counselor and Administrative Executive Secretary within the New York City Department of Education shaped your professional journey?

Ms. Jonela Hasani has worked for the New York City Department of Education for over 19 years. Initially in various positions. Today, she is a School Counselor and Administrative Executive Secretary. In addition, part of her extracurricular experience is centered on being a Virtual Professional Development Moderator, conducting workshops for students at risk.

Jonela’s many years of experience working with the high school population and students at risk has afforded her a well-rounded skill set. Including first-rate problem-solving communication, leadership skills, as well as recognizing social and environmental factors affecting learners. She has a solid educational foundation with a passion for education and working with students.

She states: “I always wanted to continue my doctorate in the field of Education and I hope I will do it very soon. This has been my goal in life and with strong determination and loyalty, I will achieve it. In the next 10 years, I will have new achievements in my professional field”. 

Can you elaborate on your educational background and how it led you to specialize in psychology and school counseling?

Jonela Hasani has been living and working in the United States, in the City of New York for 23 years. She came in 2001 with a visa like any other Albanian immigrant, where she encountered many difficulties. Such as language barriers, documents, and financial hardship. In 2001, without hesitation, she started working. While dealing with her legal status, she entered school. 

Even though Jonela graduated from the “Ismail Qemali” High School in Tirana, Albania in 2000 at age 18, she enrolled in another high school in New York City to be able to continue a higher education. She graduated with excellence in 2003. The well-known American newspaper “The New York Times” in July 2003, dedicated a special page for exceptional students, which included Ms. Hasani.

At the age of 21, and a recent high school graduate, Ms. Hasani questioned her next stage in life. Having no help and support to cover her expenses, she worked seven days a week, holding two jobs and extended hours to meet her financial needs. However, Ms. Hasani always wanted to become somebody and build a successful career. The appearance of her name in the New York Times newspaper was the beginning of her dreams in America. This newspaper helped her to start the process of her documentation and further her education. 

After graduating from City College of New York with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Human Services including People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Ms. Hasani realized that she was more suitable in the field of Psychology. Thus, Ms. Hasani passionately completed her Master of Science Education in School Counseling at Alfred University and further her preparation in the Special Education Program at the College of Saint Rose.  

Jonela decided to work at the school she graduated from in NYC,  Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School, where she currently works. Over the years, working with students, and parents, and carrying different roles in that institution, Jonela planned to work in the field of education. Her dream was to become a businesswoman and work with prestigious firms. However, due to personal difficulties, her dream began to shift from a businesswoman to an educator.

How did you start working with children and teenagers? What experiences and insights have you gained from your 19-year tenure with the New York City Department of Education, particularly in working closely with high school students, including those at risk? 

In 2005, Ms. Hasani started to work at her former transfer high school Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School. It provides education for a culturally and linguistically diverse population. The mission of the school is to help students of ages 17 to 21 years old, who for various reasons and circumstances, have had their education interrupted. Enabling them to obtain a high school diploma. For the past 19 years at this institution, Ms. Hasani carried multiple roles. She has worked in various positions such as School Aid, Health Aid, Health Coordinator, and School Secretary. While happily serving as a School Counselor and Administrative Executive Secretary, Ms. Hasani possesses the credibility and experience warranted for the active school community. 

Throughout her career, Jonela has developed different programs and workshops. She implemented a panel discussion for “The Art of Navigating The World Around You,” which focuses on social-emotional issues, and “Achieve, Believe, Succeed” which focuses on career exploration. In addition, she created a program called “Girls and Boys Club”. The mission and vision for self-discovery and empowerment. A place where they can explore and share special qualities of thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Jonela developed and facilitated Respect for All workshops and life skills lessons using the “Overcoming Obstacles” curriculum. She created a program: “Girls Club” with a mission and vision for self-discovery and empowerment of women. Furthermore, Jonela conducts workshops for students at-risk about various topics: Communication Skills, Self-Awareness, decision-making, How to Build Healthy Relationships, and Moving on to College and Career Interview Skills. Ms. Hasani has organized many school events such as the Thanksgiving Multicultural Festival, Talent Show, Ice Cream Social, Senior Orientations, and The Graduation Ceremony. The purpose of these events that Jonela performed was to develop greater positive interactions among her students and staff to build stronger bonds and improve student engagement. 

As an Educator, Ms. Hasani helps students with every difficulty that they face in their educational or life journey outside of this institution. As an immigrant who came to the United States, back 23 years ago, she encountered all the difficulties that every immigrant faces. Ms. Hasani states: “I have dedicated my life to the poor and unfortunate children/adolescents, who for various reasons have not been able to finish school. With my work and dedication, I always try to open the door to success for these students. I want to see only success in their eyes accompanied by smiles on their faces. I extend them a warm hand, to help them understand, without judging them for the decisions they have made. My support and guidance are apparent to them and my actions prove the importance of their decisions in life”.

Could you discuss your creation of programs like the “Girls Club and South Asian Girls Club” and their mission to promote self-discovery and empowerment among young women? 

Ms. Hasani created a Prevention program called “Girls Club and South Asian Girls Club ” with the theme: Voices and Self-Empowerment for female students and South Asian Female Students. The purpose of this program is to bring self-awareness and create an empowerment zone for South Asians Female Students and others. This intervention will help them grow internally, change their perception, and learn to accept life’s challenges. They are to be manifested while identifying their special qualities, thoughts, feelings, ideas, and most reliable experiences, which can tremendously contribute to how much they can respond. That is a given option and as the program culminates, visual voices will be achieved. 

How do you demonstrate your commitment to unionism, specifically as a delegate chapter member in the United Federation of Teachers (UFT)? How have you contributed to humanitarian efforts, such as supporting women affected by breast cancer and aiding children impacted by earthquakes in various regions?

In addition to her professional practice, Ms. Hasani demonstrates a strong commitment to unionism. Jonela was elected as a delegate to the Delegate Assembly for School Secretaries Chapters in the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in December 2019. Jonela has actively participated in the UFT Chapter meetings helping with setting up and distributing agendas. In addition, she participates in Delegate Assemblies and Meetings of the Executive Board of School Secretaries. She participates in the Annual Seminar that takes place every year for “Guidance School Counselors” for all New York public schools. Furthermore, she provides colleagues with information about the latest news of each Delegate Assembly. In addition, she empowers members by ensuring their contractual rights are respected. 

Ms. Hasani has been an active participant in helping raise awareness and support people with breast cancer. In addition, Ms. Hasani helped and supported students who were impacted by the earthquake in Albania, Ecuador, Nepal, and Puerto Rico. Moreover, she is a supporter of the Albanian American Women’s Organization “Sister Qiriazi” as well as several other organizations. 

In what capacity do you serve as a Virtual Global Inspirational Public Speaker with Global Woman Club, and what are your key missions and objectives in this role?

Ms. Jonela Hasani became a member of the Global Woman Club in December 2020. The first participation was in the virtual event Global Woman Club/ New York that took place on December 29, 2020. A week later Ms. Hasani participated in the virtual event “WatchMe 2021 Challenge with Mirela Sula” for 5 days (from January 4 to 9, 2021). In this event, she created a close network with women from different professional fields from all over the world. Furthermore, she participated in other events that the “Global Woman Club” organized in January and February.

On February 16, 2021, the Global Woman Club nominated Jonela for the “Inspirational Global Woman of the Year 2021 Award” and she has also participated in the Global Woman Summit 2021.  Since then, Jonela has actively participated at the Global Woman Club New York with the mission and vision to empower women worldwide and fight for inclusion, diversity, and gender.

Can you provide examples of awards and recognitions you have received throughout your career, and how have these accolades shaped your professional journey? How has your work been featured in newspapers like the New York Times and others, and what significance do these features hold for your career and advocacy efforts?

Throughout her career, for her work full of passion and dedication, Ms. Hasani has received several awards.  On May 1, 2022, Ms. Hasani was nominated the “Educator of the Year 2022”  Albanian American Women’s Organization (AAWO) “Sister Qirazi”. On March 8, 2021, Ms. Hasani was the first Albanian American Global Woman Award Nominee 2021 in the category of Inspirational Awards by Global Woman Club, London. In April 2019, she was honored with the “Community Champion Award” from the United Federation of Teachers/Academic High Schools for going beyond to connect with students, communities, and the union. During the Teacher Union Day Award Ceremony, on November 5, 2017, she was honored with the “Career Advancement Award” and “Above and Beyond Award” by the United Federation of Teachers for outstanding service. In June 2016 she was awarded The James F. Dougherty Award for Excellence in Professional Counseling from the Center for Integrated Teacher Education (CITE).  Ms. Hasani was featured in different newspapers and media such as: “The New York Times”, “ United Federal of Teachers” ( UFT) Portal,  “Dielli”, “Diaspora Shqiptare” “Si”, “Alb Spirit”, “ Gazeta Shqiptare”  “She InspiresMe/ Women of Diaspora” and more. Featured on the media: “ABC News Albania”, “Alba Life TV”, “ALB TV USA”.

All these awards, recognitions, and features in newspapers and media have given Ms. Hasani the courage, confidence, and determination that she can excel and achieve anything in life. Ms. Hasani’s career path unfolds as a testament to resilience, dedication, and a profound commitment to fostering positive change. Her journey demonstrates the power of an individual dedicated to making a meaningful impact on her own life and the lives of others. 

What philosophy do you adhere to in your approach to mentoring students, and how do you apply this philosophy in your daily interactions and professional practice?

A beautiful expression of Zig Ziglar ( American author, and motivational speaker) was “ IF YOU DREAM YOU CAN ACHIEVE IT”. This quote is very suitable for Ms. Hasani’s story. Her passion and drive to become an entrepreneur is an obvious reality. Jonela’s successes have proven to be rewarding to her lifetime career and the success of her students. Being an entrepreneur has rewarding meaning and benefits. The strength and ability to accomplish your goals in the most dedicated fashion possible.

Jonela states: “There is nothing more precious when you see that her tireless work helps and changes students and people’s lives on the path of knowledge, success, and moving forward in life. Her philosophy is: “Every student can succeed with the help and guidance of a mentor, who sees the world through their eyes for success. Their heart reflects love and desire to move towards success”.

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