Congratulations to the Following Teachers!

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  • Shelley Credidio

    Math Interventionalist
    Sandshore Elementary School
    Nominated By: Tracy Church

    Shelley Credidio is a dedicated and enthusiastic educator who strives to build an engaging environment for all her students. She makes a point to get to know her students and comprehend their individual needs and learning styles. Shelley ensures she remains fully up to date on the latest teaching practices. Not only is she a rock star in the classroom, but she has been a member of a board of education for over ten years working tirelessly for students in the town where she lives. She has also been a mentor to student teachers and new teachers as well as on several committees within her school and district. Ms. Credidio has devoted her life to students, and it is evident in the love her current and former students have for her.

  • Jeff Bertoncin

    Health & PE Teacher
    University Middle School
    Nominated By: John Taylor

    Jeff goes above and beyond to ensure his students have monumental experiences in class and through athletics. He has often gone into his own pocket to make sure students have essential athletic gear such as proper footwear, mouthguards, and more. Many middle school soccer games were canceled this past fall due to inclement weather, so Jeff advocated for the students to play in an alternate league this spring, allowing them to have a proper season. He became the head varsity boys’ soccer coach at Irvington High School in 2022, and since then has helped two of his athletes earn all-state honors. When the families of the athletes couldn’t afford the ticket price to the all-state awards banquet, Jeff assisted the families with paying for the tickets, allowing parents and siblings to see their son/brother receive all-state recognition.

  • Nina Vaykahnskaya

    Russian & Mathematics Teacher
    Bruriah High School
    Nominated By: Janice Dowd

    Nina teaches Russian and Mathematics at Bruriah High School, a private high school for girls, and is a cherished member of the staff. Her enthusiasm for teaching and helping her students learn is evident in her classroom. Her students perform well on standardized tests and show increased proficiency each year. Nina has also worked hard to help Ukranian refugees and has provided assistance to groups that are working to bring food and shelter to those in need. She also conducts free workshops for Russian teachers in the summer to help them improve their language teaching skills. Her work with Ukrainian refugees also involves her students. Nina encourages her students to follow her lead and take part in helping others in whatever way they can. She is a model citizen who involves her students in civic activities. Nina is the quintessential teacher who cares about her students and helps them achieve success.

  • Justin Lefebvre

    Teacher
    Pequannock Township High School
    Nominated By: Lee Ann Brensinger

    Justin is this year’s NJEA Community Spotlight recipient.

    Justin’s Cornerstone class is a life skills program where he coordinates on and off site opportunities for disabled students to interact with staff, students, and the public. For example, they may visit a grocery store to shop for the items they use in classroom food prep or go to the park to practice social skills. He arranges employment opportunities and has created a coffee cart program where staff can purchase coffee and baked goods prepared by his students. Justin also runs a Teaching and Learning Academy allowing students to learn teaching strategies, create lesson plans, and work with teachers throughout the district. He has also helped to develop the Unified Sports Program in the school which brings disabled and abled students together to participate in various sporting events and is run through the Special Olympics.

  • Thomas Povinelli

    Teacher of Culinary Arts
    Randolph High School
    Nominated By: Robert Redmon

    Tom is always looking out for new topics and recipes to challenge his students daily. He gives up a lot of his free time to allow his students to come in to the lab before, during, and after-school. Tom works with Culinary Arts around Thanksgiving to prepare meals at local restaurants to let his students experience real-world skills in the industry. He and his students also work with Nourish NJ to prepare and cook fresh farm-to-table meals for the homeless and food-insecure families. Tom is also an active member of the Randolph Volunteer Fire Department where he runs a food Truck for the hardworking first responders.

  • Dave DeVries

    Digital & Video Media Arts Teacher
    Jefferson Township High School
    Nominated By: Conor Devine

    Dave teaches his students how to create digital art using many different programs. He encourages his students and cares about their growth by also supporting them outside of the classroom. In his spare time, Dave serves as the advisor to the Video Game club and coordinates school art shows. He also worked as an artist for Marvel and the Lego 2 movie and connects his students with his own industry professional contacts. Dave also collaborated with Visions Federal Credit Union on a contest for his students to create the wall art and business branding at the Visions Bank that is built right into the high school. 

  • Silvia Gebala

    Paraprofessional
    Mount Horeb Elementary School
    Nominated By: Helen Moore

    Silvia is the perfect paraprofessional to guide kindergarteners during their first year at school. She is patient and kind with young students and plays an integral part in helping them feel comfortable and heard. She helps with school duties in the lunchroom, on the playground, and serves as an important assistant in the classroom. As an immigrant herself decades ago, Silvia is especially attuned to children who may be English-language learners and helps the teaching staff bridge the gap between parents who may need a translator, which helps make them feel included and informed.

  • Christina Velardi

    PE & Health Teacher
    Lincoln Park Middle School
    Nominated By: Michael Meyer

    Christina has taught PE and health for 14 years and has taught her students about the importance of healthy bodies and minds. Beyond the classroom, Christina is the advisor to the school’s Climate Committee where students plan activities to promote a positive atmosphere in the school. This year they organized a Veteran’s Day breakfast to honor family members of students who served our country. The Climate Committee also worked with the community partners to organize a Color Run for elementary and middle school students of Lincoln Park and raised over $3,000 for suicide prevention.

  • Lauren Marianino

    Multilingual Teacher
    Black River Middle School
    Nominated By: Joseph Pizzo

    Lauren inspires her multilingual and special-needs students to build bridges to success and helps those who are uninterested in class become eager learners. Lauren goes the extra mile to become every student’s personal learning coach and is known for adapting to several learning styles. In addition to being a great teacher within the classroom, Lauren volunteers her own time and money to assist other teachers and provides clothing for students in need. By combining a continuous dose of encouragement and willingness to support their interests, Lauren makes a huge impact on each of her students.

  • Jennifer Fitzgibbons

    Autism Program Teacher
    Mount Arlington Public School
    Nominated By: Jeff Grillo

    Jennifer is head of a program called STEPS, which stands for Steps Toward Educating Prepared and Well-Rounded Students. This program creates a clear, routine structure and individualized curriculum in her classroom. Her own management, warmhearted nature, and ability to adapt at a moment’s notice have helped her STEPS students grow tremendously. Jennifer is a collaborative team player who readily shares insights, resources, and strategies with her colleagues. She is a positive role model for her many supportive staff members who she also trains. She also actively contributes to the development of individualized education plans and collaborates with other professionals, parents, and caregivers to ensure in-depth support for each student.

  • Lisa Chestnutt

    Business Teacher
    Butler High School
    Nominated By: Rory Fitzgerald

    Lisa runs the school’s work-based learning program to set students up for success upon graduation. Her innovative teaching methods, combined with a genuine interest in each student’s growth, have consistently resulted in remarkable achievements both in and out of the classroom.  Through her teaching, students have not only shaped their business skills but have developed invaluable leadership qualities. Lisa is highly regarded by both students and colleagues alike for her approachability, professionalism, and support. Outside of the classroom, Lisa controls the school’s DECA program, which is a national competition for high school students interested in business and marketing. She also runs the school store and has been involved in Toys for Tots and Thanksgiving donation collecting for her community.

  • Jennifer Coakley

    Kindergarten Teacher
    South End School in Cedar Grove
    Nominated By: Brooke Reynolds

    As a kindergarten teacher, Jennifer embodies the essence of nurturing, patience, and innovation to her students while in the classroom. She goes above and beyond to create a dynamic and inclusive learning environment where every child feels valued and empowered. Beyond the classroom, Jennifer is Vice President of the local education association and advocates for the rights and well-being of both students and educators. She recognizes the importance of a supportive and collaborative work environment while encouraging a culture of respect and solidarity among her colleagues. Jennifer is always willing to listen and lend a helping hand, regardless of the situation.

  • Lauren Greenfield

    Special Education Teacher
    Irvington High School in Irvington
    Nominated By: Michael Byock

    Lauren teaches the Community Based Instruction program at Irvington High School, which helps special needs 18 to 21–year–old students learn how to take care of themselves so they can be productive members of society. She works with the school and community to make sure these students are prepared to go out into the world as adults. Lauren goes out of her way to take these students on field trips to local stores to learn how to work different jobs and teaches them how to cook in her classroom. Lauren has also planned and organized a Special Olympics event that has been running for 11 years and ran food distribution events over the last 6 years. Many students and teachers come to her when any problem pops up because they know that she will find an answer and help them out. 

  • Lisa Klink

    Special Education Teacher
    Schuyler Colfax Middle School in Wayne
    Nominated By: Tracy Mara

    One of Lisa’s main contributions to the school was establishing a therapy dog program over the last five years. She brings her dog Thor to the school weekly and teaches the students about the benefits of dogs for emotional outlets. Both the students and staff both benefit from the love and attention that Thor offers. Lisa also works with emotionally fragile students so that they can fully reap the benefits of Thor’s support. This program is so successful that it has been implemented in other schools in the district as well as in neighboring towns. In her spare time, Lisa volunteers for the Seeing Eye, helps transport dogs for Australian Shepard’s Furever nonprofit, and is an Ambassador for the Lupus Foundation.

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