We are proud to welcome the following teachers to the WMTR Teachers Who Rock Class of 2016, presented by the New Jersey Education Association and The U.S. Army.
Thanks to our Sponsors
Mr. Joseph Mankin
Instrumental Music Teacher at Christopher Columbus Middle School in Clifton
Mr. Joseph Mankin, a 7th and 8th grade instrumental music teacher at Christopher Columbus Middle School, stands out as a music education teacher. The presentation of his material is always logical, well-organized, and effectively communicates the subject matter to his students. He is analytical in his approach to teaching and offers creative strategies for students using his wealth of knowledge of music. Mr. Mankin is creative in his instruction and uses positive reinforcement to achieve results with students.
Mr. Mankin gets his students to perform in many different productions at the school including creating a pit orchestra for the school musical and having them perform at the winter and spring concerts. He also heads up the new guitar club at the school which has been a success because of his talent and enthusiasm. Due to Mr. Mankin’s resourcefulness, he was able to attain donated guitars for his students’ use.
Mr. Mankin understands the mechanics of working with the staff of the school using excellent interpersonal skills. He is a strong leader in a large staff of approximately 130. He works well with all students in the school and is an important part of special assemblies to encourage and educate all students about the expectation of positive behavior as young citizens of school and community. Because of his role as a musical leader and positive role model at the school, we honor Mr. Mankin as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Ms. Hilary Almeida
ESL Teacher at Jefferson Middle School in Teaneck
Ms. Hilary Almeida is presently teaching ESL in the Teaneck School District. She is dedicated to her students and their learning and is always filled with creative ideas. In her time as a Spanish teacher, Ms. Almeida would compose an original song in Spanish, teach it to her students, and have them perform it during the assembly commemorating Hispanic Heritage month. She always accompanied the students on stage singing with them and playing her guitar.
When the elementary language program was changed due to budget cuts, Ms. Almeida moved to the ESL program and became a valued member of that staff. She still continues to write songs for her students to present at school assemblies, usually in English and sometimes, with students’ help, in other languages. Administrators and colleagues look forward to her students’ “educational entertainment” every year. One of the jobs of an ESL teacher is to be an advocate and help students understand the American school system. Ms. Almeida has always taken her job seriously; she has cared so much for her students that she would take time out of her schedule to visit them if they worked after school. In one case, a young man seemed tired in class and was not always completing his homework. Ms. Almeida learned that he was helping his parents in their restaurant after school. She went one evening to the restaurant to talk with the parents to ensure that the young man had enough time to complete his schoolwork and get enough sleep. After her intervention, the student’s class work greatly improved.
Over the past few years, Ms. Almeida has branched out to help other ESL teachers. She has presented at New Jersey ESL conferences and helped to organize local conferences. She is currently the president of the northern chapter of NJ TESOL and organized a Saturday conference this winter to help teachers prepare for the state assessments given to all ESL students. Ms. Almeida also teaches a graduate course at the local university and in that capacity helps international students understand American culture and the American education system. Ms. Almeida is a very creative, deserving, and dedicated teacher, certainly one who “rocks!’
Mr. Rick Romano
Head Custodian at Columbia Middle School in Berkeley Heights
Mr. Rick Romano is part of the Columbia Middle School family. Students throughout the building know him by name and can count on him to help when needed. More than once Rick has calmed down a frantic student whose locker wouldn’t open, or knows how to find that lost sweatshirt.
It’s not just the students that Rick goes above and beyond for. On those snowy winter days, you can always find Rick and his staff out in the parking lot brushing off the snow and ice from teacher’s cars, making sure everyone has a safe ride home.
Because of his dedication to the students and teachers, we honor Rick Romano as an ESP Who Rocks!
Ms. Marie Pellegrini
3rd Grade teacher at Mountain Park Elementary School in Berkeley Heights
Like most teachers, Ms. Pellegrini starts each day with a smile. She arrives at work an hour early each day, doting on every detail to make each lesson the best for her class. Her class included eleven students with special needs, and she seamlessly meets the needs of all twenty one children in the room. To do this, Marie has written many grants, and won amazing equipment for her kids. Her inclusion classroom includes general education students, students with autism, ADHD, and a variety of learning disabilities. It takes so much effort to do the job well, and Ms. Pellegrini not only makes it happen, but does it so well her classroom should be on Pinterest.Her “work family” jokingly calls Ms. Pellegrini “Bayonne Betty” because nothing about her is quiet. Her laugh can be heard down the hallway of the school and her morning music is rocking until 8 AM when the students start arriving. During writing workshop, classical music is softly playing in the background. She integrates music, movement, and joyful moments to ensure her students happily learn each day.
In addition, Marie is the advisor of the yearbook club and safety patrol club. She volunteers for everything including the ALS ice bucket challenge where she was drenched in front of the entire school, the BHEA teachers basketball games, the community chili cookout, and more. Because Ms. Pellegrini is a talented and caring teacher for her school, we honor her as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Mr. Gary Treffinger
English Teacher at Cicely L Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts
Mr. Treffinger enjoys every day at Tyson School. It shows in each of his classes and in his interaction with all of his colleagues. He is a quirky prankster who captures his student’s attention and leads them to learning. He starts each class with a ten-minute feature that not only focuses his students on the daily lesson, but gives them cultural insight through trivia. Presented on a whiteboard, these 10-minute intros have included topics as varied as: “what is a conncat?,” “The story of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter,” and “The Words of Janis Ian’s Society’s Child.” After capturing his students’ attention, Mr. Treffinger can then focus on American and British literature.
Mr. Treffinger makes the school a nice place to be and improves it’s climate through his comic persona. He is a second career teacher and, even though he has less than a decade in the classroom, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his former career and adventurous life. Before and after school, rock music blares from his radio making him a true Teacher Who Rocks.
Mrs. Christina Munoz
5th Grade Teacher at Durban Avenue School in Hopatcong
Parents and staff agree that Mrs. Munoz is a rock star at the Durban Avenue School. Her creative approach to teaching is certainly displayed on a daily basis and Mrs. Munoz is always willing to try new things within her classroom. This year the staff is being trained using Writer’s Workshop. She has embraced this new challenge and taken her students to new heights in terms of writing. She serves as a role model as she creates and shares her own personal writings with her students. She encourages her students to write from the heart. Her most recent accomplishment was having one of her student’s writings published in The Daily Record.
Student engagement is key within her classroom as students are always working in pairs or groups to accomplish tasks. Technology is always in use and she encourages her students to use higher order thinking skills and challenges them on a daily basis. There is always something fun and exciting happening, Mrs. Munoz celebrates all of her students accomplishments and is very much in favor of holding high expectations for each student but, at the same time, very in tune to each student’s needs and strives to bring out social and emotional growth as well. She is a team player and serves on various committees at the Durban Avenue School in order to move the school forward as a whole. She recently worked with a group of teachers to develop a new Departmentalized Schedule for the school. Her focus is always on student achievement and improvement.
Ms. Monica Funigiello
History teacher at Randolph High School
Bright eyes. Huge smile. Enthusiastic personality. All of these qualities describe Ms Funigiello who has been a history teacher at Randolph High School for the past three years. It is her passion for student success and her creativity in the classroom that truly set her apart from other teachers. Ms. Funigiello began her career in education by working with the Peace Corps and teaching in her native Florida. These experiences prepared her to lead classes that many other teachers might complain about; the lowest general education classes offered. These are the classes that she shines the most in. She is able to engage even the most struggling, indifferent, or unmotivated students.Ms. Funigiello consistently comes up with interesting lessons and activities. She has the students dress up to perform a Great Depression simulation, she hosts a non-verbal debate over the causes of the Civil War using Socrative, and she also teaches classes decked out in Revolutionary War attire when introducing battles fought in New Jersey. While at times Ms. Funigiello’s students may be resistant or hard to reach, they are always thankful for the push that she gives them.
Ms. Funigiello’s special relationship with her kids is evident as soon as you walk in her classroom. The walls and her desk are covered with memorabilia and notes from students both past and present. In addition to teaching, she coaches both soccer and softball and consistently has been chosen by her senior athletes as their favorite teacher. She was the Italian club advisor, and is always one of the teacher volunteers for pep rally events, such as tug of war or the teacher basketball game. Ms. Funigiello stands out as an example for her peers as well, as she consistently leads coaching and continuing education activities for other teachers. For making Randolph High School truly a better place to be, we honor Ms. Funigiello as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Ms. Stacy Lafargue
Special Education Teacher at The Matheny School in Peapack
Ms. Stacy Lafargue is currently the leader of the elementary team at The Matheny School, a non-profit private school in Peapack for children with medically complex developmental disabilities. Ms. Lafargue says that the best part of her job is “the interactions with students. It may take a lot of time and effort to help a student express his or her thoughts or ideas, but every student has a voice that deserves to be heard. It’s unbelievably rewarding to witness the pride of non-verbal students when they answer questions, write a story, or share ideas with peers.”
Ms. Lafargue believes that teaching is not just about the final result, but about the process it takes to get there. Whether it’s choosing which color marker to use on a worksheet, picking a favorite snack, or answering questions on an assessment, Ms. Lafargue facilitates the students interaction with the world and tries to make it just a little easier for them to exist in it each day.
For her dedication to making sure her students learn the process of how to get to the final answer, we honor Ms. Lafargue as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Mr. Ruben Rosado
Art Teacher at Morris County School of Technology in Denville
Since 2005, Mr. Ruben Rosado has been an instrumental part of the instructional team at Morris County School of Technology. Mr. Rosado started as a Spanish Teacher who was known for creating and conducting games that engaged the students while simultaneously challenging them. As the school grew, there was a need for an art teacher so that they could expand their elective course offerings. Mr. Rosado, who holds a BFA in painting, made the transition to the art department and immediately provided a strong vision for the program. He uses his diverse knowledge to provide dynamic instruction in courses based on composition, digital design, and advertising.
Perhaps most compelling about Mr. Rosado’s instruction is his ability to have students speak honestly and thoughtfully about their work and the work of their peers. Students in his class regularly engage in structured critiques where they speak freely about the work on display. Mr. Rosado has created an environment where students are comfortable both providing and receiving insightful feedback, as he has instilled a strong understanding that the process is essential for artistic growth. To that end, Mr. Rosado has also developed a website for the purpose of online student portfolios and communication.
Mr. Rosado has led several unique initiatives at the school including silk-screening, school-beautification projects, and the development of the school logo. He provides his students with integral roles throughout the project development. Because of his commitment of growing the arts in his classroom and around his school, we honor Mr. Rosado as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Mrs. Maria Aiello and Ms. Lisa Lazzara
A 3rd Grade Special Ed Inclusion Teaching Team at Woodmont Elementary in Pine Brook
This week, we received a special double nomination for a pair that have been described as a “dynamic duo” at Woodmont Elementary. Mrs. Aiello and Ms. Lazzara are special education and regular education inclusion teachers who have been teaching together as a team for the past 14 years at Woodmont Elementary. As a team, they plan and differentiate lessons to incorporate all learning styles. They believe in giving an equal and fair education to all of their students. Their students enjoy daily music brain breaks in the classroom consisting of dancing and singing with Just Dance on the smart board.
Mrs. Aiello also wears many hats. She is the teacher in charge at the school when the principal is not present, an adjunct professor at Montclair State, a tutor, and is on the I&RS Committee, the Safety Committee, and is the PRIDE coordinator for the school. Together, Mrs. Aiello and Ms. Lazzara always have smiles on their faces and a hand to lend. They emulate to their students what great role models are and how to successfully work together in a positive and fun way. Because of their ability to team up to provide the best possible experience for their students, we honor both Mrs. Aiello and Ms. Lazzara as Teachers Who Rock.
Mrs. Mary Nee
Kindergarten Teacher at Hudson Maxim Elementary School in Hopatcong
For the past two years, Mrs. Nee has chosen to take on the Kindergarten class that has students who need the most academic remediation. She works tirelessly to come up with interesting, hands-on projects and activities that make learning fun. She is always making and creating games, puzzles, and projects that are based on a reading, writing, or math concept her students will be working on. All of the students have made giant gains in Mrs. Nee’s class both socially and academically. Mrs. Nee is passionate about helping her students excel and not just be ready, but ultra prepared for first grade.
When things go wrong, Mrs. Nee always has a smile on her face and incredible patience. If students misbehave, Mrs. Nee is calm, caring, and explains why the behavior was not appropriate. She makes it simple so that students understand how to make a better choice the next time.
It is unbelievable to see the progress students have made in Mrs. Nee’s class. Mrs. Nee has all of the students reading, writing, adding, and subtracting at their own ability level. They are always excited to hear about what they will be learning next, and you can bet it will be something important taught in a fun and interesting way. As a co-worker, Mrs. Nee is always willing to share ideas. She always has a smile and will go out of her way to help anyone. Because of her thoughtfulness and her caring, we honor Mrs. Nee as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Mr. Daryl Detrick
Computer Science Teacher at Warren Hills High School in Washington
Mr. Detrick is a dedicated and hardworking individual at Warren Hills High School. He has spearheaded the state initiative to have Computer Science in all schools, and, just this past month, the governor passed a bill making Computer Science count as a Math Elective.
Mr. Detrick has been teaching for 21 years, starting as a Math teacher and transitioning into teaching Computer Science. Over the last seven years, the computer science program at Warren Hills has grown from 53 students to 221 under Mr. Detrick.
Mr. Detrick has founded and become a member of many organizations since becoming a Computer Science Teacher. He facilitates a program called Girls Coding With Girls where high school girls teach middle school and elementary school girls how to code. He is also the youth coordinator for Warren County Habitat For Humanity and co-chair of Hop in the Hills of Warren in which youth and adults work on homes of elderly, disabled, and low-income families. He is also a founding member and former president of Computer Science Teachers Association of Central NJ, the co-chair of CSNJ advocacy group, and the NJ representative to CSTA Advocacy Leadership Team. For his dedication in bringing Computer Science to all students, we honor Mr. Detrick as a Teacher Who Rocks.
MRS. VANESSA JACOB
Music Teacher at Beloved Community Charter School in Jersey City
Mrs. Vanessa Jacob has brought the enjoyment of music to every student that has entered her class over the last three years at Beloved Community Charter School. She facilitates multiple performances each year including a spring talent show and a graduation ceremony for departing 5th graders. Due to the low-income area around the school, many families cannot pay for instruments for the students. To help them out, Mrs. Jacob organizes a gala and casino night each year for school stakeholders, and the proceeds go to purchase instruments for learners who want to participate in band, but can’t afford the expenses.
Mrs. Jacob also offers private instruction to students who seek to develop their skills, and arranges for professional musicians to speak during assemblies about musical careers and performance.
Finally, Mrs. Jacob works with faculty members on their instrumental skills and asks them to perform in front of the student body as a “Teacher Rock Band.” Mrs. Jacob is a giving and caring music teacher who goes above and beyond the call of duty in helping every child become empowered by learning an instrument, even when they don’t have the financial means to buy one on their own. For her dedication to teach children music, no matter what their finances, we honor Mrs. Jacob as a Teacher Who Rocks.
MRS. MADELINE MAIER
Physical Education Teacher at Hillview School In Pompton Plains
Mrs. Madeline Maier is a professional, dedicated, and effective physical education teacher for students in grades K-5 at Hillview School. She plans lessons for her physical education classes that teach the students the skills and rules that are needed to play the game, as well as provide the opportunity for the students to learn about teamwork, cooperation, and fairness. Ask any student what their favorite special is and they will answer Gym without hesitation.
Mrs. Maier is often a behind the scenes person that does whatever she can to help others out. Madeline has put together the annual fifth grade vs the teachers volleyball games and basketball games. She is also the go-to person when a dance needs to be choreographed and taught to the students for the music programs. Mrs. Maier is instrumental in planning the school’s field day, where she sets up all of the events and writes out all the instructions for the volunteers and teachers running the day. Another day that students look forward to each year is Mrs. Maier’s “Jump Rope For Heart.” Students are thrilled to jump rope, win raffles and prizes, and earn money that is donated to the American Heart Association.
Mrs. Maier is easily adaptable, she will do what she can to take her classes outside or make use of the all purpose room whenever the gym is needed for another activity. Her photographs of students and teachers cover the wall of the Hillview School. Because she is an incredible asset to the Hillview School, we honor Mrs. Maier as a Teacher Who Rocks.
MR. JOHN OBERMILLER
Middle School Math Teacher at Mount Arlington Public School
Mr. Obermiller’s love of teaching and genuine passion for the subject is evident on a daily basis. He communicates and radiates a personal enthusiasm and positive attitude that makes learning such an exciting experience. His lessons are thoroughly engaging, using real world math applications that are relevant and meaningful to his students.
With a background and experience in Special Education, John knows what it takes to meet the needs of diverse and individual learners. He is their biggest supporter and ensures that they meet life with success. Mr. Obermiller is loved and appreciated by parents, students, and staff alike. Because of this admiration, we honor Mr. Obermiller as a Teacher Who Rocks!
MRS. BONNIE TAYLOR
Technology Teacher at the STEM Academy in East Orange
Mrs. Bonnie Taylor became an educator after executing a presentation for high school students on finance. Identifying the need for students to have a strong foundation in financial literacy coupled by the enthusiasm she felt from the students, Bonnie decided to change careers from investment services and transitioned into the rewarding profession of education.
For the past eleven years, she has worked in the East Orange School district in numerous 9th through 12th grade business and technology courses. Her unique approach to the classroom setting, honed by years working in corporate environments, created a new experience for students that better prepared them for their futures. Her incorporations of competitive opportunities for students thus exposed them to real world practices and created a new relationship that her students enjoyed and thrived on.
Her outreach to philanthropists gave her classes an understanding of responsible civil activism and established a respect for charity. Her students have reaped the benefits of success having participated in numerous competitions including the NJIT web design competition, National STEM Video Game Challenge, the NJ Consumer Bowl, and the NJ Department of Defense Video awards. Mrs. Taylor’s approach stems from the growth mindset that provides a variety of experiences for different learning styles with varying ability levels to achieve a sense of accomplishment. Students are encouraged to ask more questions, and they see their efforts as a journey to develop their intelligences and in turn are open to trying harder when faced with obstacles. Mrs. Taylor supports critical thinkers by creating an atmosphere which provides opportunities for adventure.
Mrs. Taylor is also an advisor to the high school computer / gamers club and champions its annual participation in Extra Life, a worldwide gaming event that raises money for Children’s Hospital Network. Her gamers have visited local hospitals in the network after the event and met the children they are helping, a life-changing encounter that all charity participants should experience.
Mrs. Taylor also partners with the student council to organize the annual breast cancer walkathon, participates on the curriculum development team, instructs professional development workshops, serves as one of the lead technology teachers to assist staff with technological needs, implements a school-wide guest speaker program for students, maintains the school website, and started the STEM Academy Gardening Club initiative by founding her school’s first garden.
Mrs. Taylor believes that a socioeconomic status should not be a factor to the quality of education students receive. Because of her dedication to the growth of both her students and her school, we honor Mrs. Taylor as a Teacher Who Rocks.
MS. THEA UNAGAST
6th Grade Teacher at Cliffside Park School #3
Ms. Thea Unagast has a unique ability to detect adolescents in distressed situations. She has a “sixth sense” for picking up on the most minute details of students that exhibit stress factors and has used her innate ability to detect the most subtle hint and hidden outcries for help. Her ability has helped so many vulnerable students by identifying those in distress and getting them the services they require.Ms. Unagast constantly reaches out to parents, always trying to get them informed and involved. While she does what most teachers do, it is the quantity of attempts that is impressive. Every time that Ms. Unagast has a few seconds, whether it’s before, during, or after school, she is contacting parents. She is always on the phone talking to parents informing them about the good and the bad things that their children are doing. Ms. Unagast sends emails, text messages, notes, test folders, and she meets with parents in conferences all the time. To her, it is important that parents get the positive, as well as the negative, and her efforts inspire her co-workers to do more.
Ms. Unagast is always willing to stay and help a child improve. She arrives at school almost 90 minutes before the first bell so that any student who would like extra help can show up early for extra tutoring. On numerous occasions, you will also see her give up her lunch time and stay after school to give even more help.
For her dedication to be there for her students in many different capacities, we honor Ms. Unagast as a Teacher Who Rocks.
MR. KEITH KASPER
English and Media Teacher at Morris Knolls High School
Mr. Keith Kasper challenges all of his students to excel each day. He has helped update the TV studio at the school to include new technologies and industry standard activities, re-vamped the video yearbook into an eye-catching, appealing video, and he spends countless hours filming and editing for the school. Mr. Kasper also recently mentored a TV Production student as she created a video that won the National Project Purple contest.Mr. Kasper is not afraid to show off a lighter side of himself to the school. He plays bass guitar in a band that has performed at several school functions and also performed a live Halloween newscast as the characters from Dumb and Dumber. Mr. Kasper was the guiding force behind the first ever live student news production, and he guest starred in the show in addition to helping produce it.
For his desire and vision to make the best broadcasting program in the area, we honor Mr. Kasper as a Teacher Who Rocks.
MS. MICHELLE KAY
Special Education Teacher at Ridge High School
To say Ms. Michelle McKay inspires would be an understatement. Her love of her students and position in general make her stand out among her colleagues. Without ever being asked, she is always advocating for her students because she sincerely believe they deserve every opportunity that can be made available to them. She runs the “Friday Night Events” which gets peer mentors involved in providing the students a night of dinner and fun activities where they can form friendships outside of the classroom. The parents appreciate the night out knowing that their children are in good hands. Many of the parents even go out together and, thanks to this opportunity, have formed an invaluable network of support among one another.
At the high school, Ms. McKay and her colleagues are the student’s last stop before the real world. She never forgets this and strives to do all she can to prepare them with the skills they need to live a fulfilling life in their homes and as a part of their community. Ms. McKay networks among other professionals and organizations to help her students find jobs and form relationships that will stay with them once the few short years they are in High School are over. She writes most of the curriculum for her students herself and their success is ultimately tied to her creativity and dedication to her job.
Ms. McKay has also developed a strong relationship with the parents of her students. Understandably, it can be terrifying for parents of children with special needs to trust the school system, but Ms. McKay’s honesty, kind-heartedness, and true caring nature along with her reputation for being one of the most hard working teachers in the district have earned her the trust and respect of the parents she works with. It is an incredible honor and something she never takes for granted.
Because of her all-around dedication to her students and their families, we honor Ms. McKay as a Teacher Who Rocks!
MS. KAREN KILLEN
6th Grade Social Studies at Mount Olive Middle School
Ms. Karen Killen’s genuine caring for her students and her sincere nature continue to set her apart at Mount Olive Middle School. She is a professional, dedicated, caring, and honest individual. She displays a genuine compassion and understanding for students that she blends nicely with a gentle firmness. Children respond to Ms. Killen’s concern, and she guides them down the path of success. Her warm nature inspires all of her students to want to work hard, and this, in turn, helps them succeed.Ms. Killen works tirelessly to create interesting, meaningful social studies lessons and takes the time to differentiate her lessons to meet the needs of all learners with diverse backgrounds and abilities. Ms. Killen is also an effective communicator, as she consistently interacts with students, parents, and staff in a positive manner. She is a highly organized and responsible individual. Her friendly personality and easy going nature help her to maintain an excellent rapport with colleagues, administrators, and parents.
Ms. Killen often creates interactive smartboard lessons and always shares all of her resources with her co-workers. She is quick to share a creative idea or lend a helping hand, and she volunteers her time when the need arises. She embraces new curriculum and ideas with enthusiasm and a positive attitude, working hard to familiarize herself with all of the program’s components. Her quick wit and contagious enthusiasm, along with a willingness to dress in costumes relating to the academic units, role play from history, and sing and dance, truly make her a Teacher Who Rocks!
MS. KATHARINE LAURITSEN
8th Grade Science Teacher at East Hanover Middle School
Katharine “Katie” Lauritsen’s rocks the socks off of East Hanover Middle School! Her science classes are a joy to behold and her students leave her class with a greater appreciation for all things scientific. She has been instrumental in bringing Students to Science, a program which allows students to work with volunteer scientists in actual lab settings, to East Hanover Middle School. Additionally, Ms Lauritsen is committed to the restructuring of the science curriculums as new science standards are incorporated into the current academic model.
One of Ms. Lauritsen’s greatest assets is her ability to incorporate technology and experimentation into her lessons. Her students utilize SmartBoard and ChromeBook technology on a daily basis and her science labs instill key concepts while making learning fun and exciting.
Ms. Lauritsen also rocks outside the classroom! She is the cheerleading coach and chaperones the annual 8th grade trip to Washington, DC. She is currently furthering her education as she completes course work towards he master’s degree.
Because no one can rival Ms. Lauritsen’s energy for science, we honor her as a Teacher Who Rocks!
MRS. ROBIN POPIELARZ
Science Teacher at Saint Anne School in Fair Lawn
Mrs. Popielarz thinks outside the box in her science classes. She immerses her students in whatever they are learning as exhibited by her almost daily use of science labs and the experiments she has her students perform. She takes her students outside to use the school’s greenhouse for lessons in plant life, soil erosion, and condensation. Much of the time, she personally purchases the items she needs to supply her students with what they need in the lab to perform their experiments.
Her annual class trip is to Sandy Hook where her students physically get in the ocean to take a hands-on look at marine life off the coast of New Jersey. She keeps her students interested and excited about science, and she is appreciated and acclaimed by the students and their parents.
Because of her hands on approach to the science field, we honor Mrs. Popielarz as a Teacher Who Rocks.
MRS. JENNIFER SALTZMAN
Art Teacher at Walter T Bergen Middle School in Bloomingdale
Since she began teaching at Walter T. Bergen Middle School in 2011, Mrs. Saltzman has brought her passion and excitement for the arts to the school. After her “rookie” year in 2011-12, Mrs. Saltzman was instrumental in approaching administration to begin an after school art club. In the inaugural year, there were maybe 20 students involved, however, this year, Mrs. Saltzman has close to 60 students participating, which equates to about 22% of the school population. Under her direction, the art club has engaged in various projects to help “dress up” the school by promoting a positive image as well as school spirit! For example, Mrs. Saltzman took the lead in having her club paint a mural in the boy’s locker room of the school’s mascot, a Bobcat! She also helped design the school’s letters W-T-B along with a Bobcat which adorns the front entrance for all students and guests to see as they enter the building.
With respect to the classroom curriculum, Mrs. Saltzman has developed fun and creative lessons like “Monsters vs Aliens” which challenges students to think of themselves as animators for Dreamworks. The end result is creating a 2-dimensional drawing into 3D.
Besides her creative lessons, Mrs. Saltzman began a Spring Art show to coincide with the Annual Spring Concert. On this evening, the school hallways are adorned with the various works of art created by her budding artists. During the annual Holiday Concert, Mrs. Saltzman leads the way in having her classes prepare festive decorations to hang in the hallways and gymnasium (since the school does not have an auditorium)! Many of her students have entered contests around the state and some have won awards and had their work displayed in different venues as well.
Because of her unending energy for the arts and her desire to get the best from her students, we congratulate Mrs. Jennifer Saltzman as a Teacher Who Rocks!
MR. JOSEPH DILASCIO
3rd Grade at Cedar Hill Elementary School in Montville
Mr. DiLascio makes learning fun! With students at all different levels and abilities, he is able to reach all of them at their level. He approaches every day with a smile, words of encouragement, and makes the learning environment non-threatening. He stays on top of all current trends for kids and incorporates these things into daily life in the classroom. At the end of the day, students who came in to class crying because they had to do math left the classroom saying that math was their new favorite subject thanks to Mr. DiLascio.
For his ability to connect his subject to students of all levels, we honor Mr. Joseph DiLascio as a Teacher Who Rocks.