We are proud to welcome the following teachers to the WDHA Teachers Who Rock Class of 2019
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ESP OF THE YEAR
MRS. LAURA AMEEN
Classroom Assistant at Sparta High School
Nominated by: Dorothy Talty, Co-Teacher
Mrs. Laura Ameen shows respect, care, and compassion for each of the students she encounters. On a typical day, you can see Mrs. Ameen walking around the classroom seeking someone who might need her help. She guides and facilitates with a quiet, comforting, and encouraging voice. You will also find her taking notes to enhance the notes of a student who may not have yet developed that skill. Mrs. Ameen makes a point of meeting with a teacher after class and is prepared to fill them in on conversations about the struggles any particular student had that day. She is the first one to acknowledge and celebrate a student’s success in the classroom.
Mrs. Ameen is the ultimate professional, but also kind and giving. She recently participated in a fundraiser in which funds were collected for a fellow teacher who was displaced due to a fire in their home. Finally, here are just a few quotes of how Mrs. Ameen’s students feel about her:
“She is pretty dope”
“She does everything for me! She is my school mom”
“She always asks how we are, she really cares about us”
Because of these endorsements, we honor Mrs. Laura Ameen as a Teacher Who Rocks.
4th Grade Teacher at St. Michael Parish School in Union
Nominated by: Rosanne Defiore, parent of student
Mrs. Donna Hely is the dedicated and selfless teacher that all teachers strive to be. Always placing the education and well being of her students first, Mrs. Hely’s success is the result of many things. She is a kind and nurturing teacher who can communicate easily with her students. This helps her identify potential learning barriers her students might have while also allowing her to identify talented and gifted students. She makes certain all students receive the attention required to allow them to learn and develop at their highest levels.
Mrs. Hely is also extremely hard working. Due to space constraints, St. Michael’s has 2 classrooms of each grade except each year, 2 classes are combined into 1 due to classroom space. She has volunteered for the last 2 years to teach the double sized class despite not receiving any additional help or resources. She volunteered because she wanted to do the difficult job so that other less experienced teachers do not have to take on the class.
Mrs. Hely is also very generous with her students. She brings exciting special projects and fun learning activities to her class throughout the school year. Most of these are created by her in her free time and at her own expense to make learning fun and outside of the box for her students. For these reasons and many more, we honor Mrs. Hely as a Teacher Who Rocks.
2nd Grade Teacher at Cedar Hill School in Basking Ridge
Nominated by: Jessica Harrigan, Parent
Mrs. Kathleen Heitmann keeps her classroom fun, friendly, and warm. The instant you enter the room, you know you’re somewhere special. Whether it’s the Snoopy theme, the photos of her students, or just the simple, genuine smile that’s always on her face, you just feel happy in her space. Mrs. Heitmann’s student adore her and come back to visit all the time. She plays music in the morning so that her kids are walking in and rocking out!
Mrs. Heitmann genuinely cares about her students. She makes a point of reaching out to parents if someone seems “off” and is always there with a shoulder and a Kleenex if a kid is having a rough day. She is a full-fledged Rock Star for her class.
No one at Cedar Hill School can measure up to Mrs. Heitmann. Her students are grateful for her care and support and because of that, we welcome her to the Teachers Who Rock Class of 2019.
Pre-K3 Teacher at Brandt School in Hoboken
Nominated by: Joanne Moloughney, Special Education Aide
Mrs. Shannon Moloughney is a young, dedicated professional who works tirelessly for her students. She has been teaching Pre-K3 at Brandt School in Hoboken since 2013 and was recognized for her efforts by being named the Head PreK-3 Teacher. With this title came the added responsibility of checking and reviewing the lesson plans of all Pre-K3 teacher at Brandt. She also collaborates with the head Pre-K4 Teacher on what monthly activities should be included in lessons. She then runs the Pre-K3 teacher meeting to ensure the monthly activity is incorporated into their lessons. Mrs. Moloughney was recognized by the building principal for being a model classroom teacher and was named a Fish Bowl Teacher at Brandt School.
On a daily basis, Mrs. Moloughney arrives at school early and stays late preparing her lessons. She proudly displays her children’s classwork and artwork around the classroom. Her lessons are always well prepared and thought out. For her meteoric rise at The Brandt School, we honor Mrs. Moloughney as a Teacher Who Rocks.
2nd Grade Teacher at #3 Elementary School Fairfield
Nominated by: Rock Murphy, Co-Teacher
Ms. Jessica Brown works relentlessly to get through to her students. She often has many ESL students that have managed to make it to her with a kindergarten reading level. Nevertheless, she gets them ready for 3rd grade every single time. Students from a troubled background always know that they have a home in her classroom where they are always safe and secure. Ms. Brown is a great communicator with her student’s parents, even though some speak another language or are culturally different.
Ms. Brown’s old students are always coming back to tell her about their new favorite books, give her a gift, or tell her that their younger sibling wants to be in her class too. She inspires both her students and colleagues to push harder and give more to others. She may just seem like a 2nd grade teacher, but to the Number 3 School, she is a gift and that is why she is a Teacher Who Rocks.
First Grade Teacher at Hillview Elementary School
Nominated by: Sarah Callaghan, Co-Teacher
Mrs. Michele Ruggiero is a teacher who is passionate, hardworking, innovative, and will do this all while having a smile on her face. She never faces down a challenge. She was moved to first grade after teaching fifth grade for most of her career. It is a big change, but she took it in stride. Mrs. Ruggiero is never afraid to try something new and embrace the unknown.
She has a great professional learning network and is always out to find new ideas. She is never complacent; she will work countless hours to make lessons the best they can be for the students. Mrs. Ruggiero shares all of her work and techniques with any one of her colleagues. She understands how to relate to any student and for this has changed countless lives. Mrs. Ruggiero will often be seen out at town events cheering on her students! For being a resource and cheerleader for everyone around her, we honor Mrs. Ruggiero as a Teacher Who Rocks.
7th Grade Special Education Teacher at Mount Olive Middle School
Nominated by: Kelly Gorton, Co-Teacher
Mrs. Jamie Greifenberger is a great role model for teachers and students alike and she is one of the most creative people in the school. She constantly creates engaging lessons for her students. You will often see them moving around the room, making a human number line, or creating an equation using manipulatives. She is also an amazing co teacher, providing special needs students with the accommodations they need to celebrate success while supporting and enhancing the regular education teacher in the general education classroom.
With students, Mrs. Greifenberger is kind, patient, compassionate, respectful, and consistent with her expectations. Her students work in her class because they know what is expected of them and they know they will be respected and will receive the help and support that they need. Mrs. Greifenberger also tutors students who cannot attend school because of serious health issues. Her compassion for these and all of her students demonstrate her ability to guide and facilitate under any circumstance. In the past two years she has been nominated for Teacher of the Year by colleagues and students. With parents, she is honest and respectful when highlighting students’ strengths and offering modifications in IEP and guidance meetings. Mrs. Greifenberger keeps a list of her students’ accomplishments, calling home at least once a year with good news.
Mrs. Greifenberger is always there to lend an ear and give good advice, whether it be personal or professional. She is always motivated to continue mastering her craft and advocate for her students. She participated in the “NJ Assesment Collaborative” to listen to fellow colleagues and voice her opinion about state testing and how it affects her population of students. For being a teacher that can be looked up to both by her students and her colleagues, we honor Mrs. Greifenberger as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Middle School ESL Teacher atGeorge Washington Middle School
Nominated by: Kimberly Kristin, Co-Teacher
Ms. Carol Olive is an extraordinary teacher who makes her classroom more than just a place to learn for her students but a comfortable home in a new country. She heads up the ESL department teaching English to middle schoolers who have just arrive in America, often from countries struggling with revolution and poverty. Ms. Olive immediately make her students know that they are safe and at home at school. She opens up her room during her free periods as a safe place for students to get peer tutored, help them with their high school applications, share opportunities, connect them with coaches so they can make friends through sports, and serves as an incredible liaison with any issue they or their families may have coming to a new country. She ensures that students can attend trips and activities, participate in spirit days, and have yearbooks to capture their memories. It is her mission to make even the newest arrivals feel empowered as learners, organizing numerous events to have them become teachers, feeling pride in their culture and country.
One particular event that she runs every year is the ESL International Luncheon. Students are encouraged to bring in a dish and present articles they have written about their native country to all of their teachers. Ms. Olive is always seeking out opportunities for the students, whether organizing incredible field trips to the Statue of Liberty, Museum of Natural History, and Liberty Science Center. For all she has done for the newest students in both George Washington Middle School and New Jersey, we honor Ms. Olive as a Teacher Who Rocks.
10th Grade English Teacher at Morris Knolls High School
Nominated by: Rich Luttenberger, Co-Teacher
Mr. Jason Collinsworth is not only well-liked and respected by both peers and students, he also goes above and beyond on a regular basis. He is a mentor to new teachers and also serves as an advisor to the Spectrum club, which promotes creativity and literacy all year and culminating in the publication of their annual magazine of student and staff originals. Mr. Collinsworth also helps Spectrum raise money for scholarships through their biggest fundraiser: The Spectrum Coffeehouse. The coffeehouse is a great event where students and teachers gather to watch their peers perform live music and poetry.
Mr. Collinsworth is the English Department’s SAT expert, teaching an SAT prep class, leading the SAT boot camp, and tutoring SAT prep students as well. He is also an advisor for the National Honor Society and used to be the volunteer advisor for the Literary Society, a club he formed in his early years in the school.
Mr. Collinsworth is a down to earth teacher who makes learning fun. He often seeks new and creative ways to engage his students, and he incorporates hands on challenges such as escape rooms and dramatic readings. He used to teach a rocking class called Shakespeare Workshop where he shared his passion for the greatest playwright in the English language through a variety of interactive and fun lessons all year. His students learned firsthand what people meant when they said that Shakespeare should be seen and heard, not read, as they often took part in their own plays and presentations. His class won a large competition at Drew University’s Shakespeare Theater just a few years ago.
Because of all of these accomplishments, Mr. Collinsworth was named Morris Knolls’ Teacher of The Year in 2010 and we are now proud to welcome him to our 2019 Teachers Who Rock Class.
French Teacher at Columbia Middle School in Berkeley
Nominated by: Laurie Liming, co-Teacher
Mrs. Ashlee Combe’s vivid lessons come to life through all of the senses. She is a hands-on teacher who makes learning exciting. Her students are invited to cook French Cuisine and enjoy French culture to help immerse them in the subject and her assignments are designed to engage even the most reluctant of students.
Mrs. Combe recently organized the annual class trip to Quebec. This trip is not sponsored by the district, so the responsibility of planning the entire event falls solely on her shoulders. While approximately 40 seventh and eighth graders traveled the eight hours by bus to Quebec, Mrs. Combe managed to entertain them with music and laughter. While in Quebec, the students experienced French cuisine, historical museums, and even had the pleasure of dogsledding. For her going above and beyond to give her students this experience, we honor Mrs. Ashlee Combe as a Teacher Who Rocks.
7th & 8th Grade Teacher at North Plainfield Middle School
Nominated by: Karen Bissett, Certified School Nurse
Ms. Robyn Enderle is known by the students to be a teacher who cares about them. She has been teaching in North Plainfield for 19 years and demonstrates a natural ability to connect with her adolescent students. That connection builds trusting relationships and creates a safe, positive, and productive learning environment. Sports are her universal language. Get any group of kids together, get them playing a game, and suddenly they are all part of the team.
Ms. Enderle is always there for her students, making sure all of them are included and helping them through each activity. In addition to being an outstanding Phys Ed teacher, Ms. Enderle is an excellent coach. Her North Plainfield coaching resume includes coaching field hockey, girls basketball, boys basketball, flag football, and track. She is patient, caring, and kind both in the classroom and on the court. She teaches her students life-lessons while teaching them sports. Ms. Enderle knows that coaching young athletes is not just about winning, it’s about teaching her athletes how to play together, how to work together, how to win and lose together, and how to have fun. In the classroom, on the field, or on the court Ms. Enderlee praises her students for a job well done and because of that, we honor her as a Teacher Who Rocks.
4th Grade Teacher at Hillview Elementary School
Nominated by Patricia Bellas, Co-Teacher
Mrs. Kristin Tartaglia isn’t just a teacher who rocks, she was also awarded the Governor’s Educator of the Year Award for Hillview School for the 2018-19 school year. She works tirelessly to create engaging and creative lessons, plan interactive activities for her students, and goes the extra mile to make certain that her students are successful. Over the course of the school year, she gets to know her students and becomes invested in their success. Her classroom is a place where her students are encouraged to do their best every day. To ensure this, she is often there before school and during her lunch period helping students who need a little bit of extra support, and at school late into the evening planning innovative lessons, reading students journals, and providing feedback. Without a doubt, Mrs. Tartaglia’s efforts have been beneficial to her students as indicated by her student’s highly effective PARCC scores.
Mrs. Tartaglia is an active member of the Hillview School community. She has been the coordinator of the Hillview theme committee for several years. Each year, Mrs. Tartaglia meets with a committee of teachers to determine an original school wide theme with an inspiring message for the students. Additionally, Mrs. Tartaglia can be found buzzing about each Spring coordinating the annual Hillview Spelling Bee. Mrs. Tartaglia is also a member of the Hillview Consultative Team. She works cooperatively with teachers and the school administrator to address education concerns. Finally, she has worked with students to collect donations for the Pequannock Animal Shelter on several occasions. For her commitment to the Hillview school community and her classroom, we honor Mrs. Tartaglia as a teacher who rocks.
6th Grade Math Teacher at Rockaway Valley School
Nominated by Diane Lorber, co-teacher
Ms. Lauren Savage is a driven, organized teacher who develops inspiring relationships with her students and colleagues. She has always held her students to the same high standards she holds for herself. As a master teacher, she is a lifelong learner who encourages her students to achieve their best, while providing them with the tools necessary for success. Ms. Savage is extremely knowledgeable in all content areas, but her true passion is sharing the joy of math. Her ability to connect with her students and her talent at teaching simple concepts, as well as more advanced topics, are truly exceptional. She has also developed excellent relationships with parents, colleagues, and administrators. She accomplishes all these tasks with great initiative and with a positive attitude. Because of her boundless energy, quick wit, and contagious laugh, we welcome Ms. Lauren Savage to the Teachers Who Rock class for 2019.
9th-10th Grade Special Education Teacher at Randolph High School
Nominated by Kristen Maus, Co-teacher
Mr. Brian Hoesly is the quintessential model of a talented teacher who contributes greatly to the success of students at Randolph High School. Though he’s only taught for four years, Mr. Hoesly’s teaching methods are methodical and well-versed. He is willing to try endless methods and lessons to reach the needs of his students. Mr. Hoesly currently co-teachers world and U.S. History classes in addition to AP Seminar, acting as both an advocate instructor for special education students, as well as a master of the history curriculum.
Mr. Hoesly reaches students through countless project-based learning assignments which include Socratic seminars, student made podcasts, and hands-on activities. He has multi-dimensional lessons which address various learning styles and infuse technology, videos, reading, writing, and cross-curricular material. Mr. Hoesly brings an element of laughter and fun to the classroom on a daily basis. His historical impersonations are spot-on and his classroom music choices are always a hit.
Mr. Hoesly is extremely organized and has a fantastic rapport with parents due to his communication skills. He continuously works to build relationships through the building and can often be found helping the child study team with an IEP, collaborating with fellow colleagues, or even welcoming staff into the main office in the morning.
Lastly, when not in the classroom, Mr. Hoesly involves himself in the Randolph school community in various ways. He is the assistant golf coach, key club advisor, ski club advisor, and Class of 2021 advisor. For his complete dedication to the Randolph community, we honor Mr. Brian Hoesly as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Pre K- 2 Physical Education Teacher at Edith M. Decker Elementary School
Nominated by Jeff Grillo, Principal
Mrs. Marlen Tomosieski is a dynamic teacher and positive role model for the students at Edith M. Decker Elementary School. She always encourages good sportsmanship, overall healthy living, and for her students to always try their best. Mrs. Tomosieksi has a superior ability to inspire students of all background and abilities to learn. She has taken it upon herself to become certified in Adaptive PE to better create an instructional program for her students with disabilities. Mrs. Tomosieski has the respect and admiration of students, parents, colleagues, and administration. She is the ultimate team player and her dedication to her profession and students is inspirational. For being a truly amazing educator and role model for her community, we honor Mrs. Marlen Tomosieski as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Language Arts Special Education Teacher at Liberty Middle School
Nominated by Todd Cohen, Learning Consultant
Ms. Maryann Solimo has been a leader at Liberty Middle School with regards to reading and helping others in the school. She hosts a regular pajama party at night for elementary school students throughout the town where adults and students at Liberty volunteer to read to the young people. Ms. Solimo also runs a Read across the World program where people drop scratch off envelopes all across the world and the recipient can mail the scratch off in to Maryann for a book. She is a well-respected language arts teacher who has a true love for reading. She mentors new educators and spend a great deal of her free time and money on promoting literacy. For her dedication to the written word, we honor Ms. Solimo as a Teacher Who Rocks.
7th Grade Science Teacher at Lincoln Park Middle School
Nominated by Michael Meyer, Principal
Mrs. Judy DeJosia is a science teacher who understands how to connect to her students. Her lessons often begin with a song that is relevant to what they are learning and the students sing along each morning as the chosen song applies to the entire unit. Her students often gather around the Smart Board, seated on the floors, as Mrs. DeJosia presents information that serves to introduce a concept or review what they have been learning. The interactive nature of her class encourages her students to share ideas and take risks. She trains her students to compliment or respectfully challenge on another’s ideas. Mrs. DeJosia strives to differentiate her lessons, even her labs, so that students with different abilities are able to find success in learning.
Mrs. DeJosia also serves as a teacher in the Academic Assistant program, which is an after-school program for students to get help while doing homework. She is able to assist students with their homework in any subject, not just science. Mrs. DeJosia is also the team leader for the 7th grade team, serving as a liaison for parents to arrange meetings or address student needs. She also participates on Team LPMS, a group of teachers that runs a Spartan mud race every year. She and her colleagues train for this event each spring and it has forged a healthy bond among those who participate.
With all of that said, Mrs. DeJosia’s greatest school-wide impact is the organic gaden in the school’s courtyard. She plants a variety of vegetables including kales, grapes, potatoes, lettuce, and tomatoes. Students who volunteer to help learn about gardening and are given seeds to plant at home. When they harvest, they get to sample the fruits of their labor. Mrs. DeJosia stays late after school and comes in throughout the summer to help ensure the garden is watered and weeded. When poison ivy became an unmanageable problem last year, Mrs. DeJosia proposed a unique plan. Three Nigerian goats came to live in the LPMS courtyard that, in turn, cleared all the poison ivy and other unwanted plants out of the garden, readying it for planting in the spring and keeping it completely organic. The three guests were a favorite of the students and the counselors even found students were more willing to open up when petting the goats. For here dedication to science, her students, and for the school’s community, we honor Mrs. DeJosia as a Teacher Who Rocks.
6-8 Grade Reading Specialist at Mount Olive Middle School
Nominated by Jamie Greifenberger, Special Education Math Teacher
Ms. Kelly Gorton, a Reading Specials at Mount Olive Middle School, works with students who are classified as special needs as well as those who are general education students to help them bridge the gaps they face with dignity. She helps boost confidence so that they aren’t afraid to take a risk sounding out a new word or using context clues to figure out a word’s meaning. The gains made in her classroom are harder to see because students in middle school are expected to already have the skill she teaches, but the impact she has on her students is monumental.
Aside from being a reading specialist, Ms. Gorton continues to go above and beyond by teaching her students responsibilities associated with life outside of school. For coming to class, good behavior, and working hard, Ms. Gorton pays her students a salary. She also charges them rent weekly so that they start to see that as quickly as money comes in, it can go right back out. Once rent is paid, students can use their remaining money for extras in class, such as sitting in a fun chair, picking a prize from the prize box, or choosing to eat lunch with their teacher. She is always the first to pitch in if a student or fellow staff member is in need. For being a kind and thoughtful teacher for her students and colleagues, we honor Ms. Gorton as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Health & Physical Education Teacher at Roosevelt School
Nominated by Gerry Montague, Program Director
Mr. George Putvinski, or Mr. P as his students call him, embodies the creativity, energy, and commitment students need to learn, excel, and give back to their community. Mr. P has been at Roosevelt School in Manville for 15 years and during that time, he’s seen several changes and challenges. He is constantly coming up with solutions to help educate and energize students. In his health classes, Mr. P pairs bilingual students who can assist students with limited English skills. When he can’t do that, he uses Google Translate and shares lessons in as many languages as possible. No student gets left out. Mr. P also understands cultural barriers and is sensitive to those needs to make sure that his students are part of the group.
Mr. P is constantly teaching in unique ways. He has several posters focusing on the nervous and skeletal-muscular systems in his gym and before every activity asks “what part of the body are we using?”
Mr. P also leads Roosevelt’s Safe Routes to School program. On the first Friday of every month in the school year, a large number of students walk to school because it’s fun and healthy! Mr. P leads a group of more than 25 students from the most distant part of the town. November was the Disney themed walk and to celebrate he dressed in a full Tigger costume. Every month, even in the winter, he gets 50-60 students walking or biking to school. For his dedication to the health of his students, we honor Mr. George Putvinski as a Teacher Who Rocks.
Math Teacher at Woodcliff Middle School
Nominated by Julia Ogden, Team Leader
What makes Ms. Beth McIntyre a Teacher Who Rocks is the multi-dimensional ways she supports and enriches the whole community. She is the primary planner of the 6th grader trip to Sharpe Reservation. Year after year, she plans to take 100 sixth graders, many of whom have never been away from home, on a three day trip into the woods to teach them a new appreciation for nature. Not only do they learn team building, but they also create many a lasting friendship during this field trip.
What does Ms. McIntyre do at Woodcliff Middle School? The better question is what doesn’t she do! Ms. MacIntyre plans multiple events and field trips, designs schedules for 300 students that incorporates 20 subjects, designs and sews costumes for the school plays, creates handmade gifts for all occasions, and supports the school teams each season. For all of her encouragement and support of her co-workers, students, and her community, we honor Ms. Beth McIntyre as a teacher who rocks.
9-12 Grade Teacher of Mathematics at Irvington High School
Nominated by: John Taylor, Athletic Director/Supervisor Physical Education
Mr. Elias Brantley’s contributions towards improving the lives of his schools goes well beyond the classroom. He takes it upon himself to offer before school, lunch, and after school tutoring to scholars struggling to help their classroom performance.
Mr. Brantley also serves as the head coach of the boys basketball team at the school but does not start practice until 5pm so he can offer tutoring to all students and facilitate a study hall for his basketball players. He is in constant communication with the guidance department and the school athletic director to stay apprised of the athletic eligibility of his players, and is instrumental in helping establish academic intervention programs aimed at identifying accommodations students need to improve their classroom performance. Due to his effort, 100% of Mr. Brantley’s players were academically eligible to play this season. On his own, Mr. Brantley also tutored a college-bound student-athlete to help improve their summer school grade to meet NCAA eligibility requirements. He took this on because he believed it was the right thing to do.
Many of Mr. Brantley’s players come from economically disadvantaged households. In order to help his player purchase new equipment, he started his own screen printing business, and raises funds for his players by selling apparel to Irvington community members. He takes those profits and provides his players with the attire they wouldn’t be able to afford on their own. For his dedication in the classroom and on the court, we honor Mr. Elias Brantley as a Teacher Who Rocks.