Congratulations to the Following Teachers!

  • LISA CRATE

    Media Specialist
    Jackson School District

    Throughout her teaching career, Lisa Crate has worked tirelessly to promote the success of her students, colleagues and community. 

    Ms. Crate has worked in the Jackson School District for over 20 years. She received Teacher of the Year honors in 2000 and 2015 when she was named Educational Services Professional of the Year for the district. She also currently serves as the president of the Jackson Education Association Union, and she’s a Brick Township Councilwoman.  

    Ms. Crate always moves those people she encounters forward academically, socially, and emotionally. She is a super hero; everything she does is for the good of her students, school family, and community; never looking for or expecting recognition. For all these reasons and more, Lisa Crate is an ESP Who Rocks! 

  • JACLYN GRABOWSKI

    Teacher
    Lillian M Dunfee School

    Jaclyn Grabowski is one of the kindest, most empathetic and caring people one could know. She has such a pure heart and truly tries her best to make sure each and every child in the room not only has a wonderful academic experience but has the social emotional support that is so important, especially throughout the pandemic. She is a hard-working team player who always has a beautiful smile on her face. 

    Jaclyn goes above and beyond to help each child succeed in her room.  There are always fun experiments going on in the science area and she encourages every child to participate in various activities. The students are happy to see her first thing in the morning and don’t want to leave at the end of the day because they are having so much fun.  

    Jaclyn actively volunteers for different committees around the building and is part of the Sunshine Club and PTA. She is always willing to lend a hand to whoever is in need. She is also getting ready to participate with her class in the school-wide fashion and art shows, and there will undoubtedly be more to come before the end of the year. 

    For all these reasons and more Jaclyn Grabowski is a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • KELLY VILLARDI

    School Nurse
    Forked River Elementary School

    Although not an educator by cookie cutter definition, Kelly provides medical knowledge to students, staff and parents with great care and ease. She has helped make students feel comfortable with their medical diagnoses by providing mini lessons within classrooms. She has an ability to make a student feel cared for whether they walk in after taking a basketball to the nose or with a simple paper cut on their finger. Her ‘bedside manner’ and compassion are probably some of the main reasons she has many frequent visitors.  

    School nurses have taken on many more responsibilities as the pandemic has gone on, and Kelly makes sure to be well versed in ever-changing policies and procedures to keep everyone safe. She spends early mornings, late nights and weekends answering emails, phone calls and text messages. Her stamina is to be admired as she often leaves after a long day of taking care of students to start a shift at the hospital to assist with staffing issues.  

    When Kelly is in the halls, she is a friendly light, and she always stops to answer questions that come her way. She also works closely with the counselor when some students need a little extra assistance under the mental health umbrella. Kelly Villardi is a true team player, and a Teacher Who Rocks!

  • GRETCHEN FREUND

    Basic Skills Instructor and Teacher of Special Education
    Manchester Township Elementary School

    Gretchen Freund is a dedicated educational professional who brings excitement and enthusiasm to her students, their families and district staff every day. She initiated the BROADCAST NEWS Program (a daily webcasting/Television Program) several years ago. Today this program can be viewed by all students, their families and the Manchester Community.  

    Gretchen coordinates a multitude of events for the school, including the Barnes and Noble Night fundraiser for school literacy enhancement, Pancakes with Parents in the morning, family TEAM nights, and the Exercise Your Mind with Reading Challenge. 

    Gretchen is on numerous school committees, she is actively involved in Peer Mediation, Junior IMPACT club, and she is an anti-bullying specialist, often working with the school Guidance Counselor to help promote school-wide positivity and respect. 

    Gretchen is frequently a mentor for new teachers, which is hardly surprising as she is without question a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • LISA SOLTMANN

    Math Teacher
    Jackson Memorial High School

    Lisa Soltmann is a math teacher at Jackson Memorial High School. Nominated by her colleague Arlene Wacha, she says that Lisa has taught students with many disabilities, even sever quadriplegics have learned higher levels of math over the years. She raises their self-esteem and many hundreds benefit throughout their careers. She possess many degrees and teaching certifications to help children of all ages. The students’ families are impressed with her ability to take the most difficult concepts to the epitome of phases. When a student reaches adulthood and returns with thanks, she beams with delight. Through the years, Ms. Soltmann has her own family to nurture, but devotes hours to her students, colleagues, and community.  Like so many families cancer, tumors, and surgeries have been part of the big picture. Every personal hurdle teaches her lessons that need to be shared.  She is a team player and molds each child into a star that she keeps in her heart. In or out of her classroom she treats each child as a masterpiece of art. She has been a coach, an advisor, a mentor, and a listener.  All will agree that her contagious smile makes all lives brightener. Ms. Soltmann teaches math using real life examples with fun and limericks. Lisa is a STEM adviser, finds paid internships for junior & senior students, and chairs of the school sunshine club. With all the hours she spends in the building, one would think she “lives” at school. Well she’s going to have to cut out early on April 27th so she can receive her award at our banquet at Spring Lake Manor to recognize her as a “Teacher Who Rocks.”

  • STEPHANIE WHELAN

    Spanish Teacher
    Red Bank Primary School

    Stephanie Whelan is the Spanish teacher at Red Bank Primary School. Nominated by fellow teacher Rachel DeBari, who says if you look up “kind” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Mrs. Whelan. Stephanie is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet, and Red Bank Primary School is so incredibly lucky to have her as the Spanish teacher. Stephanie is known for always finding the “silver lining” in tough situations. It’s who she is. Stephanie sees the best in every situation and the best in every student. She makes a conscious effort to treat each student the way she would want her own children to be treated by their teachers.  Stephanie’s kindness is contagious. Rachel continues by saying Stephanie inspires everyone she comes in contact with to be a better person, students and staff alike.  She has a way of making you reflect on your own decisions, problems, and situations that always helps you come out more grounded.  In these trying times, we all need a Stephanie Whelan in our lives, and at Red Bank Primary School we are luckier than she will ever know. Stephanie works on the cutest group project with her classes.  Projects like this take a lot of prep work that she often does at home outside of school hours.  Stephanie has also taken it upon herself to “adopt” families during the winter holiday season.  One year, Stephanie and her family adopted a family that had 3 students in our school, a student in pre-k, and several older siblings in high school and college.  Stephanie bought gifts and necessities for EACH SIBLING, even the older ones whom she had never taught. She is also involved in our school PTO events such as Harvest Festival and International Night. All of these qualities make Stephanie Whelan of Red Bank Primary School a “Teacher Who Rocks!”

  • TONIANN PALMIERI

    Kindergarten Teacher
    Bayville Elementary School 

    Mrs. Palmieri is one of those teachers who has it all and is one of a kind! Teaching kindergarten means more than just ABC’s and 123’s.  Her classroom celebrates kindness and nourishes a sense of pride. Mrs. Palmieri explains kindness can be as simple as an exchange of a smile, a wave, or a hug.  Instinctively, she knows this is one of the greatest gifts she can give to her students. 

    Mrs. Palmieri helps children develop self-esteem and self-respect.  Students with various language barriers and/or abilities are paired with knowledgeable buddies!  Mrs. Palmieri allows the buddies to be tour guides and act as mentors.  She fosters this type of confidence and independence in all of her students.  In addition, Mrs. Palmieri understands the importance of individuality.  She celebrates cultures, languages,  and traditions by allowing children to share and present their customs to the class. She has the natural ability to inspire each and every one of her students. 

    Bayville School is extremely lucky to have such a wonderful teacher who inspires students and staff alike.  She is funny, humble, honest, and fair.  Mrs. Palmieri leads her building to greatness, and the community as well.  She supports local fundraisers, raises awareness for World Heart Day, and mentors new teachers. When others follow her lead, MAGIC happens, and children need this magic now, more than ever! 

    Mrs. Palmieri received the Teacher of Year award in 2019, and now she is a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • KARINA TEDESCHI

    Spanish Teacher 
    Red Bank Regional High School 

    Karina Tedeschi ceaselessly supports her colleagues and students through acts of kindness. When you’re having a bad day, Karina has already bought you a cup of coffee or tea to make sure you get back on track. She is a great friend and an excellent teacher. Karina supports her colleagues constantly, always ready with a compliment and appreciation. 

    Karina constantly works to make sure all of her students’ needs are met, spending extra time with her students whenever they need to make sure they understand the material. Karina also serves as a freshmen mentor, guiding students through their first year in a new, challenging environment and ensuring that they pass their classes and get the most out of their time at RBR. 

    Karina Tedeschi has been nominated as Teacher of the Year, and now this major asset to the Red Bank Regional community is recognized as a Teacher Who Rocks! 

  • CATHERINE THOMPSEN

    School Nurse
    H & M Potter School, Bayville 

    Catherine Thompsen joined the staff at H & M Potter School during one of the most difficult times possible, mid-pandemic.  Challenges faced each day within a school have increased considerably for everyone, especially the school nurse, and during this time Mrs. Thompsen has been a steady resource for students, staff, and parents alike. 

    Mrs. Thompsen has created a nurse’s office where students feel welcomed and cared for, which is necessary when they are not feeling their best.  Whether it is Covid related, talking to a worried parent, or bandaging a scraped knee, Mrs. Thompsen shows incredible patience and compassion in all that she does.  

    The entire H & M Potter School family feels incredibly lucky to have Mrs. Thompsen there, and we’re thrilled to honor her as a Teacher Who Rocks! 

  • JEN FAZZINI

    AP Biology Teacher
    Toms River High School East  

    Jen Fazzini is an incredibly dedicated teacher who strives to make her students be the best possible “scientists” out there. Her passion and knowledge for science and biology curriculum is truly amazing. 

    Jen is tough as nails and requires her students to work hard in order to be successful. She is demanding in the classroom, but she still makes learning fun. Jen takes every concern of her students personally.  She wants them to be successful by working hard, not giving handouts.  

    In addition to her classroom duties, Jen is also the co-advisor for Student Council, and she encourages her students to experience the best that high school has to offer by being involved in the school community.   

    A graduate of TR East herself, Jen Fazzini promotes her passion for TR every day. She is one of the most respected teachers in town, and she is most definitely a Teacher Who Rocks! 

  • TRACY VANNORTWICK

    Special Education Teacher- Autism
    Cedar Creek Elementary School, Lanoka Harbor

    Tracy has worked tirelessly in the autism program at Cedar Creek School. Even on the most challenging days, she greets everyone with a smile and a positive attitude. Her students require extra attention and compassion, and she provides that daily. The best part about Tracy is that even when her students have difficult days, she gives them a new start each day. She does not hold a grudge or treat them with less affection than she did the day before.

    Tracy is a team player who encourages the staff that works in her room, and she always up for a challenge when new students enter her classroom. She encompasses all the wonderful qualities of a dedicated special education teacher! 

    Tracy has helped create the autism program at Cedar Creek, and she has continued to educate herself on the most up-to-date strategies in autism.  She is always open to feedback from administrators and other professionals. She is not afraid to ask for help and takes each suggestion with an open mind.  

    For all these reasons and more, Tracy VanNortwick is a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • CHRISTIAN KANE

    Math Teacher
    Toms River High School North

    Mr. Kane is a teacher that cares about the kids in and out of the classroom.  He has a great personality and makes learning enjoyable. Mr. Kane is an example of someone who has taken teaching outside of the classroom. He is a teacher, coach, advisor, and he founded the Field of Dreams for handicapped children. It isn’t just about the classroom and education, it’s about the “childhood experience” for Mr. Kane, making sure every child can be a kid no matter what their circumstances in life. 

    The Field of Dreams makes it possible for children with disabilities to feel the joys that the typical child gets to everyday. Whether it be handicapped accessible swings or baseball fields, Mr. Kane is creating a world for children that they did not even think was possible. 

    Without question, Christian Kane is tirelessly dedicated to his students and community, and he is most certainly a Teacher Who Rocks! 

  • LISA J. HANKINS

    1st Grade Teacher
    Walnut Street Elementary School, Toms River  

    Lisa Hankins is a stellar teacher and person who goes above and beyond her daily responsibilities by ensuring her students always remain her number one priority. Lisa is kind, caring, considerate, and incredibly talented. She puts her heart and soul into her job and that dedication shines through daily. Lisa is an exceptional educator who is loved by parents, students, and colleagues. 

    It is not uncommon for Lisa to come in early, stay late, and dedicate her own time to not only her students but the entire student population. On Visit the School night, Lisa is often last in the building because she wants to make sure her parents are prepared for the year. She is such a positive role model for everyone she meets. 

    Lisa volunteers her time for a number of committees, including school spirit, pandemic-response, and school improvement. Lisa never hesitates to volunteer her time and resources to support the schools. With over thirty years of experience, she is a model teacher for her colleagues to learn from and work with.  

    Lisa is a two-time Teacher of the Year award winner, and now she’s also recognized as a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • KIM WALSH

    4th Grade Teacher
    Farmingdale Public School 

    Kim Walsh exemplifies all the qualities that make for an amazing educator. She is passionate, dedicated, and willing to help anyone. She always has a smile on her face and will go above and beyond in any situation that she is faced with.  

    Mrs. Walsh wears many hats within the Farmingdale school community. She is not only the 4th grade teacher but also has administrative responsibilities and serves as teacher-in-charge when needed. Additionally, she has taken on the role of helping to implement an Arts Integration Initiative and oversee the academic support and enrichment programs.  

    Mrs. Walsh is an excellent educator and makes learning fun. She is passionate about teaching and has the respect of all her students and their families. 

    Mrs. Walsh just received the 2021-2022 Educator of the Year award, and now she is also a Teacher Who Rocks!

  • NANCY GENNUSA

    1st Grade Teacher
    Viola Sickles Elementary School, Fair Haven

    Nancy Gennusa is the Mary Poppins of teachers! She is patient and kind and always thinks on her feet. Even though she has taught at Sickles for 28 years, she continues to come up with innovative ways to teach concepts. She accepts each student for who they are and helps them learn and grow in a nurturing environment.  Nancy brings learning to life for her students…for example: teaching how to write opinion pieces by sampling pizza from local pizza places in town!!

    This is what one of her student’s parents said about Nancy:

    Nobody knows how to really see each kid and reach them individually like Mrs. Gennusa.  She knows special things about what each kid is interested in, and she uses that to really make them love learning.  As the parent of a child with some extra needs, I saw her find ways to reach my kid and make him LOVE being in her class.

    Nancy is incredibly devoted to her kids.  In the early days of the pandemic, despite having knee surgery, being unable to drive, and living an hour away, she had someone drive her to every student’s house to drop off treats, plants, and things to make learning look “normal” to her first graders.

    When things got stressful and hard during remote learning, she spent HOURS on the phone helping parents muddle through – to lend an ear, to provide advice, or to solve a problem.  She used her personal time and designed a special assignment for my child when he was struggling, and he was able to absolutely shine.  That’s who she is – she knows how to make ALL her kids successful and proud, and she takes the time to do it.

    Nancy Gennusa is unquestionably a Teacher Who Rocks!

  • MIKE SAVINO

    Teacher- Multiply Disabled Students
    Memorial Elementary School, Howell

    Mr. Savino has been educating students in his multiply disabled classroom for the better part of 3 decades. Not only does he work the school year but his career has also meant continuing his classroom in Howell Township’s Extended School Year program, truly making him a 12-month educator to his students.

    Mr. Savino works closely with families, often spending time early in the morning or late at night communicating. He has helped hundreds of students reach their true potential. His sense of humor, care for his students and overall love for teaching appropriate behavioral strategies makes him one of a kind.

    Mr. Savino consistently goes above and beyond. He communicates and builds individualized schedules for students, he’s been known to drop off materials and supplies to families’ houses and he will do whatever it takes to get his students to find success. For all these reasons and more, Mike Savino is absolutely a Teacher Who Rocks!

  • ANNMARIE WISLICENY

    Kindergarten Teacher
    Bay Head School 

    AnnMarie Wisliceny’s number one motivation has always been the academic, social, and emotional advancement of her students. “What’s best for the kids” is behind every professional move she makes.  AnnMarie is consistent, responsible, reliable, and trustworthy. She is often sought out by students and co-workers alike for advice, comfort, or company. She is a model and an inspiration for what a good teacher should be. 

    Over the years AnnMarie has been asked to assume a variety of positions and she has done so with grace, open-mindedness, and positivity. She works hard to make sure she is aware of the expectations of any role she takes on, and then does whatever is needed to meet and usually exceed those expectations. In addition to teaching, she has served as Teacher in Charge, Testing Coordinator, After-Care Teacher, and so much more, but these roles never take away from her number one priority: her students. 

    During her career AnnMarie has received many kind words and emails from students, parents, coworkers, and administrators, and now she receives recognition as a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • JOANNA MULHOLLAND

    6th Grade Teacher
    Berkeley Township Elementary School  

    Joanna Mulholland is always reinventing herself, constantly looking for new and interesting ways to help her class thrive. She is someone who comes to school every day intending to challenge her students to be better than they were yesterday. 

    Mrs. Mulholland cares about each of her students and will use any technique possible to help them succeed. She knows and understands all of her students and makes personal connections with each of them. Her rapport with her class allows her to understand their interests and fold them into her daily instruction. They respect and trust her, which is evident in their conversation and interactions during class. Her students are willing to try new things because of the safe and supportive environment she has created.

    An example of this is when over the summer she discovered the Lego for Education program and began integrating it into her instruction. She went on a search for as many Lego blocks as she could find. She cleaned, sorted, and bagged hundreds, if not thousands, of Legos in preparation for the school year. Within a few months, her program gained the attention of NASA & NBC, with The Today Show sending a film crew to the school and Dr. Jenny Nash from Lego Education visiting and working with the students. 

    Mrs. Mulholland is an asset to the school who is admired by her peers. She is one of the first people in the building and routinely one of the last to leave. She has sat on curriculum committees, ran afterschool STEAM Clubs, and worked tirelessly on the Connected Action Roadmap. As if this was not enough, this holiday season her class sponsored the Scholastic Great Bedtime Story Pajama Drive. Her class was able to collect over 70 sets of PJ’s, each donated along with a book to a needy child in Ocean County. 

    These are just a few of the many reasons that Joanna Mulholland is a Teacher Who Rocks.  

  • HEATHER MELANSON

    1st Grade Teacher
    Clara B. Worth Elementary School/Bayville
     

    Mrs. Melanson is one of those teachers who just has it! Her gift comes naturally and routinely on a daily basis. At the heart of her teaching is the ability to make positive and lasting connections with the students. Mrs. Melanson never settles for anything less than what is best for her students. She is an advocate, an educator, and most of all she loves her students. She creates a wonderful classroom environment that is beneficial to all learners.  

    Mrs. Melanson’s ability to take even the most reserved students and bring out their inner excitement is remarkable to watch. She is always finding fun and creative ways to teach and bring her lessons to life. She is confident in her abilities, yet is always willing to learn and try new things. Consistently one of the highest requested teachers by parents and even colleagues with children in the school, Mrs. Melanson has the natural ability to develop a love of learning and to create a positive and fully inclusive classroom environment.   

    Mrs. Melanson has been part of Project Starfish, after school clubs, tutoring, and mentoring of other staff members. She was previously named as Teacher of the Year, and now Heather Melanson is also officially a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • NICOLE SULESKI

    5th Grade Special Education Teacher
    Nellie F. Bennett Elementary/Point Pleasant

    There are not enough words to express what Mrs. Suleski does for her students.   Every minute she is in the classroom she is dedicated to making sure that her students receive the most one-on-one attention possible.  She works tirelessly to make students feel like they can accomplish any task they are given.  In addition, she will always look for ways to motivate students to want to learn more, not just to get the work done they are assigned. 

    Mrs. Suleski is always looking for new ways to help her students.  She spends countless hours going through their IEPs, classwork, and files to learn more about them so that she knows how to best reach those children.  She is in constant contact with Child Study Team members to keep them apprised of how the child is doing and to gain more support for those who may need it. 

    Mrs. Suleski is a mentor for new special education teachers in the district, she is also a member of the school’s Sunshine Committee, and now she is also a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • KAREN DETTLINGER

    Math Teacher
    H.W. Mountz School, Spring Lake

    Mrs. Dettlinger goes above and beyond for her students, often giving of her personal time to help all students succeed in accomplishing a rigorous curriculum. Mrs. Dettlinger makes it a goal to get to know each of her students personally. She learns their likes and dislikes, their favorite activities and hobbies, and she easily relates to the kids talking sports, music, movies, and the like. Many of her former students have stayed in touch with her and they often cite the work in her class as having best prepared them for continued success in high school, especially with high level or honors math classes. 

    When it comes to virtual learning, Mrs. Dettlinger was ahead of the curve. Several years ago, before COVID forced schools into remote instruction, Mrs. Dettlinger piloted a blended learning experiment with students from various districts participating in a remote class for the entirety of the school year. She has since taught high level math classes to students in Avon, Belmar, Brielle, and Sea Girt remotely – while also continuing to host her own Spring Lake students. The class has received acclaim from students and parents from each of the districts.  

    Mrs. Dettlinger also serves as the facilitator of the District’s National Junior Honor Society, she has been recognized and invited to present at a national conference on the application of STEM in the classroom, and now she is officially recognized as a Teacher Who Rocks!   

  • JOSEPH TRUISI

    7th Grade Social Studies Teacher
    Cedar Drive Middle School, Colts Neck

    Joe Truisi is the epitome of a young professional who has found their calling and made it a career!  He is kind and enthusiastic with his students and with his colleagues.  His good humor and positive attitude spill out of his classroom and brighten up the whole school!   

    Joe’s dress up days are legendary!  Whether it’s a historical period costume or spirit week, Joe is always above and beyond to the delight of his school community.  

    He also is always available for students and staff for extra help or mentoring or just listening.  He is proactive and he turnkeys essential professional development for his colleagues.  And having a tech savvy hall neighbor is always a plus! 

    Joe coaches cross country in the Fall.  He also facilitates “After the Bell”, an after school program for homework improvement.  Additionally, he has hosted the very popular music and film intramural clubs.  

    For all of these reasons and more, Joseph Truisi is definitely a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • SUSAN BRENNAN

    Special Education Teacher
    Hazlet Middle School

    Susan Brennan truly embodies the mission of Hazlet Middle School. She is caring, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and a true advocate for children. She consistently goes above and beyond for students, making their middle school experience a positive one. Mrs. Brennan’s classroom is active and engaging. You will never visit and see students who are not actively participating and being guided in a way that meets their individual learning needs.  

    In her classroom, Mrs. Brennan teaches not only academic content, but social skills, organization, time management, life skills, responsibility, teamwork, friendship and community. She creates a learning environment that is both challenging and supportive, never allowing students to give less than their best, while providing all of the resources they need to reach their maximum potential.  

    Mrs. Brennan volunteers to work with students during extended hours, and she always says “yes” when asked to assist with special school functions, such as Hurricane Palooza field day. She keeps a smile on her face and really has FUN with kids. Her colleagues describe Sue as “the epitome of a team player!” Already named the Governor’s Educator of the Year 2020-2021, Susan Brennan is also now a Teacher Who Rocks!  

  • ALISON BRANNICK

    Honors Math Teacher
    Lacey Township Middle School

    Teaching with clarity, patience and expectations, Alison Brannick’s focus is on her students, not necessarily the subject. Mrs. Brannick believes that if she can focus on each individual student and their needs, she can convey each concept she needs them to address.  

    Mrs. Brannick has developed her classroom into a multi-functionally room where her students can choose a learning direction that best suits their personal style. As an educator, you need to be diverse in your teaching techniques and this has been a technique that Mrs. Brannick has embraced and developed for years. 

    Mrs. Brannick not only makes time for her group of students, but she sits in on classes where students need some encouragement, who need to hear that they are doing great. She helps students feel empowered in math and STEM science and pushes them to participate in math functions like Math League, and her special day – PI day! Her philosophy is time – it just takes time for the wheels to CLICK.  

    Beyond her classroom duties, Mrs. Brannick also serves as the Drama director, pushing the “other side” of a student’s creative ability to shine through. As Math League advisor she has won many accolades for LTMS, and now Alson Brannick finds herself a winner as a Teacher Who Rocks!