Congratulations to the Following Teachers!
NJEA Community Spotlight Winner
Special Education Math Teacher
Matawan Regional High School
Sheryl Kish has been a leading teacher in the district for many years. She is caring, thoughtful, and hard working.
If you have ever worked with teens you know how hard it is to gain a solid relationship with them. Sheryl has a firm but respectful way with the kids. She never raises her voice, she earns their respect and they respond to her. Her sense of humor and flexibility make for a unique and awesome place for the kids to learn.
Sheryl is dedicated to helping the community as well. From running fundraisers for families in need, to finding gowns for girls who can’t afford a prom dress, Sheryl is always willing to lend a helping hand. For these reasons and so many more, Sheryl Kish is definitely a Teacher Who Rocks!
Paraprofessional and Translator
Ridgeway Elementary School/Manchester
Mrs. Sias (as everyone calls her) is an incredible paraprofessional who goes above and beyond for her English Language Learners. Her warm and nurturing personality are a huge comfort for those new students whose families speak Spanish.
As a paraprofessional, she works closely with students to support instruction, but behind the scenes so does so much more. Mrs. Sias spends countless hours on the phone offering assistance to families. She also meets with families in person to help as needed. Whether it be communicating to students and parents about attendance, community resources, or school activities, Mrs. Sias is highly regarded by everyone in the learning community.
The staff relies on her to translate to families, and many times she offers her expertise to families in other schools in our district. She is confidential, intelligent, and truly has a heart for children. Mrs. Sias continues to go above and beyond to make sure that families have the resources they need to succeed. It’s unanimous at Ridgeway Elementary School that Mrs. Sias is an ESP Who Rocks!!
H & M Potter School
Nominated by: Andrea Cimino, Principal
Jaquanna Jacobs is an amazing paraprofessional, working with students in preschool through fourth grade. She is the type of educator who can jump into any situation at a moment’s notice and be successful. In any given week she could be working with a student one-on-one, assisting in a virtual classroom, or covering for a teacher- and she does it all with a smile on her face!
Mrs. Jacobs is able to adapt quickly to new situations, and to bring out the best in her students. Her flexibility to switch between programs has helped keep consistency for students during this hectic year. She shows incredible patience and compassion for all, which makes her a welcome presence in any classroom. Now more than ever, students and staff are lucky to have Mrs. Jacobs as a part of the H & M Potter School family, and she is most deserving of the title Teacher Who Rocks!
8th Grade Math Teacher
Southern Regional Middle School
Nominated by: Katie Cherney, Teacher
During the COVID-19 pandemic Diane Liebmann has gone above and beyond for her students. Teaching three different levels of math, her creativity and design for her lessons are amazing as she challenges her students with every lesson she prepares. Diane creates most, if not all, of her lessons using Google Slides and online capabilities that work for both in-class and at-home students. She is dedicated in her efforts to make math fun on the computer due to the lack of “hands-on” activities that are not being done in the classroom.
Diane is a role model for all of her colleagues as she also has 3 kids at home and is constantly balancing mom and work life. She is a TRUE definition of a working parent. Everyone at Southern Regional is proud to call Diane a colleague, teammate, friend, and a Teacher Who Rocks!
Jackson Memorial High School
Nominated by: Arlene Wacha, Educator
Michelle McCann teaches English at Jackson Memorial High School in Jackson, NJ. She has taught students with many different challenges over the years. Humbly, she raises their self-esteem and many hundreds of high school graduates have benefitted from her lessons throughout the students’ careers.
When a student reaches adulthood and returns with thanks, she beams with delight. Michelle thinks she has found a treasure when the student’s “light bulb turns on” and the students sees the light. Every personal hurdle has been a benchmark for 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 and laughter make all lives brighter.
After all is said and done, a teacher’s work is never finished – only just begun. Michelle herself went to Jackson schools, now teaching in the high school from which she graduated. She has always been there for her students and always shares a smile with her colleagues. Michelle’s picture hangs on the wall at Jackson Memorial as a “teacher of the year,” and now she’s also a Teacher Who Rocks!
Multiple Disabilities Teacher
Lakewood High School
Nominated by: Lisa Andreola
Kathleen has been in the Lakewood school district for over 20 years. As a Multiple Disabilities teacher she is dedicated and truly cares about the kids. Kathleen works with the higher-level students, getting them involved with the general population of the school by creating items to sell in the school’s Club Corner during lunches.
Kathleen spends a lot of her own money to provide supplies. She bought a Circut machine which she taught the students how to use to create personalized shirts and shirts that support autism. She has helped the students find hobbies such as paint by number and latch hook. This is just one way Kathleen fosters her students.
Kathleen focuses strongly on the aspects of the special needs program to aid her students in developing the skills they will need to navigate the real world. All of her colleagues agree that Kathleen is an amazing person as well as a Teacher Who Rocks!
Memorial Elementary School
Nominated by Principal Ray
Lori Ann Grimes is the school nurse at Memorial High School in Freehold. 36 years as a school nurse couldn’t prepare Nurse Grimes for the year she has had. Since last March, she has been working to educate, help and take care of the 300 students and 65 staff members at Memorial Elementary School. Over the past year, she has worked to learn all about COVID protocols and helping to teach families and students about proper hygiene, keeping safe and being educated about COVID-19. Nurse Grimes began her career in Howell and after working for Spring Lake for many years, she returned to Memorial Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year. She quickly learned how to handle many of the unique needs of the school’s special education population, working closely with paraprofessionals, teachers, administration and families to help students during times of medical need. She handles all of the many responsibilities with a calm and cool demeanor and to see her in action when there is an actual emergency is amazing. She is a true gift to the students at Memorial Elementary School, as well as the and community at large and she can now add “Member of the class of 2021 of Teachers Who Rock” to her resume.
Mahala F. Atchison Elementary School
Nominated by Cindy Loniewski, Parent
Kayla Main is a first grade teacher at Mahala F. Atchison Elementary in Tinton Falls. Miss Main has truly gone above and beyond even before the pandemic, but even more so now. She is online all day and still makes every effort to give extra support to her students after hours. Not only is she there for her students, but she also gives her time to parents who have questions or concerns; whether it’s a zoom call after school or an early morning email, Miss Main is available. Her day isn’t over when the kids log off; she is at school hours later preparing for the next day, week or even month. Miss Main makes sure her students don’t miss out on special days like Halloween, Valentine’s Day or the 100th day of school. She works tirelessly to do anything and everything to make sure her students have a fun virtual celebration by supplying them all with books, games and crafts. Even though her students are not in school, Miss Main still decorates her classroom for the students to see and displays their projects in the school hallway. Miss Main will do what she can to put a smile on everyone’s face because she wants her students to be happy. She will remind her students to be positive and that “Today is a great day!” Virtual learning and teaching is not easy, but Kayla Main has shown all of us that a positive attitude and a smile goes a long way…and she’s most definitely a Teacher Who Rocks.
Computer Science Teacher
Lacey Township Middle School
Nominated by fellow teacher Kathleen Cafiero
Ms. Brown is not only the Computer teacher for 7th & 8th grade students, but she is also the IT person in the building. She’s the one who fixes every computer issue for students & staff, she runs workshops to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest websites and tools, and Ms. Brown has kept every student up & running with chromebooks throughout the virtual learning of the last year.
Ms. Brown never says “no” to any staff member, and the word impossible is absent from her vocabulary. On top of keeping the staff technologically savvy, she also schedules, designs, and implements all Standardized Testing so it is all online and easy to access by class and teacher.
In addition to teaching computer programming, Ms. Brown runs several workshops to help staff stay current and keep their skills up to speed.
Ms. Brown loves what she does, and that love for education makes her so inspiring. Her positivity shines through each moment she is with you. Not only was she the Lacey District Staff member for the month of November 2020, Kim Brown is also deserving of the title “Teacher Who Rocks!”
Health & Physical Education Teacher
Millstone Middle School
Nominated by fellow teacher Kelly Rosetto
Stuart Faunce brings his love for being physically active to his students with the joy of being a kid. Stuart has brought great energy as a new edition to the school, keeping kids excited & moving daily. He greets all his students with a “how you doing today?” at his gym door. He brings fun to his classes and provides a daily escape for students so they can forget about COVID and remember what it’s like to be normal again, even though they can’t play traditional sports or participate in traditional gym.
Stuart has introduced his students to frisbee golf and other fun activities like bocce, ladder golf, spike ball, and corn hole. He’s dedicated specific weeks to yoga skills and flows, solo jump rope activities, even hula-hooping – all activities that can be done within a personal space.
Stuart helps his colleagues by adding and teaching new technology possibilities to HPE staff, as well as introducing new resources to use for virtual and in person health lessons. Currently Stuart is recreating the fire safety/fire prevention health unit since he is also a volunteer fireman in Millstone.
The best part is that Stuart has come full circle. He is a former Millstone student, and now he is a Millstone colleague and a Teacher Who Rocks!
3rd Grade Teacher
Cecil S. Collins School in Barnegat
Nominated by Maryellen Viglone
Mrs. LaDuca sets high expectations for all of her students. Being a Third Grade Inclusion Teacher, she has a very diversified group of students. Paige really gets to know her students through testing, conversations, and collaborations. She targets skills that her students need on an individual basis allowing them to be challenged and successful. She gives them tools and encouragement that help them in the areas that they struggle with. This in turn empowers them to succeed and feel self-worth, and they’tr excited to go to class and learn with her.
Paige works well with differentiating her lessons for each student based on their IEP goals, using creative strategies to incorporate their needsinto mini-lessons that are perfect for her students. When COVID-19 made it impossible to teach in person, she worked with her students in small groups and one-on-one to continue their academic education.
Mrs. LaDuca has served on different committees that have helped to benefit the school and the district, also contributing to after school programs that assist students in additional learning. She will even share her lunch or prep time to meet with a student mentee. Paige LaDuca is a highly effective teacher who is always willing to help other teachers as well as students, and she is most deserving to be recognized as a Teacher Who Rocks!
Special Education Science Teacher
Brick memorial High School
Nominated by Donna Decker (No relation)
Brian Decker is smart, funny, dedicated and most of all an incredible teacher. He has a way to connect to students who are at risk or struggling. His special education background is an asset because he wants to make sure every student can participate on their own level and feel like they are accomplishing their goals.
Brian’s laid back nature makes students feel very comfortable in his classes, and this leads to student success. Brian’s talents go way beyond the classroom. He successfully coaches track and soccer, even being named Coach of the Year (2012) by the Asbury Park Press for Track and Field. Brian also coaches Cross Country at Ocean County College. He truly believes in pushing his student-athletes so that they can accomplish their individual goals, but also improve as an overall team.
Brian has a great rapport with all of his students and staff, After leaving his class, students often find their way back to chat about classes and anything going on in their lives. His time, energy, sense of humor, and experience as an educator are invaluable, making Brian Decker a Teacher Who Rocks!
Nominated by Principal Steven Reider & Assistant Principal Melissa Gallagher
During an ordinary year a school nurse is an extremely important part of the school community, however this past year has been anything but an ordinary, and nurse Melissa Reece has gone above and beyond to ensure the health and safety of everyone at Bayville School.
Melissa has spent countless hours contacting families, providing research and guidance, contact tracing, supporting staff members, fielding phone calls, all while dealing with the daily bandages, bumps and bruises.
Melissa’s daily smile, calm demeanor and expertise in her field are the reasons the Bayville School community remains healthy and safe. She has been a constant conduit to the Health Department, relaying information to parents, administrators and staff. She has outlined procedures and protocols in a way that is understandable and always with safety as the priority. All school stakeholders have relied on her expertise and, without fail, she has answered the call every time.
Melissa has maintained her countless responsibilities of an ordinary school year, while putting in all the extra work necessary to lead Bayville School through these challenging times. The Bayville School staff, students, and parents are incredibly grateful to have Mrs. Reece as a Teacher Who Rocks!
Red Bank Regional High School
Nominated by supervisor Lisa Boyle
Since coming to the Red Bank Regional, Keith Savarese has brought a refreshing and bright spirit to the World Language Department. He has a natural ability to bring people together that normally wouldn’t talk to each other. Keith is always the first person to welcome new teachers to the school, the first teacher to volunteer to help anyone with ANYTHING, always giving of his time and resources. Keith will literally stop what he is doing to help a colleague in technological distress and makes the most technologically challenged person feel at ease with this new virtual teaching platform.
When it is time to schedule classes, students fill his class first because he is patient, kind, and understanding that foreign languages are intimidating for kids! Keith stays after school to assist students with homework not only in Spanish, but also in Italian, Math, Science, English and Social Studies. He has volunteered to tutor Spanish-speaking students in all subject areas to better their English language learning skills. He has even started a “Spanish lunch” club that meets once a week where only Spanish is spoken. At this lunch both native and non-native Spanish speakers come together and speak Spanish in a casual and fun environment. This is a great way for everyone to meet and practice their language skills.
Everyone at RBR agrees that Keith Savarese is just amazing. He’s the best teacher, colleague, and friend that a person could ask for, and he’s also a Teacher Who Rocks!
3rd Grade Teacher
St. Mary Academy/Manahawkin
Nominated by fellow teachers
Mrs. Rienzi is an extraordinary individual with very high standards for herself and her students. She drives her students to greatness while managing the complexities of teaching different styles for different children. Mrs. Rienzi is always looking for ways to help her students excel. She arranges for popular authors to virtually meet with her students and have them ask questions of the author. She oversees a summer reading Club with her students, even after they move on to the next grade.
In addition, she’s a road warrior as she commutes each and every day from Howell to Manahawkin, regardless of weather conditions. If there is inclement weather in the forecast for the following day, Kathrynann has been known to stay at a local hotel so as to not miss her class that day, knowing her students would be looking for her.
As someone who always goes above and beyond for her students, and for her tireless dedication, Kathrynann Rienzi is without question a Teacher Who Rocks!
First Grade Teacher
Waretown Elementary School
Nominated by parent and PTO president Alicia Goldner
Mrs. Weinberg is teaching her Waretown Elementary School first graders fully virtually.
Over the summer she came up with a schedule and a plan for all her students, incorporating clever ideas on how to use Google Classroom and Zoom. Her schedule of learning activities for the kids throughout the day is exactly what she would be doing in the classroom.
Each day the children have a routine, they know their schedule and they know what is expected of them because Mrs. Weinberg has gone over the rules and expectations just as she would have in the classroom. She allows them time for independent activities while still being supervised. There is always something going on to keep the kids interacting with their teacher and classmates.
Mrs. Weinberg goes out of her way to ensure that every student has what they need. If they are in need of supplies, she ensures to drop them off or have a pick up at the school so that no child goes without. She also works closely with the Room Parents to still allow her virtual students to participate in class parties with special snacks, crafts and activities. Each student truly feels that they are connected not only with their teacher but with the other students in the class.
Virtual learning is not easy, but there is absolutely no learning loss for these 1st graders with Mrs. Weinberg as a teacher. She is truly a Teacher Who Rocks
Academy Charter High School/Lake Como
Nominated by Director of Curriculum Klarissa Martin
Jennifer Johnston always goes above and beyond for her students and the school. If change is thrown her way, she accepts the challenge and embraces it.
When COVID hit, a normally hands-on Arts and Humanities program had to quickly switch to an online format. Ms. Johnston was able to adjust her teaching methods quickly and appropriately, making it possible for students to succeed. She found new and innovative ways to get students to interact from afar.
With the diverse makeup of her classes, Jenn finds a way to relate art to both the past and present to engage all students. Students truly enjoy the physical experiences as well as the connection to reality. She has even been able to captivate students in writing activities critiquing famous art as well as their own.
Besides her passion for teaching art, Ms. Johnston is involved in many school activities. She runs the National Honor Society and oversees the class advisors. She plays a big part in many events in school building including fundraisers and senior prom.
Her enthusiasm, dedication, professionalism, and work ethic make her an amazing educator and colleague, and a Teacher Who Rocks!
5th Grade Teacher
Berkeley Township Elementary School
Nominated by Principal Daniel Prima
Mrs. Ofsanko has been a fifth grade teacher for the past eighteen years. She has worked with both general and special education students during that time and continues to be someone who strives for improvement each and every day. She is held in high regard by students, staff and families and always goes the extra mile. Mrs. Ofsanko is a hard worker who takes a great deal of pride in her teaching and school community.
Mrs. Ofsanko believes in all of her students and is 100% committed to being the best teacher possible for each and every one of them. To that end, she is always researching strategies to improve and to make herself a topnotch educator. Just being good enough is not an option for Mrs. Ofsanko. She will do whatever it takes to get her students engaged and motivated to learn.
Mrs. Ofsanko is responsible for “The Good Morning Project,” in which herstudents make their peers feel welcome each and every day with a big “Good Morning” as they enter the building. This later expanded to creating “pay it forward” inspirational cards to promote kindness throughout the day as well.
Mrs. Ofsanko is a team player who is an integral part of the Berkeley Township School community. Her communication skills are exemplary, sharing a multitude of ideas for the betterment of the school. She is an active participant in the School Improvement Panel and Safety Team Committees, she has assisted the PTA with many student events. She was a leader in the implementation of a new science curriculum and has also written and received small grants to help improve her classroom instruction. Mrs. Ofsanko is someone who is held in high regard by the administration and student body alike, making her a Teacher Who Rocks!
Red Bank Primary School
Nominated by fellow teacher Rachel DeBari
Meredith Faistl is one is one of those teachers that makes school feel magical to little kids. She’s like a real life Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus. Meredith has an outfit for every holiday, calls her students her “Faistl Family,” and gives her students experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives. If you meet a second grader at the grocery store who is asking where to find the baguettes, you know they learned about France with Miss Faistl!
COVID-19 has truly changed our world, and despite the challenges of the district having to switch back and forth between hybrid and full virtual learning, Meredith’s dedication has never been more evident. She has been known to sign in to Google Meet hours after the work day is done to help students with their homework. When asked why, Meredith says it’s because she knows that a student who has trouble with their homework will have a rough night, which will lead to a stressful morning, and a tough next day.
Meredith Faistl genuinely cares about her students and the field of education. She’s one of those teachers that students will always remember because she truly teaches from her heart, making her a Teacher Who Rocks!
School Library Media Specialist
Shrewsbury Borough School
Nominated by fellow teacher Brittany King
Anyone who enters Ms. Bremekamp’s class is instantly transported into a world of inquiry and fun! As the SBS Library Media Specialist, she works tirelessly to bring resources and experiences to all students, always looking for new and innovative ways to explore topics presented to her learners.
Ms. Bremekamp is also a NatGeo Educator Ambassador and NASA Social Alumna, seamlessly incorporating her experiences into her class to keep content relevant and engaging. She’s not afraid to tackle modern-day topics such as anti-racism, anti-bullying, climate control and nature preservation, as well as celebrating famous Black Americans and Women.
Ms. Bremekamp is also a champion at cultivating a culture of inquiry, exploration, and pushing boundaries, as she advocated and created the school’s very own Innovation Lab, which is used for students to create and explore concepts they may have only dreamed of.
Within the walls of the Library Media Center Ms. Bremekamp also facilitates a variety of clubs that are student centered, and inquiry-based such as: “Coding, Programming, and Gaming, Oh My!”, “Production & Storytelling (through photography, video, animation, and podcasting)”, and “Young Innovators”.
Ms. Bremekamp is a teacher who constantly looks to push boundaries, engage learners, and create an environment where students are encouraged to explore a world of possibility. Ms. Bremekamp continues to be a wealth of knowledge, a champion of student learning and engagement, and a Teacher Who Rocks.
Clara B Worth Elementary/Bayville
Nominated by Principal Cara Burton and Assistant Principal Kevin Waldron
Even in the most challenging of times, the best and brightest always find ways to shine. Mrs. Helling continues to be a tremendous asset to our CBW family, now more than ever. She goes above and beyond everyday (and night) to ensure that students and staff are safe and healthy during this nation-wide pandemic. COVID-19 has put an extreme amount of stress and responsibility on school nurses and Mrs. Helling has risen to the occasion with grace, confidence, and enthusiasm.
Her work-load and daily responsibilities have been multiplied exponentially, yet she continues to be kind, patient, and understanding. Her record keeping and communication skills are second to none, as she regularly prepares newsletters and information for students, staff, and families.
She continues to be available and resourceful to our students, staff, and community. Mrs. Helling has volunteered her time on the Ocean County Health Department’s Educational Advisory Committee. She is a certified COVID-19 contact tracer through Johns Hopkins University, another course she voluntarily took in the best interest of the school community.
In addition Mrs. Helling is a member of the NJ State School Nurses Association and the National Association for School Nurses. Never shying away from a challenge even in the most difficult of times, Mrs. Helling’s dedication, professionalism, generosity, and expertise are crucial to the success and well-being of the entire school community, most certainly making her a “Nurse Who Rocks!”
7th Grade English Teacher
Lacey Township Middle School
Nominated by: Linda Kirk, Teacher (TWR Class of 2011)
When it comes to Teachers Who Rock, Ray Kramer certainly rises to the occasion, because, as an avid rock climber, he literally ROCKS! In his 7th grade Language Arts classroom, Ray rocks the curriculum for his students by delivering interesting and innovative instruction that includes custom made videos and songs to engage each student. Ray reaches his students through his honesty, “punny” sense of humor, strong sense of fairness, and the belief that everyone can succeed.
As a teacher leader, Ray has helped to develop and refine the curriculum that his colleagues use in their own classrooms, and he willingly shares materials that he has created. Ray is admired by his colleagues for his ability to work with everyone and share ideas, while inspiring others and encouraging some educational risk-taking.
In his after school hours, Ray works with the Drama Club to help bring their productions to life. Whether he is managing the stage crew, rehearsing with the cast, or doing any one of a hundred other jobs, he does it all with an attitude of gratitude.
Ray’s positive energy and dedication to his craft are inspiring to his students and to the staff who are lucky enough to call him a colleague and friend. It is for these reasons, along with many others, that Ray Kramer is a Teacher Who Rocks!
Basic Skills Teacher
Ocean Acres Elementary School
Nominated by: Susan D’Allesandro, Principal
Mrs. Osborne has been rocking it as a teacher for the past 36 years! In her classrooms Mrs. Osborne makes lessons come alive for her students, actively engaging them as they utilize a variety of skills to not only complete the tasks at hand, but to truly understand the content.
Mrs. Osborne regularly consults with teachers, parents, and staff to enhance our educational program’s effectiveness in helping her students. Her ability to be friendly, warm, and approachable to students, parents and faculty members assists in opening the door to trust and letting go of any burdens that need to be worked out so learning can take place.
These are trying times for the entire educational community, but Mrs. Osborne did not hesitate to jump into a hybrid model of learning to support her students both virtually and in person. She has proven to be a dedicated and competent professional adored by students and staff. Without question, Mrs. Osborne deserves recognition as a Teacher Who Rocks!