Congratulations to the Following Teachers!
H&M Potter School
Nominated by Principal Andrea Cimino
Donna Palumbo is a Preschool Teacher at H&M Potter School in Bayville. Nominated by Principal Andrea Cimino, Donna has been in education for over 40 years. She’s been at the Potter School since 2018 and ensures that her young students’ first school experience is a positive one.
Her classroom is bright, welcoming and the perfect place for students to learn through play & imagination. Donna designs hands-on lessons that help the children grow and explore their environment. The two years that students spend in preschool are critical to their development and Donna makes sure that they get the most out of that time.
She’s also an important part of the school community as an active PTA member and a trusted colleague in the preschool department. Donna Palumbo goes above and beyond daily in providing a strong foundation for her students, and now is a Teacher Who Rocks.
Grunin Performing Arts Academy
Nominated by Vice Principal Kyle Seiverd
Kelly Bourke is a Dance Teacher at the Grunin Performing Arts Academy in Toms River. Nominated by Vice Principal Kyle Seiverd, Kelly has been in education for 16 years. The Grunin Performing Arts Academy is not your typical high school.
Students each have a major that focuses on a performing art and Kelly is one of the school’s dance teachers. She takes students from diverse backgrounds and teaches them to move fluidly and in sync. Kelly builds bridges between all her students, as dance relies on groups moving together as a whole. She emphasizes the importance of self-respect and seeing each other as a family. If a student is having a rough day, Kelly recognizes that and goes out of her way to speak to them with a calm, approachable & empathetic attitude.
Outside the classroom, Kelly runs the Dance Club, provides students with the basics of Yoga to help their breathing & mindset as well as teaches Yoga to staff during professional development. She’s also involved in “Angels Play”; an organization started by her father, Bill Lavin. His idea was to build 26 playgrounds in communities destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, each playground honoring the memory of teachers or students lost in Newtown, CT. They continue to build playgrounds to this day. Kelly makes the school, staff & district better because of her passion and the gifts she brings to the Grunin Performing Arts Academy, and for that, she’s now a Teacher Who Rocks.
Red Bank Middle School
Nominated by Athletic Director Isaac Nathanson
Bre Hartman is a 6th-grade Math Teacher at Red Bank Middle School. Nominated by Athletic Director Isaac Nathanson, Bre has been in education for 6 years. In addition to her work in the classroom, Bre has volunteered at Red Bank EMS, aiding those in need in the community.
She’s also pursuing her dream of becoming a volunteer firefighter, further highlighting her commitment to public safety and community well-being. She’s also a coach of two recreational softball teams where she serves as a role model for young athletes – nurturing their skills, promoting teamwork, and instilling valuable life lessons.
She also coaches the school’s softball team, adding to her already impressive coaching portfolio. Moreover, Bre’s efforts extend beyond competitive sports. She leads a before-school baseball & softball clinic that caters to 4th-8th grade students, and takes charge of the home club after school which provides a safe & enriching environment where students can get extra academic support.
Finally, you can always find Bre cheering on the student body at every school athletic event serving as a morale booster & inspiring students to give their best on and off the field. Bre Hartman is definitely a Teacher Who Rocks!
Forked River Elementary School
Nominated by Brenda Camaligan
Stephanie Faille is a Music Teacher at Forked River Elementary School. Nominated by fellow teacher Brenda Camaligan, Stephanie has been in education for 28 years. Stephanie is a past finalist for the Grammy Music Education award and provides the students of Forked River Elementary with a top-notch music education experience.
She understands how music can positively impact the academic, emotional & social growth of a child by improving their memory as well as listening and motor skills. Last year, Stephanie used the power of music to help students learn academic content such as math & science by incorporating songs about those topics into the chorus concert. She also had her band students working together on rhythms on plastic buckets, much like the Broadway show “Stomp.”
Equity & inclusion are also important to Stephanie, so this year she taught her 90 chorus students how to sing holiday songs in multiple languages including “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” in American Sign Language. Stephanie believes that all kids should have the opportunity to learn and experience the joy of music. She is currently working on her Doctorate in Education, Policy, Leadership & Management.
In addition to her work as a music teacher, Stephanie finds time to serve on the school district’s professional development committee and is a district music curriculum writer. The students of Forked River Elementary are fortunate to have such a talented & dedicated teacher and we’re proud to welcome Stephanie to our class of Teachers Who Rock.
Mill Pond School
Nominated by District Supervisor Mallory Krakovski
Stephanie Danziger is a preschool instructional coach at Mill Pond School in Lanoka Harbor. Nominated by District Supervisor Mallory Krakovski, Stephanie has been in education for 15 years and has dedicated her whole self to every task she takes on.
She lives and breathes preschool and there’s no one you’ll find that has as much passion for the littlest learners. Stephanie is THE model teacher who can make students’ first exposure to school both positive and fun. She sings songs with the students, dances like no one is watching, and will do anything to get them to smile.
Stephanie made the transition to Preschool Instructional Coach, even though that was a difficult decision for her to leave the classroom. However, she’s been able to share her skill set with all of the preschool teachers. As she built the confidence of her students, she’s been able to do the same with her colleagues, providing them with feedback to let them develop into strong teachers themselves.
Stephanie is involved with many parent & community events like art shows & game nights. She’s also worked with Unified Champions and the Special Olympics to host events in the district. For her work in and out of the classroom, Stephanie Danziger is a Teacher Who Rocks!
Silver Bay Elementary School
Nominated by Allison McConnell Tracy
Jacqueline Clayton is a first-grade teacher at Silver Bay Elementary School in Toms River. Nominated by one of her students’ parents, Allison McConnell Tracy, Jacqueline has been in education for over 20 years.
Allison asks “How do you know your child loves school and their teacher is awesome?” The answer is that they wake up every day ready to go to school and during the weekend ask “Is it Monday yet?” Allison says Jacqueline is the shining example of why her son loves her class. Their family’s first interaction with Jacqueline was a letter requesting to describe their child “in a million words or less, opening the door for parent-teacher communication.
She recognizes her students making great choices and in turn, celebrates their successes. As students earn points throughout the day using Class Dojo, they have the option to be the teacher’s assistant for the day, have a class dance party, or other choices that motivate the class of 25 students magnificently. Jacqueline also keeps in close contact with students’ families with information about special events, learning experiences, and more. Her kindness, dedication & innovation have made the year incredible for her students.
At Winter Break, parents were invited into Jacqueline’s classroom for a family gingerbread house-making activity which allowed parents to see their children in the classroom with their peers and teacher, which they were all thankful for. For all of her hard work, Jacqueline Clayton is a worthy member of the Class of 2024 of Teachers Who Rock!
Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School
Nominated by Vanessa Gomen
Alicia Marino is a special education teacher at Hugh J. Boyd, Jr. Elementary School in Seaside Heights. Nominated by fellow teacher & member of last year’s class of Teachers Who Rock, Vanessa Gomen, Alicia has been in education for 27 years. Alicia is now teaching at the school she attended herself in the 1970s & 1980s since being hired in 2000, so most of her life has been spent at Boyd Elementary School.
Alicia takes the time to get to know her students both academically & socially. The ability to relate to her students on a personal level allows them to feel truly comfortable and confident. Students leave Alicia’s class with a sense of accomplishment as she monitors each student’s success and allows children to see their progress & reach their full potential. For these and so many more reasons, Alicia Marino is now, officially, a Teacher Who Rocks.
Brick Memorial High School
Nominated by Darren St. Jean
Jacqueline Castellano is a Biology Teacher at Brick Memorial High School. Nominated by fellow teacher Darren St. Jean, Jacqueline has been in education for over 20 years. In addition to her teaching duties, she is involved with the AP Biology Program, the District S.T.E.M. Academy, a National Honor Society Mentor, and teacher liaison for the School Parent Teacher Organization. Jacqueline is a teacher who teaches both in and out of the classroom.
She makes sure that her students achieve the best possible outcomes every day, taking difficult subject matter from AP Biology and Sophomore Biology Honors classes and making it easier for students to absorb that knowledge. Jacqueline’s lessons inspire and prepare her students for future endeavors with a nurturing character to ensure she gets the best from her students. Most of her colleagues would say that Jacqueline “inspires the uninspired” and this is why she’s now a member of the 2024 Class of Teachers Who Rock.
Manchester Township Elementary School
Nominated by Tierny Henderson
Paul Harrigan is a Basic Skill Teacher at Manchester Township Elementary School. Nominated by fellow teacher Tierney Henderson, Paul has been in education for over 25 years. Paul is a past Teacher of the Year at Manchester Elementary and when he was nominated again this year, he respectfully declined as he felt other teachers were deserving of the award.
Paul & his wife, who is also an educator, typically donate money every year to different organizations during the holidays. In the classroom, Paul goes above & beyond to create a positive, engaging learning experience. His passion for teaching is evident in the innovative & inspiring lessons he delivers, captivating the minds of students and fostering their love for learning. Paul recognizes the unique strengths & weaknesses of each student and tailors his approach to accommodate diverse learning styles.
Outside the classroom, Paul is involved in school initiatives, extracurricular activities, and professional development opportunities. He takes the time to explain things to his colleagues with the same patience as he would a student. He’s also working on a grant to help fund after-school clubs. This year, he was tasked with working amongst 4 different classrooms, all using different programs as they’re spread over 3 different grade levels, but his bank of knowledge allows him to accommodate each student. Paul Harrigan – welcome to the 2024 Class of Teachers Who Rock!
Clara B. Worth Elementary School
Nominated by Principal Cara Burton
Marc Troccola is a Language Learning Disability teacher at Clara B. Worth Elementary School in Bayville. Nominated by Principal Cara Burton, Marc has been in education for 18 years. Principal Burton tells us that Mr. Troccola is a dynamic, committed educator who continues to thrive in the special education classroom and has done so since 2006.
He is consistently complimented by his colleagues, students, and their families. Currently, Marc teaches 3rd & 4th grade LLD and prior to that, he worked in the school’s Autism program. Affectionately known as “Mr. Marc”, his dedication and compassion have benefited countless students at Clara B. Worth as well as their families. He has a unique way of connecting with his students to bring out the best in each of them. Outside the classroom, Marc is a loving & dedicated father & husband and the values he instills in his children have carried over into his teaching.
He’s a shining example of the hard work needed to positively impact the lives of students and any student would consider themselves lucky to walk through his classroom door. For these and many other reasons, we’re proud to say that Marc Troccola is a Teacher Who Rocks!
Southern Regional Middle School in Manahawkin
Nominated by Marjorie Browning
Ali Brown is an English teacher at Southern Regional Middle School. Nominated by fellow teacher Marjorie Browning, Ali has been in the education field for 30 years.
During Mrs. Brown’s time in the district, she’s left a loving handprint on her students, colleagues & community. She runs the student store which includes a student-staffed concession booth in the afternoons and provides practice in money-handling, following a job schedule, and social interaction with peers. Mrs. Brown also created the Southern Regional Middle School’s “Welcome Wagon” where every year, an incoming student from each of Southern’s sending districts is drawn and visited by school staff, clubs, and the school mascot who brings a pizza and school gear. This gives incoming students a chance to meet the staff and have a friendly face to look for on the first day of school.
Mrs. Brown has also developed creative assessments like the “Literary Food Truck Festival” where students create food trucks based on novels they read during the school year where choices on the truck need to relate to the themes of the novels they read. Afterwards, a real food truck is brought in and students are treated to lunch. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Brown helps to deliver Thanksgiving baskets to families, chaperones trips to Kohls with “Southern Outfitters” to provide children in need with school clothes, and later in the year, she puts together holiday gift bags for those same children each Christmas. Mrs. Brown is the kind of teacher every student dreams of having and we’re proud to welcome her to 100.1 WJRZ’s “Teachers Who Rock” Class of 2024!
Frog Pond Elementary School
Nominated by Lori Mahan
Susan Pirchio is a 4th-grade teacher at Frog Pond Elementary School in Little Egg Harbor. Nominated by 3rd-grade teacher Lori Mahan, Susan is an educator of 25 years and a past “Teacher of the Year” at Frog Pond.
Lori tells us that during the 8 years she’s worked with Susan, her mind is continuously blown by her commitment and passion for education. She never grows complacent and this was proven by Susan taking on the challenge of helping the school find a new math curriculum while putting in hours of her own time to learn the strategies.
Not only has this allowed her to teach her students more effectively, but it assists other teachers in learning the curriculum as well. Susan is a leader and one of the first people the staff looks to for guidance.
Whether mentoring a new teacher, tutoring after school, or simply helping other teachers design their lessons, she’s right there. She never gives up on struggling students, but rather does one-on-one work to find new ways to teach the same skill until it connects with the student. Susan’s patience, kindness, and passion for the subject are just a few of the reasons she’s now a “Teacher Who Rocks.”
Brick Township High School
Nominated by Carol Shaw
Gayle Gruber is a fine arts teacher at Brick Township High School and has been in education for 21 years. Nominated by fellow teacher Carol Shaw, Gayle has won multiple awards throughout her career. She’s a two-time Middle Division Art Educators of New Jersey Teacher of the Year winner, the Moss Foundation Children’s Education National Art Teacher, and the VSA of New Jersey Education in Arts Awards & Creativity Award from the Art Educators of New Jersey.
Gayle can bring out the “inner artist” with her students whether they’re gifted & talented or special needs learners. After spending 16 years at the middle school, Gayle was transferred to Brick Township High School where she quickly established an amazing classroom environment where students feel safe to create. She also serves as a student mentor and in addition to art, she’s currently obtaining a Ph.D in Holocaust & Genocide Studies from Gratz College. Even with all the in-school work, she wrote a published children’s book all while battling breast cancer. We wish Gail the best in her fight for good health and welcome her to the 2024 Class of “Teachers Who Rock!”
Berkeley Township Elementary School
Nominated by Principal Daniel Prima
Victoria Guy is a 6th-grade classroom teacher at Berkeley Township Elementary School. Nominated by principal Daniel Prima, Victoria has been in education for 14 years and was named Teacher of the Year at the school in 2021.
During her time at Berkeley Elementary, she began in Basic Skills and transitioned into a 6th-grade general education teacher. One of the most notable traits Victoria has is the relationships she builds with her students and their families. The students truly appreciate her caring personality and the parents know that she has their child’s best interest at the top of the list.
When students enter 6th grade, she is highly requested which is a direct result of her work and care for the students. She also takes every opportunity to volunteer at school events including “Battle of the Books”, “Uno Night”, “Fun Fest”, “Holiday & Ornament Building” & lots more. She has created the annual school’s wax museum, and recycling program and has joined the autism program. Victoria’s colleagues hold her in high regard, and she goes the extra mile for her team. Now, celebrate her in that same light as a Teacher Who Rocks.