BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - "A teacher plants the seeds of knowledge, sprinkles them with a very special kind of love, and patiently nurtures their growth to produce tomorrow's dreams," said Superintendent Judy Rattner who opened the Teacher of the Year Reception to honor the 2014 Teachers of the Year.
The awards ceremony for the district's Teachers of the Year was held at Gov. Livingston Auditorium last week and highlighted the work of the honorees who are exemplary teachers and mentors. The teachers were all nominated by letters from families and students.
The six educators that were honored are Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center First Grade teacher Carol Sangiovanni; Thomas Hughes School Third Grade teacher Karen Stollen; William Woodruff School Fifth Grade teacher Sean Waller; Mountain Park School Fifth grade teacher Stacey Saravay; Columbia Middle School Sixth Grade teacher Emily Sena; and Gov. Livingston High School English teacher Christine Talarico.
"These teachers help to nurture our students every day in order to produce tomorrow's dreams," said Rattner.
Rattner introduced each honoree and spoke endearingly of their accomplishments.
Carol Sangiovanni, who began her career in the Berkeley Heights Public Schools as a Help Teacher in 2000 at the Hamilton Terrace School now known as Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center. She was immediately appointed to a full-time position and has been teaching First Grade since.
Anne Corley-Hand, Principal of Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center described Sangiovanni's extraordinary contribution to the school. "An outstanding teacher and leader among her fellow teachers, Mrs. Sangiovanni has become the go-to person on all new initiatives, ranging from iPads to Go Math."
Karen Stollen entered the field of education as a substitute teacher in the Watchung School District in 1987 and joined the Berkeley Heights Public Schools four years later. Stollen was hired as a First Grade teacher at Mountain Park School and moved over to Hughes School the following school year. Stollen has been teaching Third Grade since 2006.
"Karen has demonstrated a strong commitment to our school district as well as a great connection to her students and their families," said Jessica Nardi, Principal of Thomas P. Hughes School. "Mrs. Stollen is invested in the success of each of her students both academically and socially, and we are lucky to have her on our staff."
Sean Waller began his teaching career in 2000 in the Englewood School District. He came to William Woodruff School that following September as a Fourth Grade teacher. Waller started teaching Fifth Grade in 2001 and has continued in that role since.
Mr Waller knows how to get his students excited about learning said Patricia Gasparini, Principal of William Woodruff School. "This is best demonstrated when we see his students walk into the pages of history through role playing, portraying great explorers or a commoner during the American Revolution," said Gasparini. "Being a 'good citizen' is not just a Social Studies lesson, but a lesson in life in Mr. Waller's class."
Stacey Saravay joined the Mountain Park School faculty in 2005 as a Second Grade teacher recently jumping to Fifth Grade this past September.
"Stacey Saravay never fails to set the standard when it comes to all characteristics that describe a quality educator," said Jon Morisseau, Principal of Mountain Park School. "Whether it is collegial support and interaction, lesson preparedness, organization and presentation of instruction, or parent/guardian communication, Mrs. Saravay always exceeds expectations."
Emily Sena has been teaching Sixth Grade at Columbia Middle School since 1999, providing instruction in Mathematics and Language Arts before focusing strictly on Math during the current academic year.
"Mrs. Sena provides so much for her Sixth Graders, expanding both their Mathematics and social skills," said Frank Geiger, Principal of Columbia Middle School. "Students know her as a teacher they can turn to for any kind of assistance. Emily is always learning new ideas and strategies for use in the classroom."
Christine Talarico began teaching at Gov. Livingston High school in 2009. She has taught several courses within the school's English Department, including English 2 Honors, Introduction to Theater Arts, Backstage Theater Workshop, Acting Workshop and Public Speaking.
"Ms. Talarico is an extraordinarily talented educator who is committed to inspiring her student in all that she does," said Scott McKinney, Principal at Gov. Livingston High School. "Whether it is in the classroom or on the Davis Auditorium stage, her students are prepared for success and they exude her contagious enthusiasm."
"I want to thank all of our honorees for taking a hand, opening a mind and touching a heart because you are all very wise and truly see our future in every child's eyes," said Rattner.