Berkeley Heights Teacher Honored as Union County VFW Teacher of the Year: Operation We Remember Instills Patriotism in Young Citizens

Gifted and Talented teacher Andrea Masri was honored as Union County VFW Teacher of the Year for her involvement with Operation: We Remember. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Operation: We Remember assembly held February 25, 2016. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Andrea Masri was honored as Union County VFW Teacher of the Year Credits: Bobbie Peer
Veterans Memorial Park re-dedication ceremony. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Fallen Soldier donated by the late Vito Mondelli. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Woodruff Elementary School teacher Andrea Masri has been honored by the Union County District VFW as Teacher of the Year for her work involving her district Gifted and Talented [QUEST] students in raising awareness to the Township's veterans. through "Operation: We Remember." 
Gerry Barter, a former Lieutenant platoon leader in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and Quartermaster of Berkeley Heights VFW Post 6259, nominated Masri as Teacher of the Year at the Post level and she was unanimously approved as the Post nominee.  "She was then presented to the District representing our Post where she was again selected to represent the District (Union county) at the State level competition," said Barter. The State award will be announced mid June.
Masri was tasked with educating young citizens of the sacrifices made by veterans of the United States Military and share the importance of the mission behind "Operation: We Remember" and the newly renovated Veterans Memorial Park, which was recently renovated thanks to the efforts of Ted Romankow and the Berkeley Heights Veterans Memorial Restoration committee.
Committee member Gay Hollowell reached out to Woodruff Principal Patty Gasparini and Masri to involve students in their educational mission -- "Operation: We Remember."

Masri and Gasparini discussed a few ideas and decided to have the Gifted and Talented Program-QUEST reach out to local veterans. First, it was necessary to teach the students about the different branches of our armed forces, said Masri. "They needed to learn how we recognize our soldiers and why monuments and other structures are built to honor them for their service to our country."
They went on a virtual tour of the monuments and memorials in Washington DC and learned the significance of each: how their designs reflected the group being honored, the importance of Arlington National Cemetery and the vigilant watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the meaning behind the flag and medal of each branch of service.  
The students were then taught interview skills in preparation for their most important endeavor of meeting with the 16 local veterans and service members from WWII to current conflicts in the Middle East to ask them to share their stories.
"The students sat down with each veteran and asked them questions about their childhood, why they joined the service and significant stories they were willing to share about their service," said Masri. The students then wrote a biography based on the interview. Then, each biography was brought together and put into book form, that captured in words each veteran's life story. Finally, the book was sent off to a publisher, [made possible through a grant funded by the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation.
"I was amazed by the questions that were asked," said Barter, "evidence of great preparation by the students and Mrs. Masri. The students showed great interest in us and our time in the service.
"After the interviews, I received a package with thank you notes from each of the five students who interviewed me," said Barter. "I thought that was great and was very proud of the experience. As you know, Vietnam vets have not received much recognition. I was so proud that Andrea would take a topic like veterans to instill patriotism in her students."  
The year long planning culminated into an assembly on February 25, 2016 that was "truly a celebration of appreciation and gratitude for our veterans," said Masri.
The veterans featured were invited to attend the assembly where a slide show was presented. The program grew to include all grades at Woodruff Elementary School with the Art and Music teachers working with the students on scenery and banners and musical performances. Each grade sang a patriotic song, 
The assembly was attended by students, teachers, parents and other residents including Mayor Bob Woodruff and past mayors and town council members.
Each veterans' story was presented to the assembly in detail. "Many of us had tears in our eyes of being recognized in this manner," said Barter.
These students not only learned the importance of Veterans Day, but now understand the importance of recognizing those who served the country. "The students gained a sense of community and pride for our veterans," said Masri.
"The commemorative books that were created have touched not just the veterans who were a part of the project but their families and the community as a whole," said Masri.
Each veteran received a copy of the book, as well as a framed certificate of appreciation. The illustrated book entitled 'Operation We Remember," an overview of the Quest program and three pages dedicated to each of the sixteen interviewed veterans can be found in each of the Berkeley Heights School District libraries as well as the township's public library. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Annual Dinner and Tricky Tray Returns to Support Rescue Dogs

February 19, 2018

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Guests can win more than 100 prize baskets, enjoy a full-scale Italian-themed dinner, take part in a super 50/50 raffle, and make a tangible difference to thousands of rescue dogs on March 3 as Home for Good Dog Rescue’s annual “Taste of Italy” Spaghetti & Meatballs Dinner and Tricky Tray returns for the ninth consecutive year to the Long Hill ...

Center for Hope Hospice Starts 2018 with $10,000 Donation from RSI Bank

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – RSI Bank, headquartered in Rahway, has been a long-time supporter of the Center for Hope Hospice, which offers hospice and palliative care in its two residences, in patients’ homes and other healthcare settings.

A generous donation from the bank has helped the Center start the year with $10,000 more in its Charitable Care Program, which enables those ...

Third Annual Rockin' For Autism Music Festival

All-day festival benefiting Autism New Jersey will feature local bands, food trucks, vendors, a merchant raffle, bake sale, obstacle course and lots of family fun! Join us for a day of great music, food, fun -- and help us raise funds and awareness for a great cause.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday. April 14, in LaGrande Park. 200 LaGrande Ave., ...

HOLD: Fellowship Helping Hands Receives Home Care Award

Fellowship Helping Hands, the home care agency operated by Fellowship Senior Living in Basking Ridge,  has received the 2018 Best of Home Care® – Provider of Choice Award from Home Care Pulse, announced Liz Fandel, vice president of Home Community Based Services at Fellowship Senior Living.

Fellowship Helping Hands is a New Jersey licensed home care service for older and ...

Colleen Mahr Is The Leader Our Party Needs

February 13, 2018

Dear Editor:

My name is Patti Murgo. I am Committeewoman in Linden’s Eighth Ward. I am a life-long  DEMOCRAT, a party activist, and a believer in what being a democrat stands for. Last week, I received a piece of literature from our municipal chairman, Nick Scutari, regarding his “plans” for the County Democratic Party if he is elected county chairman.


No One Is More Qualified and Capable to be Our Next Democratic Committee Chair Than Colleen Mahr

Dear Editor:

Mayor Colleen Mahr has been a pillar of consistency in Union County for the last 20 years, having devoted her life to public service. There is no one more qualified and capable to lead us as our next Union County Democratic Committee Chair.

Colleen has mentored, coached and supported countless candidates running for office in Union County, all across our 21 ...

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, February 19

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Mon, February 19, 7:00 PM

Villagers Theatre, Somerset

Hairspray Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, February 20

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, February 21

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, February 21, 2:00 PM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

The Underground Railroad Documentary

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, February 22

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Invest Like a Tortoise -- Not Like a Hare

Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” is a perfect metaphor for the way people go about investing their money. As you recall in the fable, the hare brags about his ability to beat the tortoise and is overly confident about winning. In the investment world, the hare is someone who thinks he or she is great at selecting “winners” and avoiding “losers.” The ...