HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -- The final Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education meeting of the 2018-19 school year opened with honoring the four Educators of the Year and the six teachers and staffers who are retiring from the school district.
The first recognition went to Hasbrouck Heights Middle School teacher Michael Stillman for being the advisor of the Hasbrouck Heights Junior Police Academy for 20 years. It was presented by Chief Michael Colaneri and members of the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department. Stillman oversees the annual Hasbrouck Heights Junior Police Academy, which runs the first week after school ends in June. Although the program is only one week, he works on it year-round.
"It's hard to believe that twenty years have gone by," said Police Chief Michael Colaneri. "One of the best things that we did was recruit Mike Stillman to give us a hand."
He explained that Officers Colaneri and Adamo, as part of their police academy training, were assigned a community policing project, which was a junior police academy. They discussed it with then Juvenile officer (now Mayor) Jack DeLorenzo and talked to different academies, including Teaneck, which said the town was "too small and won't get participation."
"Here we are twenty years later, ours is currently the longest running junior police academy in the county, and Teaneck's has been gone for many year. .The one constant through all the years we had was Mike Stillman," he said. "He got the kids involved. He works on it year round. Without him, ours would have closed up a long time ago, too."
Up next were recognitions of the 2019 Hasbrouck Heights Educators of the Year. Euclid School principal Michael Sickels honored media center director Betty Chiu.
"Betty has been a longtime teacher," said Euclid principal Michael Sickels. "This year she really stepped up her game. She brought such an amazing assembly to the Kindergarten and first graders back in December. And her most recent trip to the library was just outstanding, and that really shows how she's trying to improve the Media Center at Euclid School and we truly appreciate that."
Lincoln School principal Joseph Colangelo honored first grade teacher Alyssa Rogers.
"In business and education, you have employees and teachers that sometimes fly below the radar," he said. "They come to work everyday, they word hard. They do their job. They do it well.
"Even Mrs. Rogers classroom is kinda below the radar. It's in the basement, tucked away, by the Nurse's office, in the Kindergarten Wing. But if you walk by, you'll see amazing things happening there. She really pushes and has her students excel to amazing levels. And for a teacher who flies below the radar, she flies below no more as our Bergen County Teacher of the Year for Lincoln School."
Hasbrouck Heights Middle School principal Joseph Mastrpietro recognized math teacher Angela O'Brien.
"One of the best parts of being principal is the opportunity to talk about the outstanding teaching staff, people you work with each and every day," he said. "Angela O'Brien is a perfect example of one of those outstanding people. She has unbelievable passion for math that is unmatched by anyone I've ever met. Mr. D'Amico (vice principal) always like to use a quote If you're really passionate about something, and love something, it always shines through, and you become a master at that.
"Mrs. O'Brien has become a master in the classroom, a master at getting kids to love math. Her passion is second to none. She has touched many students over the years. She's a phenonomal educator."
High school pricnipal Linda Simmons honored district school nurse Mary Neumann.
"Whenever I think of her, I do think of the word 'amazing', being an amazing individual," said Simmons. "She wears so many hats in a given day. You'd be amazed how she's able to juggle it all and keep it all together.
"She is our school nurse but she was chosen as our educator because she an advocate for health education at the high school"... overseeing 1100 students and keep a "smile on her face." Simmons said Neumann runs the staff workshops on diabetes, epi pens, seizures, is part of the INRS team and monitors students' mental wellness.
The district also recognized the six teachers and staff members who are retiring at the end of the school year. Teachers Jane Gay, Lori Tomesco, Lori Cintron, and Antonionette Washburn, as well as para-professional Carmen del Sol and custodian Andy Singlary.
"This is very tough for me, beause Jane is like family to me," said Mastropietro, with Gay at his side. "When I started 17 years ago, I started on the seventh grade team. She welcomed me with a warm heart, taught me to be a professional, and made me a better educator each and every day. That's what she does for the other staff members, because she is a professional.
"There is no way she can ever be replaced in seventh grade. Every day when I walk by her room there's going to be a hole in my heart.
Euclid teacher Lori Tomesco was recognized by Sickels. He recounted in May reading a fifth grader's writing who wrote that Tomesco was "so kind and caring, she made Euclid School my second home."
"Lori is most compassionate and caring person I know," said Sickels. "But she's also the strongest person I know. You have taught me so much. You are an amazing person. And while I wish you were still teaching, I do realize there are more important things in life."
Superintedent of Schools Dr. Matthew Helfant called up para Carmen del Sol, who he had worked with in his prior position of Director of Special Services.
"He had some of the most challenging situations," said Helfant "He always handled them, and he never complained. He really provided a great service to students. They appreciatied it and I know we appreciated it.
Teacher Michael Warren spoke on behalf of the Hasbrouck Heights Education Association.
"Altogether, over one hundred years of experience are right in this room here," he noted. "Invaluable and I just wanted to thank the staff members, these retirees, congratuations on behalf of the HHEA.
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