HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – Dr. Jorden Schiff, Superintendent of Schools, recognized 14 educators selected by parents, students and colleagues for their devotion and dedication to their students at the Jan. 30 Board of Education meeting.

One teacher from each of the district’s 9 schools was selected as Teacher of the Year; five educational services professionals were selected as ESPs of the Year.

Each was acknowledged for inspiring a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.

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Over the last two months, Hillsborough parents, students, and colleagues were given the opportunity to nominate a teacher and educational services professional who goes above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of their students.

A committee from each school reviewed the nominations and chose a Teacher of the Year from each building, two co-ESPs of the Year from the six elementary schools and and an ESP of the Year from Hillsborough High School, Hillsborough Middle School, and Auten Road Intermediate School.

“This is a group of professionals who dedicate themselves to support their students, peers and school communities,” Schiff said. “It is an honor to work with these and the hundreds of other excellent staff members throughout this district.”

The following teachers were each recognized by their individual schools:

● Kelly Mehring, 1st grade teacher, Amsterdam Elementary School - Mehring,  who attended Hillsborough Schools as a student, is a teacher dedicated to excellence in the classroom as well as a strong school environment. She is an active participant in Amsterdam’s character education program and a leader in professional development.

● Sarina Rutz, physical education teacher, Hillsborough Elementary School -  Rutz has been a physical education teacher in Hillsborough for 20 years. Each day she brings her magic into the gym by providing students with an exciting learning experiences. Her enthusiasm and love of health, physical education and fitness is contagious and her students always leaves the gym with smiles on their faces.

● Nancy Levinski, 4th grade teacher, Sunnymead Elementary School - Levinski has been a teacher at Sunnymead Elementary School for the past 16 years. She has taught both third and fourth grades and is an extremely dedicated to her students. She meets everyday with boundless enthusiasm that is contagious.

● Courtney Kuboski, LLD teacher, Triangle Elementary School -  Kuboski has been a teacher at Triangle Elementary School since 2009, and a teacher of learning and language disabled students for the past six years. Each day, Kuboski’s students are excited to come to school and learn because, in her classroom, each student knows that they are special and loved.

● Joseph Dugan, 2nd grade teacher, Woodfern Elementary School -  After visiting a good friend’s 5th grade classroom to assist students with a Mother’s Day project, Dugan knew teaching was where he wanted to be. A career change and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education followed which led Dugan to Hillsborough where he has been making a difference in the lives of his students since 2000.

● Marybeth Jordan, special education teacher, Woods Road Elementary School - Jordan is certified in elementary education and preschool. She has spent the last eight and a half years of her 30 years in education as a preschool teacher in Hillsborough. By simply stepping into Jordan’s classroom, one can feel the comfort and respect she gives to her young students. Her room is a happy place where children love to learn.

● Rita Mishikitis, special education teacher, Auten Road Intermediate School -  Mishikitis has spent her 16 years in education with Hillsborough schools and her students, both past and present, would want it no other way. She shares her love of math and learning with her 5th grade math special education students in a caring environment that lets each student grow at their own pace.

● Christina Simons, 8th  grade literacy teacher, Hillsborough Middle School - In addition to her creative and inspirational work in her literacy classroom, Simons also tries to bring her passion and love for literacy to as many Hillsborough Middle School students as possible in a fun and exciting way. She has established several extra-curricular clubs including the “ShakesPeer” Society which recruits students to take on the challenge of performing works of Shakespeare.

● Tracey Jameson, special education teacher, Hillsborough High School - Jameson joined Hillsborough High School staff in the spring of 1999 and teaches special education and science classes. She is well known for her dedicated work ethic, constant contagious smile, positive energy, and her added extra sparkle on what she has dubbed “Tiara Tuesday.”

The following Educational Services Professionals (ESPs) were each recognized by their schools:

● Nicole Shahinian, speech and language pathologist, Triangle Elementary School - Shahinian has been at Triangle Elementary School since 2008 and works with students of all grades and abilities. She is a selfless, talented, and knowledgeable professional who is an advocate for her students as well as a resource to her colleagues.

● Meagan Ludwig, school psychologist, Woods Road Elementary School - Ludwig has been with Hillsborough schools for the past 12 years as a school psychologist. She works tirelessly to aid students with disabilities and their families to understand their strengths and weaknesses and how they can reach their full potential.

● Patricia Brower, school counselor, Auten Road Intermediate School - Brower has been a school counselor at Auten Road School for the past 18 years. She is dedicated to the students and school community. Brower is in charge of organizing the advisory program which helps support a community of respect in her school.

● Krista Williams, school nurse, Hillsborough Middle School - With a diverse background of nursing experiences, Williams is a dedicated health professional that provides gentle care to the students and staff of Hillsborough Middle School. She is an integral member of the Crisis Management Team and the Intervention & Referral Committee which helps address the needs of at-risk students on a continuous basis.

● Gil Pilarte, student assistance counselor, Hillsborough High School - Pilarte is well known around Hillsborough High School for his sense of humor and his ability to provide students with a haven to express themselves and work through their concerns productively. He is co-advisor for Sources of Strength and Peer Mentoring, clubs that aim to provide students with skills to support their peers that are facing crises and obstacles.

Each of these teachers and educational support professionals are now eligible to be considered for the top teacher and professional for Somerset County and then on to the state level as part of the 2016-17 Governor’s Educator of the Year (GEOY) Program. This program combines the Teacher of the Year Program with the Governor’s Teacher/Educational Services Professional Recognition Program and aims to recognize the hard work and dedication of New Jersey teachers and staff members.