MONTCLAIR, NJ - Seventeen Montclair Public School teachers were awarded $2,000, flowers, and recognition for excellence in teaching at the 24th annual Judy and Josh Weston Awards public reception held on Monday.
Each year, the Judy and Josh Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching is given to teachers in the Montclair Public School system in recognition of their "creativity, high expectations, energy and concern for students."
Deputy Mayor Bob Russo, Town Councilor-At-Large Rich McMahon, Board of Education President Jessica de Koninck, and BOE members Anne Mernin, David Cummings, Eve Robinson, Laura Hertzog and Robin Kulwin were present.
More than 300 MPS students, parents, teachers, their loved ones and community members filled the George Inness Annex Atrium.
The recipients of this year’s Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching were:
Delia Maloy, Science, Glenfield Middle School
Jennifer Charyn, Science, Glenfield Middle School
Stephanie Cataneo, First Grade, Bullock School
Eli Siebert, Math/Science, Hillside
Tracey Lever, Physical Education, Hillside
Deborah Maher, Fifth Grade, Northeast
Corrine Haggerty, First Grade, Edgemont
Arin Leard, Art, Mount Hebron
Tameka Stafford, Special Education, Mount Hebron
Laurie Durber, Second Grade, Bradford
Rodney Jackson, Social Studies, Renaissance Middle School
Elaine Blafer, Second Grade, Watchung
Eric Eder, Physical Education, Nishuane
Mary Paolazzi, Kindergarten, Nishuane
Shana Stein, AP History, Montclair High School
Kari De Meo, Math, Montclair High School
Lynn English, Science, Montclair High School
Superintendent Ronald Bolandi kicked off the evening and welcomed everyone before introducing de Koninck.
He added, “I’ve been in a lot of school districts over the years and I’ve never seen such a generous couple in my entire career.”
Bolandi also read a proclamation from Assemblyman Tom Giblin recognizing the awards recipients and their achievements.
He then turned over the mike to de Koninck.
“What does it say when we have a larger crowd tonight than we do for board meetings?”, said de Koninck.
She thanked the MEA, PTA, building and district administrators for their presence.
de Koninck continued, “I also want to thank the Westons who, without, none of us would be here this evening for their sustained support of the Montclair school system. We are one of the luckiest communities in the United States.”
de Koninck also introduced and thanked the Weston Program chairs Wendy Sabin and Beth Wilensky.
Wilensky said she enjoyed working alongside Sabin, as this was her eighth and final year.
Sabin added, “It’s been a great journey. It’s an honor to have been part of this team and I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate with the Westons. I also just want to congratulate all of the winners.”
Attendees then watched a video produced by Amy Gideon, a member of the Weston Awards administration.
The video explained the administration of the Judy and Josh Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching is exclusively by parents. Nominations for the Weston Award are solicited from students, parents, and guardians of students currently attending the Montclair Public Schools.
The committee received over 320 nominations with 160 teachers being nominated. A selection committee of parent representatives from each school, and Judy Weston, selected the award recipients. The video also showcased the nominees in a photo. The winners were photographed and quoted.
After the video, Judy Weston announced the award recipients and quoted parents or students’ submissions, as Josh Weston and Beth Wilensky handed out checks and flowers respectively.
Judy Weston also thanked the BoE for being “tireless souls,” and allowing the public reception to take up time normally reserved for a public board meeting.
During the presentation of awards, students drifted towards the podium, showering their teachers with flowers, plants, hugs, and gifts.
Judy Weston added, “I’m glad you were all here.”
The Weston Awards culminated with refreshments, light snacks, and parents snapping photos of their children with the award-winning recipients.