MONTVILLE, NJ - Two teachers from the Robert R. Lazar Middle School were recently chosen to participate in extraordinary educational opportunities.

Science teacher, Karin Simeone, was one of only 24 educators in New Jersey to have been selected to receive the New Jersey Science Teachers Association’s (NJSTA) Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award (MPSMA). As an award recipient, Simeone was asked to attend “The Next Generation in Life Sciences Instruction” at Rutgers University’s Summer Institute.

While at the institute, Simeone investigated how organisms’ cell structures enable them to live. She also studied ecosystems, heredity, and biological evolution.

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According to NJSTA, teachers who participated in the institute received 40 hours of instruction and left the training with “curricular tools to interest students in contemporary biological issues and an understanding of how to create Problem Based Learning units in the classroom.”

As a follow-up to the program, Simeone will be attending the New Jersey Science Convention on October 14-15. During the convention she will have the opportunity to participate in several of the 200 Standards-based sessions for professional development that will be offered. Additionally Simeone will be recognized as a Simmons Scholar.

“Educators such as Ms. Simeone provide inspiration for our students and fellow teachers throughout our state,” said Nancy Evans Bennett, the NJSTA and MPSMA Institute Administrator, and Kathy Ernst, NJSTA President, in a letter sent to Sharon Carr, Principal of Lazar Middle School. “We appreciate Ms. Simeone’s contributions to professional development and dedication to improving science education in New Jersey.”

Lazar English teacher, Suezette Given, was commended by the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program.

Given was chosen to participate in the 2014 “Clearing the Spring, Tending the Fountain” session that was held at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown this past May.

Given was one of seventeen groups of teachers, led by experienced Dodge Poets, who met throughout the state of New Jersey. Following the “Clearing the Spring, Tending the Fountain” session, Given was invited to “The Common Gathering,” an all-day poetry retreat in Princeton. Led by distinguished Dodge Poets and featuring poet, Henri Cole, the retreat consisted of a full-day of poetry discussions and readings.

The two retreats fulfilled several New Jersey professional development standards for English educators.

“Suzette Given has earned and fully deserves commendation for her willingness to undertake and to complete this course of creative reflection and study,” said Martin Farawell, Poetry Director of The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program in the Schools. “For years to come, fortunate New Jersey students will continue to benefit from her commitment to personal and professional development.”

Both teachers continue to pursue professional development opportunities to inspire and influence the subject matter they introduce in their classrooms.