MONTVILLE, NJ – Seven educators, one from each of Montville Township’s public schools, were selected this month as Teacher of the Year. On Jan. 23, one of them, Nancy Bostwick of Robert R. Lazar Middle School, was selected to represent Montville Township at the Morris County level.

“All seven of our buildings' Teachers of the Year are wonderful educators,” said Dr. Paul Fried, Superintendent of Schools for Montville Township. “Naming the District Teacher of the Year, from among such a prestigious group, was certainly challenging.” 

The Montville Township Public School system is comprised of five elementary, one middle and one high school. More than 600 teachers support the students of the Montville Township school district. A committee of administrators, parents, teachers and a member of the Montville Township Board of Education, chose Bostwick to represent the district at the county level.

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Prior to becoming a teacher, Bostwick worked for fifteen years in the World Trade Center. Sept. 11, 2001 brought an end to her first career as the Manager of Real Estate Paralegals for an international law firm.

“9/11 became more than just about no longer having a job to return to,” Bostwick recently wrote. “Like many, I felt lost and a bit out of sorts.”

It was then that Bostwick began volunteering in her daughter’s fourth grade class. She helped all the students with class projects and activities. Ultimately she was drawn to assisting lower level students with reading projects. By the end of the year the classroom teacher, principal, and many parents thanked her for helping to improve the performance of the class, particularly among the lower level students. The classroom teacher then suggested Bostwick look into becoming a teacher.

“It had not dawned on me until that moment how happy and content I was in the classroom,” Bostwick noted. “I was making a difference in the lives of these children.”

Bostwick, a 2006 graduate of the College of St. Elizabeth, has been teaching eighth grade language arts and literacy at Lazar for six years. She was a member of the Character Education Committee and Discipline Committee. She also served as a founding member of The Write Eye, Lazar’s student produced magazine that showcases student writing and artwork.

“Nancy Bostwick is a wonderful teacher,” added Principal Sharon Carr. “She has such an inspiring story. Coming to teaching as a second career, she brings so much to the classroom. Her students really learn.”

In addition to Bostwick, Montville Township’s seven teachers of the year include: Trudy Coppola (Cedar Hill Elementary, Grade 3), Joe Di Giacomo (Montville Township High School, Guidance), Kelly Forst (Hilldale Elementary, Grade 2), Tina Janis (Woodmont Elementary, Grade 4), Tracy Stewart (Valley View Elementary, Basic Skills) and Brooke Williams (William Mason Elementary, Grade 5).

The 2014 Teachers of the Year come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

Coppola has been teaching full-time for five years and was a paraprofessional in kindergarten for nine years before that. She is known for building on her students’ previous knowledge, as well as her own, to enhance instructional strategies.

Di Giacomo has been in education for 33 years. He is highly regarded for helping students feel good about themselves and inspiring them to never give up on their aspirations.

Forst is 12 years into her teaching career. The hallmark of her teaching style is positive reinforcement. Her encouraging approach to learning is consistently credited by her students and their families for fostering excitement in learning.

Janis recently described herself as “a shy yet hard-working learner.” While her official teaching career spans 14 years, she has been described as a born teacher and a teacher’s teacher.

Stewart’s father was a physical education teacher and head football coach at Parsippany Hills High School for 38 years. She has been teaching for 23 years. Her skills as a Basic Skills teacher are held in high esteem by her colleagues as well as the students she has taught.

Williams has 15 years of teaching experience. Her specialty is in working with inclusion classes. She has consistently helped students to reach goals in even their most difficult subjects.

“I congratulate all of our Teachers of the Year,” added Dr. Fried. “To be chosen as Teacher of the Year is no small honor. It means you have gone above and beyond in helping students to learn and achieve and that you are a leader and a role model for your peers.”