New Providence High School Special Education teacher Jessica Beltz chosen as Teacher of the Year

New Providence High School Special Education Teacher Jessica Beltz receives her Golden Apple Award from Superintendent of Schools David Micelli on March 30 after being named Teacher of the Year. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
New Providence High School Principal Lauren Zirpoli, High School Teacher of the Year Jessica Beltz and Superintendent of Schools David Micelli at the Board of Education meeting on March 30. Credits: Barbara Rybolt

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Jessica Beltz, the New Providence High School Teacher of the Year, received a Golden Apple award from Superintendent of Schools David Miceli at the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, March 30

New Providence High School Principal Lauren Zirpoli introduced Beltz, a special education teacher whom she noted has "taught all grade levels within" the department.  Seven years ago, when Beltz was hired, was the first year of the Learning Disabled Program. "She has developed this program and truly changed her students' lives," Zirpoli said.

Beltz has served as a "job coach, transition coordinator and placement specialist. She has worked tirelessly with businesses within our community and has fostered relationships to successfully place her students in jobs that allow them to learn, grow and be successful," the principal said.

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A grant from the Education Foundation will allow her to teach her students how to use public transportation, so they will be able to continue to get to their jobs after graduation. Permanent jobs which she has helped her students get.

Zirpoli said the favorite project undertaken by Beltz and her students is the "'Go Green' initiative" started by her class. They pitched their plan, including their financial needs, to the principal and received her approval to proceed. They sold "water bottles to our student community to raise money to purchase a Green Energy and Water Efficient Drinking Fountain," and even designed the bottles. In the end, they purchased the water fountain which has saved "approximately 24,000 water bottles and counting," said Zirpoli.

The students also run a "Monthly Munchies" snack shop in their classroom and sell food they have prepared themselves -- from the shopping, to the baking and the price -- to students, staff and faculty members. 

Zirpoli said, "I would like to close by saying to Mrs. Beltz that you have the true gift of teaching. You have forever changed the lives of your students and our entire school community and we could not be prouder to congratulate you as our Teacher of the Year."

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