CLIFTON, NJ - The Nutley Jaycees held their 47th annual Distinguished Service Awards at a community banquet in April in the Valley Regency in Clifton. Honorees were Robyn Powell, Nutley Fire Dept. Capt. Thomas Nicolette, Kevin Knight, Janet Canonico and Michael J. Nevin.

The judges’ panel consisted of Walt Smith, chairman; Dr. Steven Clarke; John Brown; Julie Glazer, Superintendent of Nutley Schools; Barbara Hirsch former director of special education and community volunteer; and Fred Scalera former N.J. Assemblyman and Board of Education trustee.

Robyn Powell

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Nutley Public Schools Coordinator K-12 Health Physical Education and Nursing Supervisor Robyn Powell received as Educator of the Year. 

Powell has had a long history of educational excellence dedicated to improving the health and wellness of students throughout the district.

For the past 25 years, Robyn Powell has served the Nutley school district, working as a health and physical education teacher, with her first seven years as an athletic trainer. She presently serves as the Nutley Public Schools coordinator for K-12 health and physical education and nursing supervisor.

Powell is also the coordinator of the Flex Academic Support Program, and advisor of the Nutley High School Academy of Health Professions, H.O.S.A and Varsity Club.  In June 2013, she was honored with the Governor’s Teacher Recognition Award as well as NHS Teacher of the Year.

She was an adjunct professor at the College of St. Elizabeth, Morris County Community College and Rutgers University. She has taught nutrition, exercise physiology, professional fitness and assessment, first aid, CPR, and strength and conditioning.

Powell has completed three Ironman distance triathlon finishes and 24 marathon finishes. 

Michael J. Nevin

Nevin received the Outstanding Young Man of the Year award. Although Nevin was born with Cerebral Palsy and is quadriplegic, nothing has stopped him from uplifting those who know him with his humanity, selflessness, and determination to contribute his talents to others. Nevin has been able to speak through the use of computer technology.

Nevin was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1983. He moved to Nutley at the age of two and attended Lakeview School in Edison from age 5 to 12 years old. He was then integrated into the Nutley School System.

In high school he spent two days a week at Bergen Community College, as an advanced placement senior. In 2002 he graduated NHS as a National Honor Roll student. Nevin continued schooling at Bergen Community College.

He participated in the DARE to DREAM program, a student self-advocacy program, sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Education. He now speaks at these conferences annually. He participated in several job sampling experiences such as Clara Maass Medical Center, as a part of the transition program in high school. In 2008, he was appointed as a volunteer member of the New Jersey State Special Education Advisory Council, where he served for six consecutive years. Nevin assisted in the implementation of state legislation for special education students.

ln 2006, while volunteering in the computer room at First Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey, in Belleville, Nevin was given a job as a computer aide. He was also on the transition team where he taught the students about self-advocacy and assisted students with communication skills. He is now part of the administrative team as a program aide.

Capt. Thomas Nicolette

In the field of public health and safety, Nicolette, who was born and raised in Nutley, has served the community in numerous capacities involving a wide variety of fire and safety positions that has spanned the past 32 years.

Since January 2010, he has been assigned as captain commanding the Third Tour of the Nutley Fire Department. He started his career with serving in the Fire Department Junior Program in 1986, then as a volunteer firefighter, a civilian employee, and in 1994 becoming a career firefighter. He has worked to assist in the development of many of the department’s safety and operating procedures in fire response, Haz Mat response, and the Office of Emergency Management.  After the 9/11 attacks in New York City, he coordinated and supervised the decontamination of 10,000 citizens at the Hoboken Terminal.

Nicolette holds numerous certifications including Fire official/inspector; firefighter 1;  safety officer;  fire service instructor level 2; incident command 100, 300 and 700; NJ Haz Mat specialist, technician instructor, and decon instructor;  NJ Criminal Justice police instructor certification, NJ Emergency Management coordinator; New Jersey State Police exercise, design and evaluation certificate, New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice – cause and origin investigator and FEMA Mass Care G-108.

Nicolette has volunteered for more than a decade as a Nutley East Little League coach and helps with field maintenance. He also coaches the Clifton Hockey Club.

He and his wife Rachel reside in Nutley and have two children, Chase and Andrew.

Kevin Knight

Knight received the Nutley’s Business award for 2018. Knight, was born, raised and schooled in Nutley. He has 23 years of professional experience in the sports, entertainment and media industries as an entrepreneur, broadcaster, athlete and marketing consultant. He has worked with small business owners to create promotional and public relation strategies by the development of websites, social media platforms and other ventures in the health and entertainment fields.

His social media skills have given him extensive experience in marketing, public relations and community outreach. He has been featured on virtually every media outlet as well as participating in a national Burger King TV commercial and several local commercials.

Knight is a professional wrestler who, for nearly 20 years, ran a highly successful, full-time professional wrestling camp.  He trained aspiring wrestlers the mechanics of professional wrestling, many of whom gained employment in the field. He produced wrestling shows for young and old alike with over 700 live events throughout New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

His business skills have allowed 44 of his graduates to receive World Wrestling Federation tryouts and 11 of them obtaining full-time employment. In addition to local charity involvement, Knight is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce.

For over 14 years, Knight has raised monies for the Nutley Fire Department, Nutley PBA, Nutley Special Needs programs, little league, St. Jude’s Children’s Research, Tomorrow Children’s Fund and Relay for Life for The American Cancer Society.

He organizes a yearly professional wrestling show in Nutley for Relay for Life. Since 2012, his event has raised over $24,000.

Janet Canonico

Canonico received the Civic Affairs Award. Canonico is a lifelong volunteer. She serves as a volunteer board member with the Community School in Nutley and has been treasurer for over 25 years.  She’s also been a volunteer for NFSB for over 20 years and helps in the Thrift Shop. 

She is a member of the Nutley Democratic Club and Nutley Democratic Committee serving as treasurer.  Canonico has been active with Grace Episcopal Church for more than 30 years.  She was also a Girl Scout leader, Sunday school teacher and cared for foster children through DYFS for about six years.

She has volunteered largely with small groups to accomplish specific projects such as developing, funding and opening the Infant Toddler Center at Grace Church which is part of Community School.  She also helped in developing and opening the school age summer camp program at Vincent Methodist Church, also part of Community School.

She is married to Steve Canonico for 40 years and has three children, Patrick, Katie and Ann.