RANDOLPH, NJ— Carmela Ferrentino, the beloved Spanish teacher at Randolph High School, has been named the 2017 Educator of the Year.
“It’s a true honor to be named Educator of the Year; a great feeling knowing that my hard work and dedication has been acknowledged by students, colleagues, and administrators alike,” said Senora Ferrentino, better known as ‘Ferr’, when talking about her recent honor of being named 2017 Educator of the Year. “However, my success was not solely achieved by me. It must be shared with my students and colleagues with whom I have collaborated, and with the administration that have supported all my efforts.”
Ferrentino is a self-described short, black haired Italian lady who has a fiery passion for teaching. Ferrentino has been teaching Spanish for 42 years, 28 of which have been at Randolph, and she’s not shy about saying she has enjoyed every last second of it.
“[Before teaching] I was a land developer and although it was a great experience and big money, it still did not satisfy me,” Ferrentino explained. “Teaching is really much a part of my life and I do not regret leaving as a land developer for a second.”
Her dedication toward teaching is like no other, as she stays up to all hours grading to make sure her students get their work back as soon as possible.
“She’s absolutely crazy,” exclaimed junior Brandon Tamres. “One time I wanted to know how I did on a test, so I emailed her after school to see when it was going to be posted. “I got an email back at two in the morning, saying ‘Just finished, great job’; her dedication is unreal.” Ferrentino is not shy about discussing her dedication, constantly bragging that she is, “One hundred percent dedicated to teaching.”
Ferrentino has an indescribably strong reputation among the student body of RHS.
“She’s a unique teacher who has a rare ability to make class extremely fun while getting so much learning done at the same time,” said junior Jake Steinfink. “As a student of Ferrentino, I really love that about her.”
“I’m a mean person so I don’t really know what it is that makes them love me,” Ferrentino joked. “But honestly, I’d guess that the students love me because of my unique eccentric personality. I really think that the students know I have their best interest at heart and that I really care about and respect them.”
In order to be named Educator of the Year, teachers must first be nominated by the students, parents, and other colleagues. From there they have to complete a form answering questions as to why they believe they fit the position. This form goes to a review board who determines the Educator of the Year award.
“I think I was given Educator of the Year because of my love for teaching and my ability to inspire students to be the best they can be in all facets of their lives,” said Ferrentino. “One of my best attributes is the fact that my class is very unique; it’s very lively and every day is an adventure. The other is making learning fun. In order to learn, students have to want to be there, so I do everything in my power to create an environment that is inviting, engaging, and meaningful.”
Ferrentino has a rare teaching style in which, “She does not allow us to speak in English, only Spanish,” explained Steinfink, when discussing the environment of her classroom
“One of my favorite moments as a teacher happened last year,” said Ferrentino, her face lighting up at the thought. “One of my students came in late, sits down, and then has the audacity to get up and go and get water. Well, that infuriated me, and of course I don’t react like any other teacher. So, I decided to play a little joke on him. I made the whole class go hide in the stairwell, and he was so confused when he got back and no one was in the room.”
Ferrentino admits the outcome of the rouse was ironic, but, as usual, the joke ended up being on her. “Again, I was the butt of the joke. Everything always seems to backfire because when the kids saw me running I think it was one of their most memorable moments. It has been a year now and they still mock me for it,” Ferrentino said, laughing as she spoke.
The bond Ferrentino and her students share is special, and she is not shy about giving a lot of the credit for her reward to her students. They are the ones who keep her going, she said, explaining that she was supposed to retire last year but remained at the school in order to further progress her last year’s students.
Ferrentino teaches for the satisfaction of it, plain and simple. “My students are my favorite part of teaching; they have made me successful and inspire me each and every day,” Ferrentino said. “After all, I could be on a tropical island sipping a pina colada in my little bikini but no, my students make it very hard for me to quit.”
Editor's Note: Sean Hert is a Junior at Randolph High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Randolph.