RANDOLPH, NJ- Six Randolph teachers received surprise visits from their principals, supervisors, directors, and Superintendent Jennifer A. Fano on January 5 when the Educators of the Year were announced.
The 2018 recipients are: Randolph High School: Michael Lonie (social studies), Randolph Middle School: Robert Chernow (science), Center Grove: Beata Darbig (grade 5), Fernbrook: Michele Savvides (library/media specialist), Ironia: Linda Andrews (grade 5), Shongum: Lisa Kruse-Marcus (grade 4).
Superintendent Fano congratulated all of the winners as principals presented them with certificates, flowers and balloons. Some winners were overwhelmed by the surprise and were literally speechless while others became emotional, wiped tears from their faces and hugging everyone in the room. Students cheered and clapped for their teachers, some even posing in photos with them. It was an exciting time for everyone.
Each winner may apply for the Morris County Educator of the Year and the Board of Education honors each winner with $500 to spend on something to support their instructional practices. The Randolph Education Foundation also honors these six teachers at its annual Randolph Rock Star event in June.
When a large group of administrators walked into RHS Social Studies teacher Michael Lonie’s classroom and Principal Debbie Iosso announced that he was the high school’s 2018 Educator of the Year, Mr. Lonie looked shocked. “For me, this honor is a testament to the strength of community at Randolph High School, and to all those individuals who have helped to guide me along my journey as a teacher,” he said. “The sense of community makes RHS such a fantastic place to teach and learn every day. The administrators, teachers, and students are truly a community of learners who work together to constantly improve. I am driven by the camaraderie of my fellow teachers, whose ideas, compassion and dedication motivate me, and by my students, whose passion for learning is the reason why I love to teach."
Mr. Lonie, a resident of Parsippany where he lives with his wife, Randolph High School English teacher Michelle Lonie, has an undergraduate degree in history and Arabic from Georgetown University as well as a Master’s of Arts in teaching from the College of New Jersey. He is currently working towards his Master of Arts in Educational Leadership at Montclair State University. He is in his fourth year of teaching at Randolph High School where he teaches U.S. History 1 Honors, Advanced Placement European History and Advanced Placement Seminar (which is part two of the two-year AP Capstone Program) and has taught Holocaust, Genocide Studies, Philosophy, World History and Advanced Placement Research.
“A few minutes in Mr. Lonie’s classroom is enough time to realize not only his innate natural teaching ability, but you can actually feel the mutual respect between students and teacher,” Mrs. Iosso said. “Mr. Lonie is a master of his content, but even more important he has the ability to lead his students to deeper learning rather than simply instruct them. RHS is extremely proud of all our staff members and Mr. Lonie is a shining example of the talent at RHS! We are so excited to congratulate him as the 2018 teacher of the year for RHS!”
RHS Humanities Supervisor Ben Horwitz noted that Mr. Lonie makes a difference in the classroom connecting with students in a student-centered learning environment as well as outside of the classroom where he serves as advisor to several high school clubs. “Whether it is inspiring teenagers to learn in his class or making a positive difference in the community, Mr. Lonie promotes the very best in our students,” Mr. Horwitz said.
When Randolph Middle School Principal Dennis Copeland announced that seventh grade science teacher Robert Chernow was the 2018 Educator of the Year for Randolph Middle School, his students cheered and applauded. “As a teacher, I feel fully supported by Principal Dennis Copeland and Middle School STEM Supervisor Anne Vitale-Richardson and have been encouraged to develop new classes (Sustainability), a new extra-curricular club (Green Schools Club), and present at professional meetings (New Jersey Science Convention) and Sterling Hill GeoSTEM Workshop,” he said. “The real reward is helping to guide our youth in understanding our world so that they can practice sustainability and make choices that have a positive impact on the environment, society and business.”
Mr. Chernow, a resident of Chester, teaches Grade 7 Science and Sustainability and has taught Earth Science, Grade 6 Science at RMS and Earth Science and Meteorology at RHS. He has taught in Randolph for 16 years, eight at RMS and eight at RHS. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Lafayette College and a master’s degree in geology from the University of Georgia.
“Mr. Chernow is an expert and lecturer in Earth Science at both the district and university levels,” Dr. Copeland said. “His contributions in the areas of learning and work environment along with beautification have greatly enhanced our school building.”
With a broad smile and a bouquet of flowers, Center Grove Principal Mario Rodas entered the fifth grade classroom of teacher Mrs. Beata Darbig during a math lesson and announced to her enthusiastic class that their teacher was just selected as the school’s Governor’s Educator of the Year. “Mrs. Darbig is a highly devoted teacher whose dedication goes beyond the classroom,” Mr. Rodas said. “Her different professional and personal experiences make her an amazing educator and a great role model to all her students. She dedicates endless hours to her craft and builds lifelong relationships with her students and peers. Mrs. Darbig is well deserving of being recognized as Center Grove’s Educator of the Year.”
Afterwards, Mrs. Darbig posed for photos with her students who said this honor “validates all of my hard work.” “Randolph is a great place to teach because the district lets you be creative in your teaching style and always has the best interest of their students in mind. I love teaching at Center Grove School because my students inspire me every day. Most of all, I am lucky to have such wonderful colleagues and building administration who always motivate and support me and like to collaborate.”
Mrs. Darbig, who lives in Flanders, has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in biology from Kean University’s College of Education. She is in her 12th year of teaching fifth grade and has also taught first and second grade.
Fernbrook Library/Media Specialist Michele Savvides was overcome with emotion when Fernbrook Principal Dr. Michelle Telischak announced her selection as the Educator of the Year for Fernbrook School. “I am honestly quite surprised,” she said. “We have so many great teachers here and it’s a statement that Randolph values all teachers when a special teacher is represented.
“Fernbrook is a very special place,” she said. “Our student population represents a crosscut of America, as they are diverse in heritage, background and talent. I love getting to know the students and recognizing those talents in many of them. Fernbrook teachers are the most caring, progressive teachers that I have ever worked with.”
Ms. Savvides, a resident of West Milford, taught in the South Orange-Maplewood School District and in East Hanover before coming to Randolph. She has a bachelor’s degree in education, a library certification and a Master’s in Educational Technology, all from William Paterson University.
Fernbrook Principal Dr. Michelle Telischak said Fernbrook is fortunate to have Ms. Savvides on staff. “Ms. Savvides is an innovative and dedicated member of our team at Fernbrook who works collaboratively with all of our students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She has been instrumental in the development of a makerspace which provides students with opportunities to explore science, technology, engineering, and math through hands-on learning experiences.”
When Ironia Principal David Kricheff surprised fifth grade teacher Linda Andrews announcing her as Ironia’s Educator of the Year, she was overwhelmed and wiped her overflowing eyes. When teachers came in to the room to hug her and former student Brendan Laqui, now an eighth grader at Randolph Middle School, and mom Liz Clogher, surprised her with flowers, she needed even more tissues. Brendan’s younger brother Darren is in her class.
“Linda Andrews is an outstanding teacher and leader,” Mr. Kricheff said. “She challenges her students to reach new heights by asking them to set ambitious goals and then working with them to collaboratively develop a plan to achieve these goals. Mrs. Andrews consistently strives to enhance her craft and then contributes to the development of her peers by leading a wide variety of teacher training sessions and building initiatives. Ironia is so very fortunate to have such a dedicated and passionate teacher who is committed to enriching the lives of all she comes in contact with.”
Mrs. Andrews said she was humbled by this honor. “There are so many gifted educators at Ironia. Teaching is a rewarding profession. Working with students brings me great joy and I feel grateful to be recognized for doing something that I love.”
Mrs. Andrews, who is in her 14th year teaching in Randolph, has lived in Randolph for 31 years. She has an undergraduate degree in English from Drew University and a Master’s in Education from the College of St. Elizabeth.
Shongum fourth grade teacher Lisa Kruse-Marcus, who is a resident of Boonton, said she was “beyond flattered” when Shongum Principal Dr. Cliff Burns surprised her with the news. “Parents typically submit the nominations to start the process and having peers and administration be in accord is quite humbling,” she said. “It is such a wonderful way to be acknowledged for my contributions to the school and the students.
“Shongum has a unique warmth and the administration offers us the flexibility to be able to create our own teaching style, within the framework of district and school goals,” said the 13-year Randolph teacher who has taught both fourth and fifth grades. She also taught in Massachusetts for one year.
“Mrs. Kruse-Marcus is an outstanding educator and person,” said Principal Burns. “Her commitment, professional conduct, and skill are evident to all here at Shongum School. Most importantly, Mrs. Kruse-Marcus places her students first in all that she attempts to do while maintaining one of the most supportive learning environments.”
Mrs. Kruse-Marcus has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin and has 13 credits towards a Master’s degree from Central Michigan University.