In The Schools

Randolph Township Schools Name Teachers of the Year

Credits: Allison Freeman
Credits: Allison Freeman
Administrators surprised High School business teacher Martel Roberts during a business class to announce that she was named teacher of the year. The students gave her a standing ovation. Credits: Allison Freeman
Credits: Allison Freeman
Credits: Allison Freeman
Credits: Allison Freeman

RANDOLPH, NJ- Six Randolph teachers received surprise visits from their principals and Interim Superintendent Jennifer A. Fano on January 14 and 15 when the winners of the Teachers of the Year were announced.

The 2016 winners are: Center Grove: Marissa Kulahi (grade 4), Fernbrook: Maureen Frio (grade K), Ironia: Janice Freidland (grade 2), Shongum: Natalie Ernstes (general music), RMS: Rio Clemente (grade 6 social studies) and RHS: Martel Roberts (business).

Interim Superintendent Fano congratulated all of the winners last week as principals presented them with certificates and sometimes flowers and balloons. Some winners cried and one even screamed. Students cheered and clapped and one kindergartener made Ms. Frio a heart to congratulate her. It was an exciting time for everyone.

Sign Up for E-News

Each winner may apply for the Morris County Teacher of the Year. The Board of Education honors each winner with $500 to spend on something to support their instructional practices. The Randolph Education Foundation also honors the teachers at its Randolph Rocks event in November.

Center Grove Principal Mario Rodas said that Ms. Kulahi "has distinguished herself through her dedication to the art to teaching and her passion to teaching students. She is a role model to her students. She is an active participant in our school community and encourages her students to do the same."

"I am absolutely delighted to receive this award," said Ms. Kulahi, a four-year teacher at Center Grove who teaches in the fourth grade inclusion classroom with Lisa Rodimer. "My students truly make me strive to be the best educator I can be."

An emotional Maureen Frio screamed when Fernbrook Principal Danielle Soldivieri, Vice Principal Kristin Mueller, and Interim Superintendent Fano walked into her classroom. Her kindergarteners cheered and student Corinne Weiner presented her teacher with a pink heart she drew to congratulate her. Ms. Frio, a resident of Morris Plains, began teaching in Randolph in 1997 and has taught first grade at Ironia, pre-school and finally kindergarten at Fernbrook.

"I am very humbled and honored to be recognized with this award," Mrs. Frio said. "I love being a teacher and feel blessed that I have a job that my main purpose is to help young minds flourish. I love the primary grades for their magical spirit and authentic desire to learn.

 "I feel very lucky that I get to help my students embrace their learning year after year. While the curriculum and teaching techniques are constantly changing, the wonder in a child's eyes when learning something new or the hug they share with me is priceless. That is why I teach."

Fernbrook Principal Danielle Soldivieri noted that Mrs. Frio is the kind of educator who puts her students first. "Her passion, energy, and patience shine through in her daily interactions with her students. Mrs. Frio finds ways to work with and motivate her young students, while allowing them to find the joy and success in each and every day.  For these reasons, we are pleased to recognize Mrs. Frio as this year's teacher of the year."

Ironia Principal David Kricheff praised second grade teacher Janice Freidland. "Mrs. Freidland's impact on Ironia reaches far beyond the walls of her own classroom as she is not only a brilliant teacher, but also serves as a resource for all of her colleagues."

Mrs. Freidland is a 16-year district employee and a 22-year resident of Randolph. She is currently working on her LATI training in order to create an active learning environment for her students. "It is such a great honor to be recognized for the work I have done in the classroom," she said. "I am overwhelmed with pride. I love teaching and plan to continue to make a difference in the lives of my students."

Shongum general music teacher Natalie J. Ernstes, a resident of Hampton Township, said she "is truly humbled and honored" by the award and has been teaching and directing at Shongum School since 2000. Shongum Principal Cliff Burns noted that Shongum had "a plethora of qualified candidates" this year. "Of all of the candidates, the selection committee found Mrs. Ernstes as a true professional who gives all of herself in every lesson. She is well-deserving of this honor."

This is the third time that RMS Teacher of the Year Rio Clemente has won this award. Mr. Clemente, who is in his 15th year of teaching social studies at RMS, also received the award in the 2004-5 and 2008-9 school years. "I am very lucky that I have the chance to work in a place with such amazing people," said Mr. Clemente, a resident of Succasunna. "Everyone is so encouraging and helpful towards one another. It's because of this environment that a teacher can reach his or her potential."

RMS Principal Dennis Copeland made the announcement during a team meeting and praised Mr. Clemente for his hard work and dedication to RMS and RMS students. "Mr. Clemente consistently performs at the highest level for a teacher," Dr. Copeland said. "He is a master of the content and understands the social and emotional needs of the adolescent/pre-teen child. His receipt of the Teacher of the Year award is another indication of the impact he has made on students, parents and colleagues."

A large group of administrators surprised RHS business teacher Mrs. Martel Roberts during a class of students who then gave her a standing ovation. High School Principal Debbie Iosso said Mrs. Roberts is very deserving of the honor. "Martel Roberts is an outstanding business educator and a consummate professional," Ms. Iosso said.

"She continually looks for new ways to enhance her teaching and volunteers for numerous academic committees as her opinions are respected by both teachers and administrators.  She advised our Future Business Leaders of America and her members consistently win state awards.  Mrs. Roberts is frequently chosen by student athletes to be honored as their most influential teacher during their four years at RHS.  I can't say enough good things about Mrs. Roberts – she is an absolute gem and we are so happy to have her as part of our staff."

Roberts, a resident of Boonton, has taught a variety of business courses at RHS including Marketing, Marketing I Honors, Accounting, International Business, Career Pathways, Computer Applications, Business Principles and Introduction to Business. "I am honored to receive this recognition and appreciate all of the support that I received from the administration, fellow educators, students and the Randolph community along with my family throughout the 19 years that I have been employed at RHS."

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Road Resurfacing Work in Randolph for July 9 - 16

July 7, 2018

Below is a list of the streets for the upcoming resurfacing work. All roads will remain open for local traffic and emergency vehicles. Motorists should allow additional time for travel.

Street Name
Dates of Milling
Dates of Paving

Springhill Road - Forrest Road to #40

Musiker Avenue - Morey Lane to ...

Free Movie Night at Randolph Lake Fri. July 20

July 20, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph Municipal Alliance Committee (MAC) and the Randolph Parks & Recreation Department are hosting a free outdoor family movie night on Friday, July 20 at Randolph Park Beach (Green Lane). All are welcome to attend.

The movie, Paddington 2, will begin at 8:30 p.m. Refreshments will be sold at the snack stand. Admission to the lake is free after 7:00 p.m.

Upcoming Events


Mon, July 23, 9:30 AM

Randolph Township Free Public Library, Randolph

Nursery Rhyme Time

Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar Health & Wellness Other


Mon, July 23, 10:15 AM

Randolph Township Free Public Library, Randolph


Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar Education Other


Mon, July 23, 7:00 PM

Randolph Township Public Library, Randolph

The Break Lights

Community Calendar

Catriona Lucus Selected to Play in 2018 National Lacrosse Academy  

July 16, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ- Catriona Lucus, a rising freshman at Randolph High School has been named as a 2018 Maverik National Lacrosse All-Star and has been selected to attend the Maverik National Lacrosse Academy to be held July 16-19, 2018 in Frederica, Delaware at the DE Turf Sportsplex.

Catriona plays on the DEWLAX 2022 West club lacrosse team as well as being chosen to play with the DEWLAX ...

Rutgers Hikes Tuition, Student Fees for 2018-2019 Academic Year

July 20, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University Board of Governors today approved a 2.3 percent hike in tuition and fees, as well as increases for dorm rooms and meals, for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The increase now brings the annual cost for undergraduate students to $14,975, which is $337 more than this past school year.

Student housing will increase 1.9 percent, and ...

Local Kiwanis Clubs Support Children in Foster Care

July 20, 2018

Morristown, NJ-- Local Kiwanis Clubs of Greater Hamburg, Mount Olive, and Sussex have joined together to support Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Morris and Sussex Counties’ Project Graduation. The clubs are donating money to purchase gift cards which will be distributed to children and teens in foster care graduating from elementary, middle, and high school.


CASA of ...

Garden State Urology named a Center of Excellence by NAFC

Urology group recognized for exemplary care, dedication to patients

WHIPPANY, NJ – Garden State Urology, part of Atlantic Medical Group, was recently designated a Center of Excellence by the National Association for Continence.

Garden State Urology is a cooperative urology group that provides residents in northwestern New Jersey with a modern, integrated, comprehensive health care ...

Registration open for Randolph Hebrew with Early Bird Discount!

Entering its 17th year, Randolph Hebrew of Morris County has opened registration to new students for the upcoming school year that is set to begin on Sunday, September 16th.

Randolph Hebrew enjoys a well-earned reputation as a trend setter in creative Jewish education. It's well trained staff, cutting edge curriculum along with the teacher to student ration allows for individualized ...

Take the 2018 TAPinto Reader Survey

How often do you read TAPinto?  Have you downloaded the TAPinto APP?  These are a few of the questions for readers in our 2018 TAPinto Reader Survey.

We want to hear from you!

The survey will take less than five minutes to complete and will help TAPinto better serve you. 

Take the 2018 TAPinto Reader Survey.

Thank you.  We appreciate your support and ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.