Randolph Township Schools Names 2017 Educators of the Year

Credits: Allison Freeman
Credits: Allison Freeman
Credits: Allison Freeman
Credits: Allison Freeman
Credits: Allison Freeman
Credits: Allison Freeman

RANDOLPH, NJ- Six Randolph teachers received surprise visits from their principals, supervisors, directors, and Superintendent Jennifer A. Fano on Jan. 9 when the winners of the Educators of the Year were announced.

The 2017 recipients are: Center Grove: Erica Rossmann (kindergarten), Fernbrook: Christopher Kerr (grade 5), Ironia: Tricia Bourke (grade 4), Shongum: Joanne Kesten (grade 5), RMS: Christopher Scroggins (grade 8 mathematics) and RHS: Carmela Ferrentino (Spanish).

Superintendent Fano congratulated all of the winners Monday as principals presented them with certificates, flowers and balloons. Some winners were overwhelmed by the surprise and were literally speechless while others covered their faces and then hugged 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.

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Each winner may apply for the Morris County Educator 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 these six teachers at its annual Randolph Rock Star event in November.

Center Grove Principal Mario Rodas commended Ms. Rossmann. “Ms. Rossmann is a life-long learner who has earned the respect of everyone through her dedication, professionalism, kindness and hard work. She is innovative and passionate about the art of teaching and working with students. She has the ability to build relationships and make connections with students of all ages. We are very fortunate to have her at Center Grove!”

"I was so surprised to receive this award and I am honored to be nominated,” said Ms. Rossmann, who has taught in Randolph for five years. “With all of the wonderful teachers that I work with every day, I am so grateful to be the educator of the year for my school.”

Rossmann, who lives in Morristown, said she just loves her job. “Receiving this award is wonderful, and it means the world to me,” she said. “I put my whole heart into teaching my students and truly appreciate the recognition. I love seeing my students enjoy learning and watching their faces light up when they learn something new and realize their capabilities.

Ms. Rossmann has an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina, a master’s degree in elementary and special education from the College of St. Elizabeth and a reading specialist certification from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Fernbrook fifth grade teacher Chris Kerr looked stunned when administrators entered his classroom on Monday. “Honestly, I am very grateful and humbled after receiving this award,” the Lafayette resident said. “I think that anyone who has ever been given this award at our school would say that any number of other teachers are equally deserving of this recognition. I feel as though the successes that we enjoy are the result of the relationships we share with our colleagues and students.”

Mr. Kerr, who has taught fifth grade at Fernbrook for 14 years, said that he entered the education field because he personally has a love of learning and that teaching at Fernbrook has taught him a lot about himself. He noted that the school’s diversity makes the school a very special place. “I believe that society as a whole would benefit by experiencing the acceptance of cultural diversity fostered at Fernbrook, not only by the staff, but also by the students in their own relationships.”

Mr. Kerr has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Rowan University and a master’s degree in elementary education from Chestnut Hill College.

Fernbrook Principal Michelle Telischak said Fernbrook is fortunate to have Mr. Kerr as a teacher. “Mr. Kerr is an outstanding educator who believes in the importance of educating the whole child and developing high expectations in his classroom. Mr. Kerr has established a remarkable classroom environment in which children feel comfortable working through challenging tasks. His positive attitude and dedication to our Fernbrook students and families is unparalleled. He is devoted to strengthening our school-home connection at Fernbrook to meet the individual needs of our students.”

Ironia Principal David Kricheff praised Ironia educator of the year and fourth grade teacher Tricia Bourke. "Tricia Bourke is truly an inspirational educator,” he said. “Her dedication to professional growth and her students’ success in unparalleled. She has the perfect balance of pedagogy, personality, and grit which creates a transformational educational experience for all of her students.”

When Kricheff congratulated Ms. Bourke as she worked with her class in the school library, she raised her hands to her face in shock. “I am ‘off the charts’ excited and beyond grateful to those who took the time to nominate me,” she said. “I have always been the type to find happiness in the little things, so when something big like this happens, I can barely contain my excitement. Receiving this award is the greatest form of praise a teacher can be given. Knowing that your guidance, support, time, and efforts made an impact on your students is so inspiring and incredibly motivating.”

Ms. Bourke, who is in her 17th year teaching at Ironia, noted that education is her passion. “I am happiest when I am discovering, exploring, and creating with kids. It is a great honor and a huge responsibility to be such a big part of molding young minds. Inspiring the love of learning and watching my kids build confidence in themselves is the best part of the job.”

Ms. Bourke, a resident of Allamuchy, has a bachelor’s degree in education and psychology from Boston College and a master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Shongum fifth grade teacher Joanne Kesten, who co-teaches with Lyn Fromme, was also so surprised that she put her hands to her face in disbelief what Principal Cliff Burns made the announcement to her class during physical education class. “Mrs. Kesten is a skilled, dedicated educator who frequently receives accolades from families regarding the positive influence that she contributes to her students.

 “Along with her co-teacher, Mrs. Kesten creates an ideal classroom environment in which all students are accepted, appreciated, and appropriately challenged. The selection committee was unanimous in selecting her as Shongum’s 2017 educator of the year. I am so proud of Mrs. Kesten and the high caliber work that she provides to the Shongum community.”

“I could hardly believe it,” Mrs. Kesten said afterwards. “I am so honored and certainly humbled to be chosen, given the group of talented and dedicated teachers with whom I work every day. Being a teacher has always been my dream and my goal. I enjoy the opportunity to watch children grow, to watch their minds open, their eyes light up, and the smiles stretch across their faces, as they learn, create, and discover. Working at Shongum School is the icing on the cake. We are a collaborative, supportive, enthusiastic learning community, and we are lucky enough to be supported by administrators who care about us, our work and our students.”

Mrs. Kesten, a resident of Randolph, has a bachelor’s degree in education from Oswego University, a master’s degree in special education from William Paterson University and a master’s degree in teaching and learning from Nova Southeastern University. This is her 23rd year teaching in Randolph.

When RMS Principal Dennis Copeland announced that eighth grade mathematics teacher Christopher Scroggins was the 2017 educator of the year for the middle school, his students cheered and posed with their favorite teacher in a photo. Mr. Scroggins said the award “is a culminating recognition of my career and service” and that receiving the award “is a humbling experience and it is a privilege to be recognized by the district.”

“Teaching is its own reward that keeps me consistently sharp and smiling,” he said, adding that he enjoys teaching because of his 2,100 students and families and long-term collegial relationships with esteemed faculty. Afterwards, Mr. Scroggins also thanked his team 8-4 teachers, former students RHS Vice Principal Mike Sorge and RHS Teacher Andrew Piascik as well as his wife and daughter for their love, support and patience for when he is grading papers.

Mr. Scroggins, a resident of Montville, has taught eighth grade math/Algebra1A for 21 years at the middle school. He has degrees from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

 “Mr. Chris Scroggins made the ultimate sacrifice by serving as a distinguished officer in the United States Army,” Dr. Copeland said. “As a math teacher, he continues to serve with distinction by instilling the tenets of discipline, ethics, and precision to the children in his classes. His passion for mathematics is evident on a daily basis and he never waivers from a challenge. His students share that passion and desire for a challenge.”

When a large group of administrators walked into RHS Spanish teacher Carmela Ferrentino’s classroom and Principal Debbie Iosso announced that she was the high school’s 2017 teacher of the year. Mrs. Ferrentino, a normally vivacious individual, was so surprised that she was speechless.

“I now feel acknowledged for all of the hard work I have done through my 40 years of teaching, 28 of those years in Randolph,” Mrs. Ferrentino later said.  “My students make it all worthwhile. There is nothing greater in the world than to watch them grow academically, emotionally and socially and to know that I was part of their development. I also enjoy working at Randolph High School because of the special relationships that I have established with some of my colleagues and administrators.”

Mrs. Ferrentino, a resident of Randolph, has an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Italian education from Montclair State University as well as a master’s in education. She started her teaching career in Randolph at the middle school before moving to the high school where she teachers Spanish III, Spanish IV Honors and Spanish V.

“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Mrs. Ferrentino on her selection as the newest high school educator of the year,” Mrs. Iosso said. “Mrs. Ferrentino demonstrates on a daily basis the power of creating relationships with our students. She cares about each and every one of them and they know it as soon as they walk in her room. “Ferr” as they affectionately call her has made a significant impact on hundreds of students. Her classroom is not only full of learning –it’s full of fun while they work. This is a well-earned and well-deserved honor!”

Contact: Allison Freeman at or call (973) 361-0808.





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