SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – More than 230 people attended the seventh annual “Taste of Education” fundraiser for the Education Foundation of South Brunswick Township at Pierre’s on Monday night.

“This crowd is amazing,” Board of Education member, and foundation liaison, Barry Nathanson said. “It’s our seventh year, and to see the support from the staff, administrative and the community is unbelievable.”

The event features culinary samples from a variety of restaurants, including Pierre’s Bakery, the Cranbury Inn, Dusals and La Taverna, as well as a silent auction, to raise money for the foundation.

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Proceeds go to help fund foundation grants to teachers and students geared to enhance the learning experience in the township.

According to foundation member Martin Abschutz, the organization contributed more than $50,000 in scholarships and grants to around 100 people since it started.

Those funds are used to fund innovative teaching projects as well as individual student scholarships, according to the organization.

Abschutz said this is the first year that the growing event had more than 230 people attend.

There were a variety of possible reasons so many people attended this year’s event, according to Abschutz, including a reduction in the ticket price from $50-$35 and a change in location to Pierre’s of South Brunswick on George’s Road.

Whatever the reason, attendees had the opportunity to try food from a variety of vendors as well as wines and desserts.

Following the food, the foundation honored Assistant Superintendent Joanne Kerekes for her three decades in education, many of them in South Brunswick.

Each year the foundation recognizes someone who has brought honor and distinction to the district and includes people like Municipal Court Judge Michael Dowgin.

“If I were to attempt to tell you everything she does for our district, we have neither the time or enough wine to fortify ourselves for the length of that report,” Interim Superintendent Dr. Gary McCartney said in honoring Kerekes many years of service. “Joanne is a veritable dynamo. Her work ethic is second to none. She is legendary in her around the clock emails. Her fingerprints are on every curricular and instructional enhancement that has occurred in this district over the last dozen years.”

McCartney said that Kerekes “leads by example” and is a “bastion of integrity.”

“Joanne would never ask anyone to do something that she wouldn’t do herself,” he said. “She genuinely loves her work and everyone she works with. Joanne has created a legacy of distinction.”

During her speech, Kerekes said that she immediately fell in love with her profession the first time she stood in front of her class of third graders in East Windsor.

“For those of you that know me, what beats in this body is the heart and soul of a teacher,” Kerekes said. “I was into the first five minutes of instruction, and I realized that this is what I was meant to do.”

She became emotional speaking about how her late father mentored her and guided her to the teaching profession.

“(I’m) so happy that I decided to spend my career in the company of children,” she said. “I gave a silent ‘thank you’ to the mentors that encouraged me to enter this field. That’s my dad.”

As part of her honor, the foundation announced it would now have a grant for art teachers in her name.

“The grant is such a cool thing,” she said. “I’ve always admired the (Education) Foundation for putting dollars behind grants (to teachers).”

She said the grants are like seeds being planted to see the students flourish and that she can’t wait to see how the seed of her namesake grant will flourish in the future.

“I am excited to see what happens with the grant in my name,” she said. “I could not be more honored.”

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