SAYREVILLE - Alyse Lerner opened her email app and navigated to her inbox as she would on any other day.
While scrolling through the unread notifications, the aspiring elementary school teacher came across a surprising and exciting email offering her congratulations for being selected as one of nine 2020-21 New Jersey Future Educators Association (NJFEA) ambassadors.
“I didn't expect it. I just applied to see if I would get it because that's what I want to be: I want to be a teacher,” said Lerner, a senior at Sayreville War Memorial High School (SWMHS). “I just wanted to get as involved as I could be for my future, so I thought that'd be a great opportunity. Then, I actually got chosen, and I thought that was so cool.”
While this year the selected applicant pool expanded from six to nine students for the program being run through The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing, only three of those nine students were from Central Jersey, Lerner said.
Lerner is the first and only student in SWMHS history to be accepted to the exclusive program, said Mary Charmello, one of Sayreville’s Tomorrow’s Teachers instructors.
“They read my application and thought out of all those people, I was one of the most qualified,” Lerner said.
She applied last year, meeting the necessary requirements for the position by being a high school student with a GPA over a 3.0, taking the Tomorrow’s Teachers course and being recommended by an instructor.
In the course, the students typically have the chance to visit schools of younger-aged students and observe while helping teach classes alongside experienced educators in the community, Lerner said.
As an NJFEA ambassador, she will serve as a board member for the Center of Future Educators (CFE) advisory board until July by participating in upcoming conferences and other events, on Zoom to help shape CFE's future programming and develop leadership skills, Charmello said.
“Since the beginning of the school year, Alyse has shown tremendous passion for the education field,” Charmello said. “She enrolled in a course through Rider University and has expressed interest in becoming an elementary school teacher. Alyse is very excited for this opportunity as it helps her to continue to learn more about the field.”
Serving on the CFE board is putting Lerner yet another step in the right direction. She will be continuing her education at TCNJ this fall to pursue her goals for a career in early education.
“I just want to get as involved as much as I can. Many in my family are in the education field, so ever since I was little, I was around that,” Lerner said. “I would always play teacher … and then as I got older, I'm in Tomorrow's Teachers now at my high school.
"I just love little kids, and I like working with them. I think it's a rewarding job to have such an impact on other people.”