(Editor's Note: Katelyn Borsos is a senior at South Plainfield High School and an intern with TAPinto South Plainfield.)
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The 2016-2017 school year marks Diana Joffe’s 40th year both in education and as a teacher with the South Plainfield School District.
Joffe began her career at South Plainfield High School (SPHS) in 1977 teaching math and foreign language. A year later, she went on to work at the district’s Kennedy and Riley Elementary schools and, in 1980, returned to SPHS. She has been there ever since and, over the past 40 years, has taught everything from math to foreign language. Currently, Joffe teaches algebra, geometry, Spanish 1 and 2 and, since 2006, has served as president of the South Plainfield Education Association (SPEA). Through her role with the teacher’s union, Joffe serves as a mediator between district administrators and teachers and is an advocate for teacher’s rights.
Joffe grew up in the Bronx and attended the School of Performing Arts with intentions of becoming an actress. When her family relocated to New Jersey, Joffe went on to graduate from North Bergen High School and, during her time there, participated in an independent study working with handicapped children. Loving the experience, Joffe went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in special education, along with certifications in both elementary general education (K-8) and high school special education (K-12), from Rutgers University’s School of Education
It was during her senior year at Rutgers, while with her then boyfriend at a band practice, that Joffe visited South Plainfield for the first time. She grew to love the family-oriented environment and has been teaching in the borough ever since.
“I practically grew up in South Plainfield from working here since I was a young adult,” said Joffe. “I made some of the most valuable relationships and formed lasting friendships.”
As an educator, Joffe said that, each day, she looks forward to greeting students in the halls and encouraging them to do succeed.
“I love watching students understand the concepts taught. When they feel like they understand the concept, it is nice to know I had a small part in it,” Joffe said, adding that teaching is not easy and consists of a lot of hard work with each day a ‘new adventure.’
“I still love what I do and I don’t consider it a job,” she said, adding that the toughest thing about teaching is getting those students who have difficulty grasping concepts to understand. Through her role as president of the teacher’s union, Joffe also said strives to help the community to understand that teachers work for their pay.
Joffe credits her husband Anthony Massaro for being an inspiration to her. “He taught me everything I know about working in the Teacher’s Association and truly is an inspiration.” Joffe said of Massaro, himself a former teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and past president of SPEA.
Joffe also credits her aunt Libby Kessler as an important role model in her educational career. A reading specialist, Joffe said it was Kessler’s respect for children and the impact she had as a teacher that impacted her most.
“Do it because you love to teach and because you respect children,” advises Joffe to those interested in pursuing a career in education. “Don’t be an educator because you want summers off or to get out early.”
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