SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the South Plainfield Board of Education’s (SPBOE) Oct. 16 Regular Public Meeting in support of 14 district teachers who recently earned tenure. In addition to being presented with certificates and congratulated by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak and members of the SPBOE, each of the recipients was recognized by their building principal.

Dr. Robert Goman, principal of Roosevelt Elementary, presented a tenure certificate to Susan McCabe, librarian, and Stephanie Rizk, kindergarten teacher; also receiving tenure but not present at the meeting were G&T teacher Leslie Martinez and ESL teacher Dayse Vieira.

“[Mrs.] Rizk has truly developed a reputation with our staff and administration as someone we can count on in all situations…for the short time I have been at Roosevelt, I am pretty sure Mrs. Rizk has volunteered for every committee and any opportunity I have put out to the staff…One of her major strengths is being proactive… [and she] is always willing to lend a hand,” said Goman.

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McCabe, said the principal, provides lessons that not only increase student learning but ‘are essential for the success of the ELA program’ and has ‘taken initiative to explain [the school’s] reading incentive program to encourages our students to read for pleasure at home.’ “Mrs. McCabe is a teacher who shows great compassion for her students and provides them with a learning environment where they feel safe and supported. [She] is a team player…” said Goman. “Overall, Mrs. McCabe is a dedicated professional who goes above and beyond...and we are very lucky to have her.”

According to Goman, Vieira has the ‘unique ability to provide specific targeted accommodations’ for all her students and is ‘dedicated to making sure students are scheduled appropriately within the school day and is always willing to assist her colleagues to ensure that all her students’ needs are being met in the classroom.’ Martinez, said the principal, ‘is a dedicated professional who makes sure all her students are challenged to think outside the box’ and stated that, in her time with the district, has established a ‘clear path of criteria to be part of the G&T program…[and] nurtures all of her students to reach their personal best and maintains high expectations for each…’

Patrick Sarullo, principal of Grant School, presented tenure certificates to six educators, including math teachers Nicole Kitchell and Susan Eichert, language arts teacher Nicole Wieczorek, social studies teacher Steven Wieczorek, and special education teachers Michelle Hollander and Chelsea Hunt.

According to Sarullo, colleagues said Kitchell’s ‘input compliments the vision of the sixth grade math team’ who has provided ‘invaluable’ contributions and is a ‘team player who is always willing to go extra mile.’ Sarullo described Kitchell as having ‘the unique ability to connect with all students’ and stated that she ‘relates the content to real life and is quick to share stories that help the make personal connections.’

Colleagues, said Sarullo, describe Hunt as one of the ‘most hardworking and supportive teachers’ who is ‘optimistic and always tries to engage and enhance her students’ learning.’ According to the principal, Hunt’s ‘flexibility and dependability’ define her and she has the ‘ability to teach any subject to anyone.’

Hollander’s ‘special education expertise, said her coworkers,  adds insight and value’ and she ‘works tirelessly to ensure she is reaching and maintaining the needs of her students.’ According to Sarullo, [Hollander] is ‘one the most creative teachers’ he has ever met and she ‘has become a great resource to Grant School…”

Colleagues describe math teacher Steven Wieczorek as ‘extremely helpful in every aspect of the class,’ ‘easy to communicate with,’ and someone who ’goes above and beyond’ while his wife, Nicole, who was called to read what she had to say about him, describes him as someone who ‘constantly researches and learns about new methods and strategies related to his teaching craft.’

“As a result, he is a motivational force to everyone else around him. When he shares his ideas with a co-teacher, other staff member, or administrator he is met with excitement, interest and gratitude…He is that teacher who makes you feel like you have to keep up with him because he is always bringing something new to the Grant School students and staff,” said Nicole Wieczorek, adding, “…He cares about the student as a child first, always making sure to ask about their interests and hobbies…Steven’s natural humor and warm conversational spirit raise staff morale and is always sure to put a smile on someone’s face during a stressful day.”

Nicole Wieczorek’s description of Steven, said Sarullo, is a ‘testament’ of how ‘dynamic she is in every word she writes.’ Her husband describes her as a ‘diligent worker who spends countless hours researching, preparing, and creating her lessons’ and her colleagues state she is a ‘hard worker who is always there for her peers…[who] puts her students first…[and who brings] forth tremendous effort to make sure that she develops challenging and interesting lessons to ensure success for all of her students.’

“… Mrs. Wieczorek has a gift and the South Plainfield School District was given a gift when she decided to be a teacher in her hometown,” said Sarullo.

According to colleagues, math teacher Eichert ‘exemplifies the best model of teaching and work ethic throughout the school day,’ someone ‘who puts the students first, ‘a team player’ who ‘goes above and beyond’ and some one who plays ‘an integral part in the education’ of Grant students. Eichert, said Sarullo getting a bit emotional, ‘defines hard work’ and is a ‘leader in everyway.’

“[She] makes everyone in the building, including myself, better,” said the principal. “Thank you for trying new things, thank you for leading our teachers…thank you for changing this school…and, most importantly, thank you for everything you do for our students everyday.’

At South Plainfield Middle School (SPMS), special education teacher Kimberly Falkenstein and science teacher Brianna Wagner were presented tenure certificates. “They are both two tremendous teachers for the middle school…Both Ms. Wagner and Ms. Falkenstein are a great asset to the South Plainfield School District and the middle school," said Principal Leo Whalen.

Two South Plainfield High School teachers, Lori Parisi and Laura Sosna, also received tenure certificates presented to them by Principal Robert Diehl.

Parisi’s title as a librarian/media specialist, said Diehl, ‘doesn’t do her justice’ and he describes her as a ‘quarterback, a captain, a coordinator, a facilitator, a scheduler, a resource, a technology technician, decorator and director.’ [Parisi] is a wonderful teacher…I have never seen the library as vibrant and exciting as it has been and a lot of that credit goes to Lori…” said Diehl, adding, “[She] has a quality where she can combine the seriousness of getting the instruction done with a very pleasant and friendly manner. There is a wonderful feeling in this classroom at anytime.”

According to Diehl, Sosna, a French teacher, is ‘all in.’ “If I was a student in South Plainfield and I had Madame Sosna for a couple of years, I would learn a lot of French. Laura is a great French teacher, a great World Language teacher,” said Diehl, adding, “When you go into Laura’s classroom you see a lot of learning going on…She’s very proud of her classroom, there’s an ownership…Her classroom is decorated with drawings, prints, and painting, and words…[and] she is respected and liked and able to teach her students great thing.”

After receiving their tenure certificates, each recipient was congratulated by SPBOE with several offering public congratulations during the board member comment portion of the meeting.

“I want to congratulate all the teachers who received tenure tonight,” said Vice President Tom Cassio. “…If, in four years, they made an impression on [their building principals] that is fantastic. Kudos to them.”

Member John Farinella said, “I am pleased that we are celebrating our teachers and that our principals came out... That doesn’t happen everywhere and I think it is important. It provides incentives for folks to really do their best and be the best they can be…”

“It is great to see some of our own homegrown kids coming back and taking these jobs. I think it is fantastic and a testament to what we do here,” said member Jim Giannakis.

“Congratulations to our tenured teachers,” said member Debbie Boyle. “[It is] well deserved for their outstanding accomplishments.” 

“One of the cool things is you sit here and watch the teachers get the tenure [and notice] the young age of these teachers…” said SPBOE President Doug Chapman, extending congratulations. “They do a fantastic job…Things are going great in the district and we are really set up for a good run here in the district [and] that is very exciting to see.”

Additionally, during the meeting, Gina Capizola, a special education teacher at the middle school who retired in October 2018, was also recognized. “We want to congratulate her and wish her well in her retirement,” said Lishak.

“Congratulations to Gina Capizola on her retirement,” said board member Sharon Miller. “I hope she has a happy healthy one and she enjoys every minute of it.”

South Plainfield Board of Education meetings can be viewed online at http://www.spboe.org/board_of_education/board_meeting_videos. The next Committee of the Whole meeting will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 13 with the Regular Public Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 20. All meetings take place in the high school information center, beginning at 6:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. 

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