SPARTA, NJ – Several of Sparta’s teachers were recognized for the excellence in the classroom and beyond on Monday night at the board of education meeting.  Each of the district’s schools’ principals announced their Governor’s Educator Award recipients to the board and the community.

Assistant Superintendent Dr Daniel Johnson began the presentation in Superintendent Dennis Tobin’s absence. Johnson said, “We are so proud of the educators that were honored at the January 25th BOE meeting.  These professionals exemplify the standard of education that is offered to the students throughout the Sparta Schools.  Their hard work, creativity, and selflessness truly defines all that we are looking for in our staff.”

After a few words Johnson introduced Joe Leone, Principal of the Alpine Elementary School. 

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Leone acknowledged both Teacher of the Year Kaitlyn Bird and Educational Services Professional of the Year Christine Aloisio. 

“Miss Bird is an excellent teacher who goes above and beyond for her students,” said Leone. “She has embraced the strategies we have presented in professional development sessions and has quickly become a model teacher.   Earlier in the year she returned from Multi-Sensory Reading Strategies training beaming with excitement and eagerness to put what she learned into practice.   She teaches with this same level of excitement every day.”

Leone said of Aloisio, “Mrs. Aloisio has been an asset to the student, staff, and school community for many years.  Mrs. Aloisio deserves this recognition for all of her hard work and many hours that she spends taking care of our students.  I have a high level of confidence and comfort in the care that she provides for the Alpine Elementary School community.   She is confidential, professional, and always welcoming to nurse our most precious community members.”

Mohawk Avenue School is the educational home for the district’s third grade students.  Principal Laura Trent said, “Miss Stephane Delpome is deserving of this honor as she inspires her students and creates a sense of community and belonging in the classroom. She exhibits characteristics that we all want in a teacher: warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring.”

The fourth and fifth grade students attend Helen Morgan School where Doug Layman is the principal.  Layman spoke with emotion of fourth grade teacher Judy Zoeller. “Mrs. Zoeller is a Lead Learner within the Helen Morgan School community.  She models for her students and colleagues an enthusiasm for learning that encourages those working in and around her classroom to be thoughtful risk-takers and problem solvers.


Mrs. Zoeller's commitment to the students of Sparta serves as an inspiration to her students and colleagues. She is truly deserving of this award.”


Layman shared a story about Zoeller visiting national parks from Maine to Alaska after learning of an initiative to open the parks to students free of charge.  Even on vacation she was thinking of her students, using her experiences to demonstrate various concepts to the children.


The Sparta Middle School principal was unable to attend.  Layman who presented in his place began by explaining Gregory had injured his back, “It was Mike Gregory versus the shovel and the shovel won.”


Layman shared Gregory’s remarks about Margaret Trum, Ancient Civilization Teacher for the sixth grade sapphire team. “Upon entering Mrs. Trum’s classroom you cannot help but feel the excitement in each of her students.  Her classroom is based on both a sense of community and student inquiry.   She instills in her students common values that include respect, collaboration, and teamwork.”

Sparta High School also had two recipients, Governor Teacher of the Year Lara Lovett and Educational Services Professional of the Year Sandy Chiappini.  Principal Janet Ferraro spoke about both staff members.

Ferraro said, “Mrs. Lovett embodies the essence of excellence in teaching. She currently teaches college prep and AP Environmental Science at Sparta High School. Her devotion to her students can be seen in the manner in which she holds students accountable for higher level thinking, yet supports them in the process.  She is a leader within the department, school and state.  Her recent work within the state has provided her the opportunity to shine with the Raritan Valley Science Education Institute as a facilitator for state workshops.

“Mrs. Wilson her supervisor has stated ‘Mrs. Lovett is one hundred percent dedicated to both science education and the science of education.’”

Ferraro went on to discuss Chiappini, “Mrs. Chiappini goes above and beyond in her quest to get the most out of her marketing and Distributive Education Clubs of America or DECA students.  Her efforts as a teacher-leader within the school cross all disciplines.  Mrs. Chiappini has transformed the school store into a collegiate level working environment for our students.  She has welcomed students with a variety of skills and ability levels into both the programs she teachers and the award winning programs she runs.  She excitedly share her expertise in the fields of marketing and business management with her students and colleagues.   


“I am very proud and happy to have the opportunity to work with both of these fine teachers as we prepare the Sparta students for their futures.  They are both model teachers who are to be commended for their dedication to our profession.”


Johnson explained Tobin had been held over in Detroit and was unable to make it back in time for the meeting.  In an interview Tobin said, “The individuals recognized at our January 25th BOE meeting are fine examples of the outstanding staff we have in the Sparta School District.  On behalf of our entire school community I would like to thank them for their outstanding service and dedication to the students of Sparta and wish then continued success in the classroom.”

The selection process for these honors begin with a letter from the building principals soliciting nominations from the parents in the school community.  Once the nominations have been received, “a committee of four members that includes an administrators, teachers, parents and local education association members” or the School Improvement Panel scores the nominees and selects the highest scoring educator is chosen, according to the New Jersey Department of Education.