SPRINGFIELD, NJ – Jonathan Dayton High School’s “Teacher of the Year” is a home town product of Springfield and 2004 graduate of Jonathan Dayton. .
Anthony DeNicolo has been an English teacher at Jonathan Dayton for the past ten years and Drama Director since 2009. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees, a BA in English and a Masters in Theatrical Studies, from Montclair State University. He also has a Teacher’s Certificate and a New Jersey Supervisor’s Certification.
The criteria sonsidered for the "Teacher of the Year" award includes a teacher’s desire for professional growth. Involvement in the community is another factor as is the person’s dedication to the profession. Finally, the teacher is expected to have positive rapport with the students and the partents.
The nomination process assumes nominees meet those criteria and starts with forms being sent to staff and members of the Springfield community. Once the forms are returned, they are reviewed by members of the Administration and past “Teachers of the Year”. The award is given to a teacher at all five schools in the Springfield system.
A former “Teacher of the Year” and Musical Director, Ashely Bauers said of him, “Mr. DeNicolo is a gifted educator whom I had the privilege of working closely with during Cinderella. He has earned the respect and admiration of his students, and I am so happy he has been awarded this distinction!.”
Bauers teaches Music and the Middle School and High School. She also directs the Florence M. Gaudineer Middle School’s winter musical and Jonathan Dayton’s spring musical, which was Cinderella last year.
April’s Student of Month, Samantha Rachel, said, “Mr. DeNicolo is the nicest, most amazing and most creative teacher I have ever had.”
As a senior, Samantha Rachel played Officer Randy Osteen in this year’s drama Superior Donuts. It is a role played on Broadway by Kate Buddeke. An active participant in theater at Dayton, she was also in the productions of The Nerd, Lost in Yonkers, Legally Blonde, and In the Heights.
Senior Lindsey Mauriello said, “He cares deeply about his students. He is very supportive and involve, putting a student’s wellbeing at top priority.” She played Kevin’s girlfriend in Superior Donuts.
She played Kevin’s Girlfriend in Superior Donuts. A veteran of the Dayton stage, Lindsey has been in The Nerd, In the Heights, American Idiot and Legally Blonde. Both Lindsay and Samantha are members of Dayton’s National Honor Society.
Every semester, DeNicolo teaches four classes a day. They include a mix of English 3, Drama, Film & Literature, Creative Writing among others. A fan of Shakespeare, he would enjoy resurrecting a course previously taught at Dayton, “Shakespeare and Society.” He said he would “…like to show the students the relevancy of Shakespeare today.”
Outside of the classroom, DeNicolo is very involved. He directs the fall drama and supervises the Chess Club. This year he was he Producer for Cinderella, which involved budgets, advertising and ticket sales. He noted it was the first time Dayton did online ticket sales for a production.
Last fall’s drama was Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts. It was the school’s 78th production of a fall play and the first event of any kind in the newly renovated auditorium. DeNicolo said he picked the play in part because “…it was relevant today.” Dayton’s first production was “The Night of January 16th” during the 1937-1938 school year.
There were 14 students in the cast and three more in the crew. The set construction and design were done by students, mostly during the school day. They worked on the play since September. The rehearsals were after school and cast members were expected to be able to rehearse without scripts by Halloween.
The 2016 production was “The Nerd”, a comical farce and this year the students wanted something more dramatic. So, they this year chose a show that is considered a comedy but has very dramatic moments.
The actors said Superior Donuts is “…it is the most topical play we have ever done.” One of the things they like about the play it is part drama and part comedy. The funny parts are really genuinely funny and the sad parts are really sad.”
When asked what he thought were the characteristics of the best students, DeNicolo mentioned four. For him, it starts with being able to think critically about literature. Then he expects a student to be an active participant. He also likes a positive attitude. Finally, he encourages them to have a growth mindset. That means believing that the harder they work, the smarter they will become.
Still a Springfield resident, Anthony DeNicolo tries to help the students become their best and says he “…enjoys being in the classroom everyday and working with the students.” He also says he goes to Dayton’s graduation every year and finds it “…very gratifying.”
This year others showed some of their appreciation for Anthony DeNicolo's effort with this award.