Watchung Hills Students Wasserman and Wong Awarded WHREA Scholarship for Future Educators

Seniors Susan Wong, left, and Lauren Wasserman, right, are congratulated by WHREA (Watchung Hills Regional Education Association) President and Social Studies Teacher Kenneth Karnas

WARREN, NJ - Future educators Lauren Wasserman and Susan Wong, who were selected as the recipients of the 2017 Watchung Hills Regional Education Association (WHREA) Scholarship for Future Educators.  

“The WHREA is proud to honor Wasserman and Wong for their academic achievement and commitment to community,” said WHREA President Kenneth Karnas. “Both girls are energetic and enthusiastic as students and they both have a wonderful record of teaching and helping others.  Wasserman and Wong have many fine qualities that will aid in their pursuit of becoming teachers someday.”      

According to Karnas, the association has granted close to $20,000 to future educators in the last eleven years.  The scholarship is funded by members through an annual WHREA event.  The WHREA has always been supportive of students who choose to pursue education as a career.

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“In today’s political climate, the field of education has been focused on emphasizing high stakes testing and competition,” Karnas said.  “While there are benefits to these, they must not distract from or diminish the things that are truly important within the profession of education.  Education works best when educators, students, and communities collaborate with and support one another in our path towards achievement.”  

The WHREA strives to encourage this atmosphere of support and collaboration by raising money to provide scholarships for future educators.  As educators, members of the association are aware of the challenges that future educators will face and are happy about helping students achieve their goals.

Lauren Wasserman

When Lauren Wasserman enters her freshman year at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) this fall as an elementary and special education major, she’ll be fulfilling a dream that’s been part of her life since elementary school.  Early on, she knew she wanted to be a teacher and throughout her elementary and middle school years, Wasserman would often “play teacher” while attempting to help her friends with school work.  

“I have always had an interest in helping others and making a difference in peoples’ lives, as teachers do every day,” Wasserman said.  “But since I entered Watchung Hills, I realized I could use my passion to guide and support others on a larger scale.  Pursing a degree in education at TCNJ will allow me to complete that mission.”  

Wasserman genuinely believes that WHRHS has provided her with a “strong foundation” that will serve her well throughout her college career.  At our school, Wasserman continues to demonstrate that she is a well-rounded student and an engaged school citizen.  Academically, she has always done well across the curriculum but she has mostly enjoyed her experience working with the Child Development Program.  During her four years, Wasserman has completed all of the available credits within the program, eventually rising to the position of senior manager.  

In that role, she has played a key part in assisting instructor Julie Jaran in the day-to-day operations and instructional decisions.  Her duties included overseeing the student teaching teams, providing lesson plan guidance, organizing and heading the preschool graduation program along with dedicating many outside hours to working with preschool operation each week.  

For Wasserman, these unique opportunities have proven critical to her growth during high school.  It is this experience that will allow her to hit the ground running next year in college.  

“The support I’ve received through the years gives me confidence as a future educator,” Wasserman said.  “I believe a career in education can be rewarding and enriching and I hope to help students reach their full potential.”  

Susan Wong  

Susan Wong will attend Case Western Reserve University in Ohio next year as an education and psychology major.  At WHRHS, Wong has been an outstanding student completing some of the most rigorous courses available in the curriculum.  Throughout her academic career, only three times has she earned a grade lower than an “A” in her classes.  

Besides shining inside the classroom, Wong has made meaningful contributions with several school organizations.  According to Wong, “being involved with Track and Field, the INTERACT club, Peer Leaders and the GLC has been enjoyable, enriching and purposeful,” Wong said.  “These interactions have helped me foster incredible bonds with my peers, teammates and those I’ve served in the community.”

An important part of community service for Wong has been her experience as a volunteer at the Murray Hill Chinese School.  Helping as a teacher assistant at the school has further validated Wong’s goal of someday working in the field of education.  

“Every Saturday, I soothe and comfort students who are struggling to learn the new language and help them catch up when they are falling behind.  I develop their trust by actively engaging in conversations and asking questions,” Wong added.  

With those younger students, Wong is a role model.  Additionally, Wong’s connection to an older generation has also provided her with the motivation to someday become a teacher and the biggest influence has been her own family.  Both her grandparents and parents are immigrants.  They have often struggled with the English language and grasping the unique components of Western culture.  Early on, Wong has always helped by being the translator in the family, the one who explained many of the unfamiliar American customs to elder family members.  

Just like her work with the younger students at the Chinese school, those family interactions have been most influential in steering Wong along the path to become a future educator.  

“Every interaction has the powerful effect of making a difference for both the teacher and the student.  They help us to learn and understand each other,” Wong said.  “Working in education is the first step to giving back to my family and thriving community.

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