WAYNE, NJ –Wayne’s Governor’s Educator of the Year Award winners were announced at last week Board of Education meeting, and from the twenty-eight winners, three decided to try for the Passaic County Teacher of the Year Award.
The process isn’t easy. Assistant Superintendent of the Wayne School District, Donna Reichman, laid out what was needed: “Each candidate was required to complete and submit a very comprehensive application, which included many essays that would detail their professional background, teaching style, exemplary lessons and leadership vision.”
At the BOE meeting, held in the Council Chambers, Reichman was all smiles at the podium in front of the huge crowd of teachers, staff and family. She said: “I had the opportunity to read and review each submission. You are truly all winners and I’m glad you’ve taken the time to be considered for this honor. It’s amazing the amount of time that was taken by these individuals, and it was very enlightening to read about all of their wonderful contributions.”
Reichman then introduced the three candidates individually and pulled quotes from these teacher’s essays to describe each one.
The first was Britany Agrasti, a Kindergarten teacher at Lafayette Elementary School. Agrati has been in education for fifteen years, and thirteen years in Wayne Public Schools.
“You serve as the first point of contact in public education for students each year,” said Reichman. “Your essay evidenced your commitment to these learners from the very first day of to mold them into citizens who contribute to the wellbeing of our school and community.”
Reichman finished with: “Thank you for building the foundation for so many of our kindergarten students.”
The second candidate was Erika Sherger the AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 teacher at Wayne Hills High School. She has been in education for eighteen years and nine years in Wayne.
Reichman announced: “Erika describes science as a form of art that, when successful, stirs something inside of us a student to stoke their natural curiosity.”
Sherger’s classroom was described as a constant conversation about the laws of the universe and Reichman talked of the Physics teacher’s ability to connect with students and inspire a curiosity and love of learning of the sciences.
“Last year, one of her students was one of two in the entire world to earn a perfect score on the AP Physics 2 Exam,” said Reichman with great pride. “I am sure that your outstanding instruction, and scientific expertise and commitment to teaching had something to do with the success that student was able to achieve.”
The final of the three candidates recognized was Dr. Jeffrey White, an English teacher at Wayne Valley High School, who has been in education for twenty-three years and nineteen years in Wayne.
On the Wayne Schools website, Dr. White shares this quote from William Wordsorth: “What we have loved, others will love, and we will teach them how; instruct them how the mind of man becomes a thousand times more beautiful than the earth on which he dwells..”
White comments on the quote, saying: “ A romantic conviction, no doubt. And one that I hold to closely. As an English teacher, I work to continue this chain, this passing on to the future the best that has been thought and expressed. That's what I love most.”
At the BOE meeting Reichman had this to say about White: “You share your love of literature and you give the opportunity for students to experience great works through your eyes. You keep your students motivated to read critically and unpack the meaning of novels. Thank you for inspiring our students to read and for always pushing for new titles to enhance our curriculum.”
The three candidates have submitted their applications and essays to the County along with many others from all the other school districts in Passaic County, and the wait has begun.
It will be a long wait. Last year Wayne Valley High School Technology teacher, Patrick Slater was announced as the Passaic County Teacher of the Year in August.