WAYNE, NJ – The Wayne Board of Education celebrated this year’s top educators with a presentation honoring a teacher and service professional from each of Wayne’s fourteen schools. This article features the educators from Packanack, Pines Lake, Randall Carter, Ryerson and Theunis Dey Elementary schools.

This is the second in a series of three articles recognizing Wayne's Top Educators.  

RELATED: Wayne BOE Celebrates School Educators of the Year – Early Childhood and Elementary

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A total of 30 educators were recognized by Assistant Superintendent, Donna Reichman during a presentation at the last BOE meeting. In recognizing the teachers, Mrs. Reichman said, “Congratulations to all of our winners for their commitment and dedication to our students and the Wayne school community. Each day you inspire our students with your innovative practices, kindness and care. The outstanding work you do to support our students teaches them some of the most important lessons in life and helps shape their future.”

The Governor’s Educator of the Year program recognizes both outstanding teachers and outstanding educational services professionals such as guidance counselors, nurses, speech language specialists and more.

“After school level nominations were received, each of the Wayne Township Public Schools convened a committee to select one teacher and one educational services professional under the program guidelines,” read a statement from the district.  “In the coming months, each of the educators selected locally may move on for recognition at the county, and potentially as candidates for state educator of the year.”

In 2019, Wayne Valley High School technology teacher, Patrick Slater won the Passaic County teacher of the year award. Perhaps one of these educators can follow suit.

The following are excerpts from the bios of each winner found on the Wayne Schools website.

Packanack Elementary School

Jenna Furfaro, First Grade Teacher

Jenna Furfaro loves being a teacher because she loves her students. She loves forming connections with each child and helping them become confident readers and writers. She enjoys watching her students laugh, and make memories in first grade! Jenna feels proud to be a teacher in the Wayne Township Public School District. She grew up in town and attended Wayne schools herself. She began her career at Lafayette School, the elementary school she attended as a child. Many of her former teachers were still working and became mentors for her. As a new teacher, it was a special experience to learn and grow as an educator in a place that was so familiar.

Dana DiMenna, Basic Skills Teacher

Dana DiMenna loves inspiring children to develop a love of learning. She feels that the most rewarding part of teaching is to have an impact on each child's character, education, and their self-confidence. When children believe in themselves and their abilities, it is incredible what they are able to learn and do. Dana loves providing small group intervention to students in need, and watching the pride on her student's faces as gaps close and concepts click.

Pines Lake Elementary

Maryann Carroll, Second Grade Teacher

Maryann Carroll truly loves being a teacher. She believes that being a teacher is one of the most rewarding careers. Mrs. Carroll feels teaching is much more than a job. She feels it’s a calling that she was born to fulfill. She loves how she can have a huge impact on a child’s life and can see a child progress and grow. It is something that brings great joy to her. As a teacher, she believes she can positively influence a child’s way of thinking. She feels she can help students build self-esteem and believe in themselves and their ability to learn, no matter their background or abilities.

Catherine Fredericks, Speech and Language Specialist

Mrs. Fredericks is a Speech/Language Pathologist at Pines Lake School who has devoted her career to serving students with significant disabilities and communication challenges. She has developed a unique specialization in the implementation of Augmentative and Alternative communication (AAC) technologies and serves on various New Jersey committees focused on expansion of AAC within the State. As a Specialist in Augmentative and Alternative communication, she also serves on the Board of Directors for NJCART (New Jersey Coalition for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology). Mrs. Fredericks has been instrumental in bringing Communication Technology to students throughout the Wayne school district. She is an advocate for Wayne students, particularly those with complex communication challenges. During the past 23 years serving as a Speech/Language Specialist in Wayne, Mrs. Fredericks has been instrumental in increasing awareness and use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication at Pines Lake School and throughout the entire Wayne School District. She is currently working with the Wayne Parks and Recreation director to create a communication board for the recently opened handicapped Accessible playground in Wayne. Mrs. Fredericks is honored to be part of the Wayne community, and looks forward to continuing to advocate for students with complex communication challenges at Pines Lake School!

Randall Carter Elementary School

Alexis Scheck, Fifth Grade Teacher

Mrs. Scheck loves being a teacher because she feels like she is making a difference in the lives of her students. She genuinely loves that 'aha' moment when the skill being taught “clicks” for a student. She loves interacting with her students and exchanging knowledge as well as exposing them to new perspectives. She is most grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by outstanding colleagues. Her co-workers at Randall Carter have always been inspiring, supportive, and open in sharing information and ideas. Working with a team to enrich student learning is energizing and rewarding as a professional.

Kimberly Depetris, School Nurse

Kim Depetris was raised with several nurses in her family and has always been interested in medicine. She always enjoyed working with children. She found working at a Children’s Hospital was the perfect way to join the two. After taking some time off to be with her children, she was interested in a new nursing career that included working with children but not returning to the hospital. After speaking to the school nurse at her children’s school, she decided to try substituting as a school nurse. There, she found just what she was looking for, a chance to work with children, support them throughout the school day, and to continue to practice nursing. She enjoyed school nursing so much, she went back to school to get her School Nurse Certification. Working at her own school, she has found a very satisfying career. Kim really enjoys the variety of working with children from kindergarteners who barely know their last name to 5th graders who are more than ready to move on to middle school. School nursing means always being ready for anything - from a stuck zipper, a forgotten snack, or a bandaid, to more serious medical issues and an occasional ambulance call. Then there is the emotional support. This can also be anything from simple tears to crisis situations. Getting to know children and their families over several years, gives the school nurse the chance to see them through the good and bad times and watch the children grow into those 5th graders who have matured into amazing young people ready for the next phase of their lives.

Ryerson Elementary School

Laurie Collins, Special Education Teacher

Mrs. Collins loves teaching, connecting and learning from all the inspiring students with whom she has the pleasure of working. She loves seeing her students learn new skills and become more independent. She is grateful to have a job that constantly reminds her to celebrate all the small things that lead to big successes. She has gratitude for a practice and craft that teaches her to focus on the positive and know that we all are capable of learning, growing and accomplishing great achievements when we are well supported. She is so very thankful for her students who always share new perspectives and remind her daily of the unique and special ways each of us impacts the world.

Catherine Sanders, Paraprofessional

Katie Sander’s favorite thing about working as an education paraprofessional is helping children to learn and grow. After years of working in the corporate sector, she was ready for something new. She applied for a position as a paraprofessional in her home school district. Katie was lucky enough to be assigned to work one-on-one with a special needs student, and then as a transitional para for several students transitioning to sixth grade at the middle school level. Katie enjoyed working as a paraprofessional and was pleased when she was offered a position at Ryerson Elementary as an ABA para for two years before becoming a classroom para in a step-up kindergarten class. For the past four years Katie has been fortunate enough to work with Mrs. J-Lamptey, where she has enjoyed helping the students learn through new techniques such as Fundations and enVision. To see children begin the year barely able to write their names, and end the year writing and reading sentences is hugely rewarding for her. She loves experiencing those big leaps in independence and academic skills that so are critical to their continued academic success. Katie feels it is a privilege to be a part of building students’ foundations for future learning.

Theunis Dey Elementary School

Lauren Pici-Mahmudi, Third Grade Teacher

Ms. Pici-Mahmudi loves providing a safe space for students to explore and construct new ideas, take risks, and work through challenges. It has been very rewarding for her to see students form connections through inquiry experiences in lessons and find excitement and passion for new topics. Each school year, Ms. Pici-Mahmudi is excited to share in the joys of reading and storytelling with her students; she values all that she learns from them and their stories. Ms. Pici-Mahmudi also loves teaching students that they have the power to have a positive impact on our society, even at such a young age, through writing and social action.

Keri DelloBuono, Library Media Specialist

As an educational media specialist, Mrs. DelloBuono loves working with the entire school community and introducing new technologies to students and staff which helps promote student learning. Collaborating with her colleagues inspires her to be creative and innovative which results in positive experiences for herself and her students. She loves working as an educational media specialist because she is able to incorporate her love of literature and technology and engage students to be lifelong readers and problem solvers. She loves seeing her students grow as readers and learners from Kindergarten through Grade 5 and they truly motivate her to continue to improve her craft.


The next article will feature winners from three Wayne middle schools and high schools.