Education

Optimist Club of Westfield Names 2017 Outstanding Intermediate School Teachers

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Music teacher James Doyle has been named the Optimist Club of Westfield’s Intermediate Teacher of the Year representing Roosevelt. Credits: Westfield Public Schools
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Special Education teacher Cecilia Valdes-Dalton has been selected as the Optimist Club of Westfield’s Intermediate Teacher of the Year representing Edison Intermediate School. Credits: Westfield Public Schools
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WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield Public School teachers James Doyle and Cecilia Valdes-Dalton have been named Outstanding Intermediate School Teachers for 2017 by the Optimist Club of Westfield, the district announced Monday.

Doyle and Valdes-Dalton are the recipients of the 20th annual Optimist award, established in 1998 to recognize the importance of teaching in the intermediate grades. The award is presented annually to two Westfield teachers — one each from Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools.

“I am beyond honored to receive this recognition, especially considering the many dedicated and talented teachers I work with,” Doyle said. “I will continue working every day to become a better teacher.”

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Doyle has taught concert band at Roosevelt Intermediate School for more than seven years. He leads the Roosevelt jazz program, which meets before school three days a week, and he co-leads the Afternoon Ramble — a rock and roll club that meets once a week after school. 

A former mentor for the Teddy Roosevelt Scholar program, Doyle is currently a member of the school’s Sunshine Committee, Leadership Committee and the Intervention and Referral Services team.

Doyle holds two degrees from Montclair State University —  a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and a Master’s in Education Leadership.  He  is a member of the New Jersey Music Educators Association and the Central Jersey Music Educators Association. 

“Mr. Doyle is a very good teacher who has made me learn so much about my instrument but in a non-pushy way,” a letter of nomination from a student reads. “He has changed my life and my life as a musician.”

A Roosevelt parent added, “Mr. Doyle brings enthusiasm, integrity and energy to his classrooms. Best of all, he is a great role model for middle school students.”

Valdes-Dalton is a special education teacher, now is in her 11th year at Edison Intermediate School in Westfield, where she also has taught seventh grade replacement math. She is co-advisor for Edison’s chapter of Girls Learn International, developing awareness for equal education for girls, especially in third world countries. She also serves as on the Intervention and Referral Services team as well as the school’s Safety and Leadership teams.

Valdes-Dalton holds a Bachelor of Art degree from Pace University in Political Science and a Master degree in Cross Categorical Special Education from the University of Phoenix. She is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, the Association of Math Teachers of NJ, and the National Association of Special Education Teachers.

“She selflessly gives her time outside of the scheduled class to give students extra help, both with organization and academic support,” a colleague wrote of Valdes-Dalton.

Colleagues expressed appreciation for the mentoring she has generously provided.

“As first-year teachers at Edison Intermediate School four years ago, Cecilia made our experiences exponentially more successful,” one person wrote.

“It is truly an honor to receive this recognition,” Valdes-Dalton said. “I am grateful every day to go to work doing something I absolutely love. On a daily basis, I am surrounded by teachers, administrators and students that inspire me to not only become a better teacher, but a better person. I only hope that I am able to provide them with a fraction of the inspiration they give to me.”

Doyle and Valdes-Dalton will be honored by the Westfield Board of Education on Tuesday, June 13, at its meeting at 7 p.m. in room 105 at 302 Elm St. The Optimist Club of Westfield will also honor them at a dinner later in the year. 

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