WESTFIELD, NJ — Three teachers and one custodian have been recognized by the Westfield High School community for their excellence throughout the year. Recipients of the annual awards were selected based on nominations from students, parents and other WHS staff members.

Brett Curtis, a social studies teacher, was named the PTSO Teacher of the Year Award. The award recognizes a teacher who is encouraging and motivating, is a good role model and shows respect for co-workers, students and parents. Curtis was described by those who nominated him as passionate about history and teaching and an inspiring educator.

Curtis said he is humbled to have been chosen as the recipient of this award, as he said that it is validation that he has the respect of his students and colleagues.

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“The fact that I was nominated by the students means a lot to me, considering they are the reason I am here. Without their hard work and real interest in history, my job would be much more difficult,” he said. “Also, my colleagues choosing me through the nomination process means a lot as well. We have some really great teachers in this building that I respect a lot.”

English and journalism teacher Warren Hynes is the recipient of the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award, established to annually recognize a teacher who, through both excellence in teaching and a demonstrated commitment to intellectual pursuits beyond the classroom, serves as a model and inspiration to the high school community.

Hynes serves as an adviser for the award-winning student-run newspaper Hi’s Eye. He was recently appointed to become one of the school’s assistant principals beginning July 1

Those who nominated Hynes highlighted his willingness to provide assistance to all students and his aid in expanding the minds of his students.

Hynes said that he is inspired to work even harder after winning this award, to serve those that nominated him.

“There are so many incredible teachers at Westfield High, so it is very humbling to receive this award,” he said. “I accept it on behalf of all the teachers who are making an impact on students' lives every day in this building. Those students and staff who nominate teachers for these awards represent the giving spirit of our school, in that they're willing to give of their time to help honor teachers who have made a difference.”

The Above and Beyond award, which was established to recognize a teacher or counselor who has made a difference in the life of a struggling child either socially, emotionally or academically, was given to mathematics teacher Anthony Meyers. Meyers was not only praised for his energy and effective teaching strategies in the classroom, but also for his empathy and kindness.

Meyers said that it is an honor and a privilege to receive the award.

“It's especially meaningful because it came from my students who I see on a daily basis.” He said. “I strive to develop a strong rapport with my students in hopes of encouraging a love of learning.”

The recipient of the Robert L. Foose and Linda J. Foose Memorial Award, named for a former principal and teacher, is custodian Marina Rogel. Rogel was nominated for her “hard work” and the “loving presence” that she provides at school.

According to a group of Westfield High School students, Rogel spends extra time in the cafeteria to talk to them and to get to know them. They said, “she goes above and beyond all of her responsibilities.”

The awardees will be honored by the Westfield Board of Education at a public meeting on Tuesday, June 12 at 7 p.m. in Room 105 at 302 Elm Street.

Kayla Miedrzynski is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.