WESTFIELD, NJ — If you have a favorite Westfield elementary school teacher deserving of praise, here’s an opportunity to offer it.

The Westfield Rotary Club is accepting nominations for the 28th annual Charles Philhower Fellowship award recognizing “an outstanding full-time elementary teacher in the Westfield Public Schools,” the club’s president, Liz Ensslin, announced this week.

The Rotary Club is inviting letters of nomination from interested citizens, parents, students and Westfield Public School staff members, Ensslin said in a release.

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Letters should be emailed to rotaryphilhower@westfieldnjk12.org or addressed to Charles Philhower Fellowship Committee of the Westfield Rotary Club, c/o Office of the Superintendent of Schools, 302 Elm Street, Westfield, NJ 07090.

The deadline to submit is Friday, April 3, the release said.

Nominations should specify ways in which the teacher has demonstrated outstanding teaching, interest in children and continued pursuit of professional growth, Ensslin said.  The teacher must be a full-time faculty member in grades K — 5 in the Westfield Public Schools for a minimum of five years, she said.

The Fellowship recipient will be honored at a Rotary luncheon and at a Westfield Board of Education meeting, both scheduled for May 5, and will receive a Rotary grant to further professional growth or to enhance classroom activities for students.

The award was instituted in 1993 by the Rotary Club of Westfield to recognize the importance of teaching in the elementary grades and to honor Westfield Rotarian and School Superintendent Charles Philhower. 

Mr. Philhower, who died in 1962, was Supervising Principal (Superintendent) of Westfield Public Schools for 30 years from 1917 to 1947 and President of the Westfield Rotary Club in 1929-30.  As Rotary President, he instituted the club’s annual scholarship awards to graduating Westfield students.

Last year, fourth grade Jefferson School teacher Anna Carissimo earned the award. Previous winners include first-grade Tamaques School teacher Mary Montes in 2018; third-grade Franklin School teacher Penny O’Donnell in 2017; McKinley School language arts teacher Susanne Bonhote in 2016; and fifth-grade Jefferson School teacher Kareem Thompson in 2015.

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