CongRATulations to the Following Teachers!


    School Nurse
    Forked River Elementary School

    Today, we’re honoring Kelly Villardi, the school nurse at Forked River Elementary School.  Is it a sniffle or another case of COVID?  Seriously, the job of a school nurse the past two years has been one of the hardest jobs in education.  We’re proud to honor Mrs. Villardi.

    She’s constantly staying up with the latest information to keep students and staff safe.  Health updates have come at a dizzying pace, but Mrs Villardi has “bed side or rather hall and classroom side” manner that makes all the kids feel safe and welcome no matter what.

    Kelly has an ability to make a student feel cared for whether they walk in after taking a basketball to the nose or with a simple paper cut on their finger.  She also works closely with the counselor when some students need a little extra assistance under the mental health umbrella. She is a true team player.

    And Today’ we’re taking a moment to honor Kelly Villardi of Forked River Elementary School as a Teacher Who Rocks.


    Teacher of Special Education
    Manchester Township Elementary School

    Today, we’re honoring Gretchen Freund, Teacher of Special Education at Manchester Township Elementary School in Manchester.  Gretchen brings excitement and enthusiasm to her students, their families and district staff every day.

    Mrs Freund has kickstarted great things for students… like a daily webcasting and TV show called BROADCAST NEWS where students celebrate classroom achievements and projects – even birthdays..  Or the EXERCISE YOUR MIND WITH READING challenge.  Or the many programs that involve direct involvement with the Manchester community.

    As if there’s time:  Gretchen is on numerous school committees: Curriculum, School Safety and Climate, Attendance, School Professional Development committees to name a few.

    That’s why we’re honoring Gretchen Freund of Manchester Township Elementary School as a Teacher Who Rocks!


    Math Teacher
    Jackson Memorial High School

    Today, we’re honoring Lisa Soltmann, a math teacher at Jackson Memorial High School.  Lisa is a team player and she treats each child as a masterpiece of art.

    Mrs. Soltmann is a STEM adviser and finds paid internships for juniors and seniors. She chairs the school sunshine club. And spends so much time at school one would think she live there.

    She has been a coach, an advisor, a mentor, and a listener.  As a former Teacher of the Year winner, Lisa knows that while recognition is good… a great learning experience is better.  Many students stay in touch with her long after their student life has ended.  That’s proof that she’s made an impact.

    And Today’ we’re taking a moment to honor Lisa Soltmann of Jackson Memorial High School as a Teacher Who Rocks.


    Spanish Teacher
    Red Bank Primary School

    Today, we’re honoring Stephanie Whelan, a Spanish teacher at Red Bank Primary School.  Stephanie is the NJEA NJEA Community Spotlight winner because she’s one of the most genuine people you will ever meet.

    Mrs. Whelan makes a conscious effort to treat each student the way she would want her own children to be treated by their teachers.

    Many of the projects that she plans require lots of extra preparation and planning, all of which she does on her own time.   As does the coordination of school programs with the Count Basie Center for the Arts and the yearly Harvest Festival.

    Stephanie’s kindness is contagious. She has a way of making you reflect on your own decisions, problems, and situations that always helps you come out more grounded, no matter if you’re a student or a colleague.

    That’s why we’re honoring Stephanie Whelan of Red Bank Primary School as a Teacher Who Rocks!


    Spanish Teacher
    Red Bank Regional High School

    Today, we’re honoring Karina Tedeschi, Spanish Teacher at Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver.  When you’re having a bad day, Karina is the person who has already bought you a cup of coffee or tea to make sure you get back on track.

    Mrs. Tedeschi supports her colleagues and students through acts of kindness; bringing in outside resources, and using her own personal time to ensure her students’ success. Her dedication to the “freshmen mentoring program” ensures a support structure so mentees acclimate and pass their classes.

    Karina watches over students whenever they need extra help and works to make sure they succeed. She is a major asset to the RBR community because she’s always willing to cover a class for a colleague.

    And Today’ we’re taking a moment to honor Karina Tedeschi of Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver as a Teacher Who Rocks.


    Kindergarten Teacher
    Bayville Elementary School

    Today, we’re honoring Toniann Palmieri, a kindergarten teacher at Bayville Elementary School. Her classroom celebrates kindness and nourishes a sense of pride. Mrs. Palmieri knows that, in addition to the ABC’s and 123’s, kindness is one of the greatest gifts she can give to her students.

    Toriann’s “knowledge buddies” approach fosters confidence and independence in all of her students but also allows students to shine individually.  She celebrates cultures, languages, and traditions by allowing children to share and present their customs to the class.

    Why are there so many people visiting Mrs. Palmieri before the morning bell? She is an active listener. She remains calm and cool. She keeps her promises. She is funny, humble, honest, and fair.

    That’s why we’re honoring Toniann Palmieri of Bayville Elementary School as a Teacher Who Rocks!


    AP Biology Teacher
    Toms River High School East

    Today, we’re honoring Jen Fazzini, an AP Biology Teacher at Toms River High School East.

    AP Biology is tough.  It’s demanding it requires a teacher like Mrs. Fazzini – tough as nails, but still can make it fun.

    The AP level Biology class is very difficult, but despite that, Jen forces her students to earn their placement and work towards that Level 5 score in May.  Her students rise to her leadership and guidance thanks to her creativity, like – for example – doing science speed dating, advising the student council while being a graduate of the high school herself.


    School Nurse
    H&M Potter School

    Today, we’re honoring Catherine Thompsen, she’s the school nurse at  H & M Potter School in Bayville.  Yeah, a school nurse.  Can you imagine how insane Catherine’s last few years have been?

    Mrs. Thompsen joined the school in the middle of the pandemic and it was:  boom! Right into the thick of it.  During this time, she has been a steady resource for not only our students, but for the staff and parents as well.

    Mrs. Thompsen has created a nurse’s office where students feel welcomed and cared for, which is necessary when they are not feeling their best. Whether it is Covid related, talking to a worried parent, or bandaging a scraped knee, Mrs. Thompsen shows incredible patience and compassion in all that she does.

    It’s that patience and compassion that we’re proud of as we honor Catherine Thompsen of H & M Potter School in Bayville as a Teacher Who Rocks!


    1st Grade Teacher
    Viola Sickles Elementary School

    Earning the honor this week is Nancy Gennusa, a 1st grade teacher at Viola Sickles Elementary School in Fair Haven.  Nancy is the Mary Poppins of teachers! She is patient and kind and always thinks on her feet.

    28 years in and Mrs. Gennusa is still learning new ways to communicate with her students.  Nancy is beyond dedicated. Her work doesn’t end in the afternoon when she leaves, she is known to work late into the night and on weekends.  The hard work pays off:  She knows special things about what each kid is interested in, and she uses that to really make them love learning; leaving the kids successful and proud.

    Nancy’s past students stay in touch with her which is such a strong testament to what an amazing teacher she is. This June, the Viola Sickles family will be losing her… Nancy will be retiring in June.  The school just won’t be the same without her.

    Today we’re taking a moment to celebrate Nancy Gennusa of Viola Sickles Elementary School.  A Teacher Who Rocks, Class of 2022.


    Teacher- Multiply Disabled Students
    Memorial Elementary School

    Earning the honor this week is from Memorial Elementary School in Freehold.  It’s Mike Savino, who teaches students with multiple disabilities and does it with dedication and determination.

    Not only does Mike work the school year but he also teaches in Howell Township’s Extended School Year program, making him truly a 12 month educator to his students.

    Mr. Savino’s day often begins very early and goes late as he communicates with parents and family members towards the universal goal of helping their kids reach their absolute fullest potential.   His sense of humor, care for his students and overall love for teaching appropriate behavioral strategies makes him one of a kind.

    Today we’re taking a moment to celebrate Mike Savino of Memorial Elementary School in Freehold and Howell Township schools as a Teacher Who Rocks, Class of 2022.


    Kindergarten Teacher
    Bay Head School

    Earning the honor this week is AnnMarie Wisliceny, a Kindergarten teacher at Bay Head School.

    Though Ann Marie has received recognition over the years, her number one motivation has always been the academic, social, and emotional advancement of her students. “What’s best for the kids” is behind every professional move she makes.  Accolades aren’t her thing.

    She’s an inspiration and a model for all of her colleagues.

    Because she is consistent, responsible, reliable, and trustworthy, Ann Marie is often sought out by students and co-workers for advice, comfort, or just company.

    The word classic can be defined as “judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.” AnnMarie is a true classic.

    Today we’re taking a moment to celebrate AnnMarie Wisliceny of Bay Head School as a Teacher Who Rocks, Class of 2022.  For more information about this awesome honor, click Teachers Who Rock at WRAT dot com.


    6th Grade Teacher
    Berkeley Township Elementary School

    Earning the honor this week is Joanna Mulholland, a 6th grade teacher at Berkeley Township Elementary School.  Joanna is someone who comes to school every day intending to challenge her students to be better than they were yesterday.  However, it’s not just her students:  She herself is constantly looking for ways to improve herself.

    Mrs. Mullholland’s students have an enthusiasm to learn because of her fun teaching style.  How fun?  Well, when she learned of the “Lego for Education” program she sprang into action.

    Joanna scoured the area for Lego’s, no thrift store was left untouched.  Spending countless hours cleaning, sorting and bagging the Lego’s paid off for the kids learning abilities.  Within a few months, her program gained the attention of NASA & NBC. The Today Show sent a film crew to the school ahead of the Artemis Mission. And, Dr. Jenny Nash from Lego Education even visited and worked with the students.

    She has sat on curriculum committees, ran afterschool STEAM Clubs, and Joanna even quarterbacked the Scholastic Great Bedtime Story Pajama Drive ending with over 70 sets of PJ’s donated to Ocean County kids.


    1st Grade Teacher
    Clara B Worth Elementary School

    Earning the honor this week is Heather Melanson, a 1st Grade Teacher at Clara B Worth Elementary School in Bayville.  This Teacher Who Rocks has the ability to make positive and lasting connections with her students. A talent that she Heather is able to share with colleagues.

    Mrs. Melanson is a true teacher leader, her opinion and expertise is held in high regard. Her ability to take even the most reserved students and bring out their inner excitement is remarkable.

    Heather is always finding fun and creative ways to bring her lessons to life.  Despite her many successes, Heather is always open to new ideas and techniques to reach even the most stubborn of learners.

    Here’s how we know Mrs. Melanson is awesome:  she is consistently one of the most requested teachers by parents and even colleagues with children in the school.  More than an educator, she’s an advocate for learning in all its’ forms.


    5th Grade Special Education Teacher
    Nellie F Bennett Elementary School

    Earning the honor this week is Nicole Suleski, a 5th Grade Special Education Teacher at Nellie F Bennett Elementary in Point Pleasant.  Nicole is dedicated to making sure that her students receive the most one-on-one attention possible.

    In special education, concepts can be difficult to understand but Mrs. Suleski teaches in a way that makes each children feel as if they can accomplish even the most difficult tasks. She has a calm demeanor all of the time and works tirelessly to make students feel like they can accomplish any task they are given.

    In addition, there’s a sense that Nicole is always motivating students to learn more; a teaching gift that comes from sheer talent yes, but more importantly preparation.  Her job requires hours of planning:  going through their IEPs, classwork, and files to learn more about how to best reach her students.


    Social Studies Teacher
    Cedar Drive Middle School

    Earning the honor this week is Joseph Truisi, a 7th grade social studies teacher at Cedar Drive Middle School in Colts Neck.  Joe’s work ethic, professionalism, and demeanor makes him a great role model for the students.  His good humor and positive attitude spills out of his classroom and brightens up the whole school!

    Joe’s dress up days are legendary! Whether it’s a historical period costume or spirit week, Joe is always above and beyond to the delight of his school community.  Learning comes alive thanks to Mr. Truisi.

    He also is always available for students and staff for extra help or mentoring or just listening.  For example, Joes’ “After the Bell”, program is an after school program for homework improvement.

    Mr. Truisi is proactive and he turnkeys essential professional development for his colleagues. And having a tech savvy hall neighbor is a major plus for anyone near his door.



    Math Teacher
    H.W. Mountz School

    Earning the honor this week is Karen Dettlinger, a math teacher at H.W. Mountz School in Spring Lake.  Karen is equal parts “firm but fair” and “approachable” as she knows students personally as she guides them through learning the challenging curriculum.  Mrs. Dettlinger is appreciated by students and parents alike; and since she’s experienced teaching kids at higher grade levels she knows how they need to be prepared for the challenges of high school.

    Interestingly, Mrs. Dettlinger has been a remote teaching expert long before COVID came along.  Karen was asked to be part of a remote teaching program that saw her providing leadership for students in high level math classes in Avon, Belmar, Brielle, and Sea Girt while also continuing to teach Spring Lake students.  Her systematic, intelligent, and forward thinking approach made it a success.


    Special Education Teacher
    Hazlet Middle School

    Earning the honor this week is Susan Brennan, a special education teacher at Hazlet Middle School.  Susan is caring, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and a true advocate for children, no matter what their abilities might be.

    Somehow, Mrs Brennan manages to create a learning environment where students actively participate while being guided in a way that meets their individual learning needs.

    In her classroom, Mrs. Brennan teaches not only academic content, but social skills, organization, and time management.  But not just that, Susan knows that learning life skills, responsibility, and teamwork will create friendship and community amongst her students.

    She creates a learning environment that is both challenging and supportive, never allowing students to give less than their best.

    Mrs. Brennan volunteers to work with students during extended hours, and she always says “yes” when asked to assist with special school functions, such as our Hurricane Palooza field day.

    Today we’re taking a moment to celebrate Susan Brennan of Hazlet Middle School.  A Teacher Who Rocks, Class of 2022.


    Honors Math Teacher
    Lacey Township Middle School

    Earning the honor this week is Allison Brannick, of Lacey Township Middle School, an honors math teacher. Mrs Brannick knows that to teach you don’t focus on the subject matter, no.  You focus on each individual student.  Only then can you properly respect their manner of learning.

    The diversity of Allison’s teaching methods are quite astounding.  In one classroom she can pull of 1 on 1 instruction, group interactions, or even carousel stations where learning becomes individualized.  Students freely work in the space where they feel most comfortable, and the results speak for themselves.

    Math is, of course, a tutoring profession, but Mrs. Brannick goes beyond that, and then some, by being a school drama director.  From the specificity of numbers to the creativity of drama, it’s no easy task.

    Even with the COVID restrictions, Allison found a way to pull off the school play.  Filmed and all.

    Today we’re taking a moment to celebrate Allison Brannick of Lacey Township Middle School.  A Teacher Who Rocks, Class of 2022.


    1st Grade Teacher
    Walnut Street Elementary School

    We’re honoring Lisa Hankins, 1st grade teacher at  Walnut Street Elementary School in Toms River.  Mrs. Hankins does not have a 9 to 5 job, she’s in this 24/7.  It is not uncommon for Lisa to come in early, stay late, and dedicate her own time to not only her students but the entire student population.

    Lisa is the kind of teacher who will show up to a student’s extracurricular activity, like gymnastics, just to show support. Scholastically, Mrs. Hankins has the ability to differentiate all ability levels and her main goal is always to ensure students leave her calss prepared for whatever comes their way.

    Beyond the classroom, Lisa also volunteers her time for a number of committees. Lisa is instrumental in the school’s PBSIS committee which focuses on promoting positive behavior in the school community. She has been a member of school spirt, pandemic-response committee, and more.

    Today’ we’re taking a moment to honor Lisa Hankins of Walnut Street Elementary School in Toms River as a Teacher Who Rocks.


    4th Grade Teacher
    Farmingdale Public School

    We’re honoring Kim Walsh, a 4th grade teacher at Farmingdale Public School.  Mrs. Walsh exemplifies all the qualities that an amazing educator should encompass. She is passionate, dedicated, has a vast amount of knowledge, is willing to help anyone, and truly cares about her students.

    Mrs. Walsh wears many hats within the Farmingdale school community. She is not only the 4th grade teacher but also has administrative responsibilities and she has taken on the role of helping to implement our Arts Integration Initiative and oversee the academic support and enrichment programs.

    Mrs. Walsh just received the 2021-2022 Educator of the Year award!