Ocean County CollegeCongratulations to the Following Teachers!

NJEA Community Spotlight Winner
Special Education Math teacher
Matawan High School
Nominated by: Liz Zeppilli, Teacher

We’re honoring our NJEA Community Spotlight Winner: Sheryl Kish, a special education math teacher at Matawan high School.

Sheryl has a firm but respectful way with the kids. She never raises her voice, she earns their respect and they respond to her. Her first goal is to create a solid relationship with them, then the teaching / learning relationship can flow.

A lot of times special Ed teachers get overlooked because the amount of kids they work with is smaller, but we’re ending that because Mrs. Kish’s classrooms are a unique and awesome place for the kids to learn. Her caring goes beyond the classroom as she often helps students with fundraisers for families in need, or even helping to find prom dresses for a student in financial distress.

Today we’re celebrating the teaching ability of Sheryl Kish, a special education math teacher at Matawan high School. Sheryl is a Teacher Who Rocks in the highest order!

Paraprofessional and Translator
Ridgeway Elementary School
Nominated by: Nikki Mazur, Principal

You know who rocks? It’s Madeline Sias-Villalona (Si – is Vil a lo na). Madeline is our second educational support professional for the 2021 Teachers Who Rock campaign. Mrs. Sias, as everyone knows, is a hero of learning English at Ridgeway Elementary School in Manchester.

Madeline is an important communication conduit between students, parents and the school; spending countless after school to meet with everyone involved about attendance, community resources, school activities and more.

She is confidential, intelligent, and truly has a heart for children.

The true value of an educational support professional is the “behind the scenes” support; and Mrs. Sias is the behind the scenes Queen!

Madeline: you’re now officially a Teacher Who Rocks! Thanks for everything you do – seen and unseen – for the Ridgeway Elementary School community.

H & M Potter School
Nominated by:  Andrea Cimino, Principal

You know who rocks? Jaquanna Jacobs, she’s an ESP… an Educational Support Professional at H & M Potter School in Bayville.

Over the past year one of the most important qualities for an educator is: being able to adapt. Mrs. Jacobs embodies that ability. She can jump into any situation at a moment’s notice and be successful. In any given week she could be working with a student 1:1, assisting in a virtual classroom, or covering for a teacher completely… And Jaquanna does it with confidence, compassion and grace.

Her flexibility to switch between programs has helped us to keep consistency for students during this hectic year… and that consistency is key for kids to be able to learn every day.

Jaquanna, you’re now officially a Teacher Who Rocks!

8th Grade Math Teacher
Southern Regional Middle School
Nominated by: Katie Cherney, Teacher

We are honoring 8th grade math teacher, Diane Liebmann of Southern Regional Middle School in Manahawkin.

Creating lessons for 3 different levels of math that can work for BOTH in person students and virtual learning students is no easy task. Yet, Diane does it with a creative flair that is hard to beat. The creativity she employs challenges students to rise to the occasion; and they do.

It’s not only students that benefit from Mrs. Liebmann’s expertise. Diane regularly assists her colleagues with teaching strategies. She is always willing to use her talent to help others.

Today we’re celebrating the creativity and passion for learning that Diane Liebmann of Southern Regional Middle School in Manahawkin brings to school every day.

School Nurse
Memorial Elementary School
Nominated by Principal Ray

We are honoring an ESP: Educational Support Professional: The school nurse at Memorial Elementary School in Freehold, LoriAnn Grimes.

Lori Ann is usually the glue that keeps the students and faculty in the school together… but during a world-wide pandemic she’s become the life line… a person responsible for the health and safety of so many; and so many people are thankful for her amazing efforts!

Mrs. Grimes quickly learned how to handle many of the unique needs of the school’s special education population, working closely with paraprofessionals, teachers, administration and families to help students during times of medical need.

Even after a few decades of service to the Jersey Shore school community, Lori Ann has proven that she still can rock while under pressure, that’s why we’re honoring her during our 2021 Teachers Who Rock celebration!

First Grade
Mahala F. Atchison Elementary School
Nominated by Cindy Loniewski, Parent

You know who is a Teacher Who Rocks? Kayla Main of Mahala F. Atchison Elementary School in Tinton Falls.

Before class, after class… Mrs Main is online all day and still makes every effort to give extra support to her students after hours. Not only is she there for her students, but she also gives her time to parents who have questions or concerns; and when the days are so confusing it is even more important to be available for questions.

Holidays have turned into special virtual celebrations and Kayla even takes the time to decorate her class as she would under normal school situation, so she can show students who are remote learning what class life is all about.

Virtual learning and teaching is not easy, but Miss Main has shown all of us that a positive attitude and a smile go a long way.

Today, we’re celebrating Kayla Main of Mahala F. Atchison Elementary School as a Teacher Who Rocks!

Computer Science Teacher
Lacey Township Middle School
Nominated by fellow teacher Kathleen Cafiero

You know who’s a Teacher Who Rocks? Kim Brown, Computer Science teacher at Lacey Township Middle School.

Ms. Brown is the IT person in our building. Can you imagine the enormous work load for her? With so many kids and teachers changing between remote and in-person learning… the changes almost on a daily or weekly basis? The words, “never” and “no” do not exist in Kim’s vocabulary.

Kim’s job of keeping the student body connected would be busy enough these days, but she also sets up the technology for standardized testing AND teaches her own classes of 7th and 8th graders as well. Even over the summer, Ms. Brown is busy putting together workshops so her colleagues can stay ahead of the constantly changing technology.

And during it all, Kim Brown’s positivity shines through each moment she is with you. That’s why she’s a Teacher Who Rocks!

Health & Physical Education Teacher
Millstone Middle School
Nominated by fellow teacher Kelly Rosetto

We’re honoring Stuart Faunce, a Phys Ed teacher at Millstone Middle School.

You know why he’s a teacher who rocks? Because Mr. Faunce helps kids be kids; he helps ‘em ditch COVID for a bit and reminds them that exercise and being active is one giant great joy of being young.

Stuart has great ideas for how to keep kids excited and moving while staying in personal space. He uses personal choice to keep students engaged and even lets them direct their own active play by having students learn and teach new games.

Health is Mr. Faunce’s happy place: he’s always finding new resources to use for virtual and in person health lessons that can be shared with his colleagues. What else is fun? He’s a full circle guy: actually graduated from Millstone Middle School himself.

A big shout out today to Stuart Faunce; we love how you not just respect but also nurture kids in the active world.

3rd Grade Teacher
Cecil S. Collins School in Barnegat
Nominated by Maryellen Viglone

Paige LaDuca, a 3rd grade teacher at Joseph T. Donahue School.

What sets Mrs. LaDuca apart? Maybe it’s the heartfelt compassion. Perhaps it’s the conversations and collaborations she employs. It might just be the high expectations for learning but also the fact that she provides the tools for her students to succeed.

Then again, it’s all of this and more that instill a feeling of self-worth in her students. And that self-valuation is where the magic is.

Paige also contributes to the entire school body and her colleagues by being part of committees that make the school better and she contributes to after school programs to help kids who seek more knowledge or who may need an extra boost to achieve their goals.

We’re taking a moment to celebrate the teaching ability of Paige LaDuca, a Teacher Who Rocks at the Joseph T. Donahue School in Barnegat.

Special Education Science Teacher
Brick memorial High School
Nominated by Donna Decker (No relation)

Brian Decker is a Special Education Teacher at Brick Memorial High School.

Mr. Decker has a way of connecting with his students on their own, individual levels, and making sure each student feels like a valued part of the class.

He’s laid back, but still professional. He’s inspiring and goal orientated, but also funny and approachable. Brian is a Teacher Who Rocks because he’s able to get EVEN struggling kids to participate on their own level and feel like they are accomplishing their goals. He’s so effective that, years after graduation, students stay in contact for his advice.

Not only that, Mr. Decker’s dedication as a Cross Country at Ocean County College helps young people learn about how teamwork and excellence as an individual go hand-in-hand.

A big shout out today to Brian Decker of Brick Memorial High School.

School Nurse

Bayville School
Nominated by Principal Steven Reider & Assistant Principal Melissa Gallagher

We’re honoring Melissa Reece.  Melissa is the school nurse at the Bayville Elementary School. 

Who, in a normal year a school nurse’s job of being the guiding force behind the health of the school community is a tough job.  But, during a pandemic?  Wow, what a challenge.  And, you know who is rockin’ it?  Melissa Reece. 

With the health of students and staff at the forefront of every decision, Mrs. Reece has been an integral resource.  All school stakeholders have relied on her expertise and, without fail; she answered the call every time.

Contacting families, tracing and giving guidance to students, staff and families alike:  And doing it with a calm and positive demeanor, Melissa has been the water and sunshine that makes the school grow and be healthy. 

Today we’re taking a moment to appreciate Melissa Reece of Bayville Elementary.  Her performance as school nurse makes her a Teacher Who Rocks. 

Spanish Teacher
Red Bank Regional High School
Nominated by supervisor, Lisa Boyle

We’re honoring Keith Savarese, a Spanish Teacher at Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver.

Mr. Savarese has refreshed and brightened the World Language Department.  He respects his students and, in return, his students respect him.  Whether it’s showing up early or staying late to help a kid, no ask is too big for Keith.

It’s common for Keith to help kids with homework not only in Spanish, but also in Italian, Math, Science, English and Social Studies. Not only that, he volunteers to tutor Spanish-speaking students in all subject areas to better their English language learning skills.  Teaching is not a job for Mr. Savarese, it’s a life’s goal.

In addition to being an excellent teacher, Keith is an outstanding colleague:  he stops at nothing to help a fellow teacher in need.

Today we’re taking a moment to appreciate Mr. Savarese of Red Bank Regional High School.  His enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism make him a Teacher Who Rocks. 

3rd Grade Teacher
St. Mary Academy/Manahawkin
Nominated by fellow teachers

We’re honoring Kathrynann Rienzi, a 3rd grade teacher at St. Mary Academy in Manahawkin.

Mrs. Rienzi’s high standards are driven by her high energy and dedication to the teaching profession.  Her students know that they are expected to do great things, but Kathrynann knows that each of the students may need different teaching styles to propel them towards that greatness.

Her students benefit year after year as she continues a local readers program whereby she invites popular authors to visit with her students.  Students learn first-hand from this experience and are inspired to continue a reading club over the following summer.   Simply amazing!

Her dedication to “being there to care” extends to even staying close to school on days of inclement weather so she’ll be sure to be able to make it in. 

So, Mrs. Rienzi, on behalf of a grateful community:  thanks for being a Teacher Who Rocks!  

First Grade Teacher
Waretown Elementary School
Nominated by parent and PTO president Alicia Goldner

We’re honoring Erin Weinberg a 1st grade Teacher at Waretown Elementary School.

Mrs. Weinberg’s summer of 2020 was spent studying ways to make virtual classes special. How to make lessons jump off the page, while a student is on a screen at home is NO simple task.

Erin has actually made school better through virtual learning, finding ways to separate kids who need the extra help while still teaching towards the larger group of virtual kids.

She is the definition of “lemonade from lemons”. Even with all this, her virtual lessons have schedules and routines; under which all kids seem to benefit. Books, writing, crafts, and yes – the screen – all are used to help create a successful learning environment.

Virtual learning is not easy, nor is it something that should replace in person learning- but in this situation: Mrs. Weinberg makes it rock!

Erin Weinberg, on behalf of a grateful community: thanks for being a Teacher Who Rocks!

Art Teacher
Academy Charter High School/Lake Como
Nominated by Director of Curriculum Klarissa Martin

When COVID hit, a normally hands-on Arts and Humanities program had to quickly switch to an online format. Ms. Johnston adjusted her and made it possible for students to succeed. She found new and innovative ways to get students to interact from afar.

The diversity of her students isn’t a challenge for Jennifer as much as it is an opportunity…. An opportunity to relate art to the past and present, to connect students to reality through physical experiences and to captivate kids’ minds as they critique both famous artists and each other.

Today, we’re proud to honor Jennifer Johnston of Academy Charter High School as a teacher who rocks! We appreciate her enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism.

5th Grade Teacher
Berkeley Township Elementary School
Nominated by Principal Daniel Prima

We’re honoring Sharon Ofsanko, 5th grade teacher at Berkeley Township Elementary School.

Just being good enough is not an option for Mrs. Ofsanko; she’s constantly researching and thinking of better ways to reach kids, to inspire students, to create a stimulating learning environment.

Sure, she’s an 18 year teaching veteran, but the energy and enthusiasm Sharon brings to school every day is that of a first-year teacher.

Sharon has taken the idea of being the school’s first Kindness Squad leader into a Good Morning project to create a positive start to the day and that – in turn – has blossomed into a pay-it-forward vibe that has brought kindness to new heights at Berkeley Elementary.

Adapting to the challenges of the COVID pandemic she’s actually made things actually better: parent teacher conferences, student input and so much more.

Today, a big shout out to Sharon Ofsanko of Berkeley Township Elementary. A true hero for students, parents and colleagues alike!

Red Bank Primary School
Nominated by fellow teacher Rachel DeBari

Miss Faistl walks with the pride and knowledge that teaching at multiple schools brings. Not only multiple schools, but she’s taught multiple grade and age levels. This gives Meredith a particularly excellent long-view of the teaching process.

Now, as a 3rd grade teacher, Meredith is one of those teachers that make school feel magical to little kids. Her students are her “Faistl Family”.

Meredith Faistl genuinely cares about her students and the field of education. She’s one of those teachers that students will always remember because she truly teaches from her heart.

The dedication is simply illustrated when she’s often found logged in to a remote learning one-on-one session with a struggling student… She does this because she knows the student needs the help and without it the student will suffer.

There’s no better time or place than now to say, “thanks” to Meredith Faistl of Red Bank Primary. Being a Teacher Who Rocks is the least we can do for you to say thank you

School Library Media Specialist
Shrewsbury Borough School
Nominated by fellow teacher Brittany King

We’re honoring Samantha Bremekamp, the library media specialist at Shrewsbury Borough School.

Ms. Bremekamp’s goal seems to be to transport kids when they enter her class, to where one asks? To anywhere and everywhere. She’s always cultivating a culture of inquiry and exploration. She created the school’s Innovation Lab, which is used for students to create and explore new ideas.

Within the walls of the Library Media Center, questions and answers volley with each other; thinking is always encouraged. But, even with and especially because of, Samantha’s lessons remain valid and current; involving tough topics like race, environment, and social behavior like bullying. She creates a learning environment where students are safe and welcome to explore a world of possibility.

We’re honoring Samantha Bremekamp of Shrewsbury Borough School as a Teacher Who Rocks because teachers create future leaders.

School Nurse
Clara B Worth Elementary/Bayville
Nominated by Principal Cara Burton and Assistant Principal Kevin Waldron

This Teacher Who Rocks is actually a school nurse… and these days are they more important than ever! So, welcome: Kimberly Helling of Clara B. Worth Elementary School in Bayville.

Mrs Helling’s work-load and daily responsibilities have been multiplied exponentially, yet she continues to be kind and patient. Her record keeping and communication skills are second to none.

No need to imagine the confusion that the pandemic has brought us, we’ve all felt it… well, Kimberly has been the person who clears up that confusion, makes sense of it – as much as it’s possible – and maintains a clear head through it all herself.

Communication in every direction seems to be Mrs. Helling’s calling these days. Sending information to worried parents? She’s on it. Communicating the changing safety protocol to teachers and administration? She’s on that too. She IS the actual resource.

Not only that, she’s volunteered as a contact tracer, gone above and beyond with the Ocean County Health department and the state school nurses association; all of it to be better prepared as the Clara B Worth school nurse.

Kimberly Helling, you are a Teacher Who Rocks and you can always look back at these trying times with the pride earned for rising to the occasion.

7th Grade English Teacher
Lacey Township Middle School
Nominated by: Linda Kirk, Teacher (TWR Class of 2011)

Mr. Kramer reaches his students by through his honesty, humor, strong sense of fairness; and the belief that everyone can succeed. Over the years, Ray has learned that no one student is alike, that their inspiration comes in many forms.

Ray Kramer is a leader amongst his peers, he’s been chosen to help create curriculum that has been used throughout the school. Ray’s colleagues appreciate his ability to work with everyone and share ideas, all the while inspiring others and even encouraging some educational risk-taking.

Beyond the classroom, Mr. Kramer continues to inspire the Lacey Township Middle School Drama Club and his good vibes and strong, encouraging personality is why we’re taking a moment to celebrate him as a Teacher Who Rocks in 2021.

Basic Skills Teacher
Ocean Acres Elementary School
Nominated by: Susan D’Allesandro, Principal

When popping into her classrooms you will see Mrs. Osborne bring lesson to life. She gets her kids to actively engage. Completing tasks isn’t her goal, understanding and learning is.

Mrs. Osborne regularly checks in with other teachers; and more importantly her students’ parents, to find ways to enhance Ocean Acres educational effectiveness .

These are trying times for the entire educational community. Being able to jump from in-person to hybrid learning shows flexibility and talent: two things that Tracy Osborne seems to have in endless supply.

Today we’re proud to let you know that Tracy Osbourne of Ocean Acres Elementary School will receive the precious “crystal apple” because she is a Teacher Who Rocks.