MANCHESTER – More awards for excellent teaching and instruction were presented during the latest Board of Education meeting.
During the session Manchester Township Middle School teacher Megan Baumgartner was named Teacher of the Year. Charlene O’Hara was named middle school Educational Service Professional (ESP) of the year.
The educators were introduced by Manchester Township Vice Principal Steve Ninivaggi. Anna Iwaszkowska was named Regional Day School Teacher of the Year while Kerry Walsh was awarded the Regional Day School ESP of the Year. They were introduced to the Board by Regional Day School Principal Lisa Michallis.
School Board President Ken Pate said that normally teachers of the year are awarded in May but due to the pandemic conditions that was not possible. “We are so happy to be able to recognize them now.”
Ninivaggi said of Baumgartner “she is supported by her husband Rob and her son Casey and her daughter Sandy. They are here tonight. She has taught special education language arts in the middle school for 17 years. She is a leader amongst her colleagues and established herself as an accomplished teacher who has earned the respect of parents and colleagues.
“She sets high expectations for her students while promoting a caring environment. Mrs. Baumgartner has established herself as an outstanding special education teacher who has had extensive training in the Wilson reading program and has established a successful program at the middle school,” Ninivaggi added.
“We are all important in our different roles and ceremonies such as this are very important. Thank you,” Baumgartner said.
Ninivaggi said O’Hara’s honor as ESP of the year “is well deserved. For 25 years she has demonstrated leadership not only as a member of our staff but as a member of the Manchester community. In the classroom she is part of the collaborative team that supports a learning environment.”
“What really makes Charlene stand out is how she builds positive and productive relationships with her colleagues. Teachers often request to have her in their classrooms because of her knowledge and the thoughtful suggestions she has to help benefit students,” Ninivaggi added.
It was Michallis’ turn to introduce the next teacher of the year. “Anna graduated from the University of Warsaw Poland with a bachelor and masters of arts degree in elementary education. She furthered her studies at Ocean County College, Jersey City University and Georgian Court College where she completed her course work for teacher of the handicapped.
“For the past 20 years the Regional Day School has been her home. Anna began her career as a para professional and has been a classroom teacher for the last four years. During her tenure she has been educating students with the most diverse and significant disabilities, Michallis said.
“Anna is the epitome of grace, compassion and creativity. She may have a quiet voice but her heart speaks volumes. Each child is treated as if they were her own,” Michallis said.
“Thank you so much,” Iwaszkowska said while surrounded by family members.
Michallis said Walsh, the Regional Day School ESP of the Year, “graduated from Springfield College in Massachusetts with a master of science degree in physical therapy.
“Kerry is a published author and has presented at conferences in the tri-state area on an array of topics including the development of children with autism. In 2011 she established an outpatient therapy center which has grown into a comprehensive program to improve the lives of children with special needs,” Michallis added saying that for Walsh ESP stood for “extra special person.”
Walsh said, “I have had the blessing of working in many different aspects of pediatric therapy and I had not yet had the opportunity to work in a school setting and I could not have landed in a better place. There is something incredibly special about Regional Day School.”
“There are truly angels that walk among us every single day at Regional Day School and I am honored and privileged to be able to work with each and every one of you and so grateful for the opportunity to work with the children in the school as well. Thank you for this incredible honor,” Walsh said.