Teachers Of The Year Honored In Manchester

Manchester Township’s 2022 Governor’s Educators of the Year gather after being honored at the Ocean County Superintendent’s Roundtable. (Photo courtesy Manchester Schools)

  MANCHESTER – School officials recently announced the district’s 2022 Governor’s Educators of the Year. These educators were also honored at the Ocean County Superintendent’s Roundtable.

  Each principal took a moment to highlight what made their teacher special.

  Manchester Township High School Principal Dennis Adams introduced his school’s recipient, special education math teacher Christine Wolfman, saying, “she is known as the ‘Amazing Christine Wolfman.’”

  “She is ‘erratically energetic.’ Every day she is passionate about teaching and making connections with students. She has a high energy level that creates a vibrant, fun learning environment for her students. She is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure her kids learn,” the principal added. “When we need her for anything, she is always willing to help. From preparing prom sashes, making masks for staff members, selling spirit T-shirts, and decorating bulletin boards to create a positive culture amongst staff and students.”

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Manchester Township High School Principal Dennis Adams joins his school’s Teacher of the Year, Christine Wolfman, saying, “she is known as the ‘Amazing Christine Wolfman.’” (Photo courtesy Manchester Schools)

  Adams called Wolfman, “the glue that keeps the heartbeat of our high school going. It is not very often you find a teacher and coach with as much positive energy and enthusiasm that impacts a school community. One of the biggest compliments I’ve heard a student say is, ‘Ms. Wolfman makes me believe I can learn anything.’ Once a student enters her classroom they are dramatically impacted and inspired.”

   Wolfman said she asks her students a lot of questions. “’What did you have for dinner last night? What did you do yesterday?’ Every day I ask my students these questions and for four to five minutes we talk about anything my students want to tell me. I want them to know that I am interested in what they did and I want them to know they have a time to talk about their day.

  “These simple questions open my students up to a more easy-going environment. After we discuss their day and they ask about mine, they are more interested in learning the lesson I have planned for them,” she said.

  This year’s Middle School Teacher of the Year is Kristine LaPorte who has taught science for 15 years.

Middle School Principal Nancy Driber, left, said Teacher of the Year Kristine LaPorte has built a career around helping students and being an active member of the Manchester community. (Photo courtesy Manchester Schools)

  “Mrs. LaPorte has built a career around helping students and being an active member of the Manchester community. She has established herself as an accomplished teacher who has earned the respect of parents and colleagues,” Principal Nancy Driber said.

  Driber said LaPorte “demands a lot from her students while promoting a caring environment where all students thrive. She has approached her role like every aspect of her life, with an exemplary work ethic, positive attitude, and the energy often seen from a brand-new teacher.”

  LaPorte said it was “a great surprise and an honor to be nominated as the Teacher of the Year at the Middle School. It is especially meaningful to be recognized after these past unconventional years where the required teaching strategies changed so quickly and so drastically.

  “I enjoy the connections I make with the middle schoolers and watching them grow and mature as they try to figure out who they are and their place in the world. I find it rewarding when they are graduating high school or college and they remember things we talked about in class and they thank me for teaching them,” she said.

  LaPorte said she enjoys, “thinking of new, interactive, engaging activities we can do in class to learn together. I am thankful for colleagues who became good friends and somewhere along the line seemed to transition into family. I cherish their support and camaraderie. I am proud to be a part of an amazing district.”

  Jessica Brosnan was named Teacher of the Year at Manchester Township Elementary School and Principal Linda Waldron had a lot to say about her.

  “She is perhaps one of the most exceptionally skilled and dedicated educators I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Her talents have spread across the school for the past 20 years. When asked to describe her, the MTES staff noted her high level of skill and knowledge, her community-mindedness, her kindness and concern for all children, her true dedication to helping students of all backgrounds and educational levels and, most of all, her unwavering patience in even the most challenging of situations,” Waldron said.

Manchester Township Elementary School Principal Linda Waldron had a lot to say about her school’s Teacher of the Year Jessica Brosnan during a recent Board of Education meeting. (Photo courtesy Manchester Schools)

  Brosnan wears many hats at MTES. She serves as a Basic Skills Interventionist, Reading Disability/Dyslexia Screener, Wilson Reading Foundations Facilitator and Trainer for the district. She is a member of many committees including School Safety Team, Attendance, Tiered System, and Intervention and Referral Services committees.

  “When a student demonstrated great difficulty in communication, Jessica learned words in the child’s native language to build a bridge to understanding with him and his father. This year when a large family moved into the district with an unclear educational history, Jessica took on the task of tracking down staff from the former out of state school to find the appropriate educational programs to offer them. The bottom line is, Jessica is our most reliable ‘go-to’ person for solving pretty much any educational mystery,” the principal added.

  Brosnan said she was very grateful for the recognition. “I feel fortunate to work in a district that truly understands how important it is to foster both the academic development and emotional well-being of our students. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to foster a love of learning in the young students I teach, and will continue to encourage all of the children I serve to be the best they can be.”

  Ridgeway Elementary School Principal Nikki Mazur described her school’s Teacher of the Year, Nicole Robinson as “passionate and intelligent, and has raised the bar on finding new ways to increase student engagement and total participation. Her enthusiasm for teaching and learning is absolutely contagious.”

  Robinson teaches math to three classes of 5th grade students. “Not only does she find time to create outstanding and detailed lesson plans, her use of many strategies to promote student engagement make her a role model for other staff members,” Mazur said.

Ridgeway Elementary School Principal Nikki Mazu, center, described her school’s Teacher of the Year, Nicole Robinson, far right, as a teacher who has raised the bar on finding new ways to increase student engagement. Joining them at left is Vice Principal Kerry Young. (Photo courtesy Manchester Schools)

  Robinson’s determination and insight “allowed us to experience firsthand the endless possibilities of flexible seating. Her endeavors were highly successful. Even in the pandemic and with COVID protocols, Nicole worked hard to find ways to maintain creativity while keeping students safe,” she said.

  “Mrs. Robinson is a true teacher leader.  She serves as a mentor to a new teacher and works closely to guide her student teacher.  She created the first annual 5th Grade Talent Show, which is now a permanent school event.  She also works with colleagues on all kinds of fundraisers and events, along with the Jr. Impact Club. She is very creative and has logged many volunteer hours on all types of artistic endeavors for our building,” the principal added.

  Robinson said it was an honor to be recognized as Ridgeway Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year. She is a graduate of the Manchester Township School District and began her teaching career six years ago at Ridgeway.

  “Being a 5th grade teacher is one of the most rewarding experiences. I love being able to watch my students grow from elementary students into students that are ready to take on middle school in just one short year. One infamous quote puts it perfectly: ‘If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life,’” the educator said.

  She added, “I view being an educator not as work, but as making connections with my students, not only on an educational level, but on a personal level as well. I am beyond grateful and humbled to be named Teacher of the Year.”

  Whiting Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year is Stefani Mercer. Principal Evelyn Swift remarked that while Mercer’s time at Whiting School has been short, “the impact she’s made has been felt in tremendous ways. “

  “Mrs. Mercer came to Manchester Schools with experience teaching in Louisiana and the Lakewood Public Schools. She presently teaches first & second graders in the LLD (Learning & Language Disabilities) program. She has provided a creative, supportive environment for her students. Her passion for her craft can be seen in all she does,” Swift added.

Whiting Elementary School Principal Evelyn Swift, left, said her school’s Teacher of the Year, Stefani Mercer, has made an impact that has been felt in tremendous ways. (Photo courtesy Manchester Schools)

  She said Mercer “is an asset to the committees she serves. She is a member of the Intervention & Referral Services Committee, where she helps problem solve and offers strategies for struggling students. She has sown seeds of excitement in her students for gardening, helping to buy and plant New Jersey’s official state fruit, the blueberry bush, in our school garden.”

  “I believe that teachers are in the business of helping to create lifelong memories by making connections through academics, social skills, and emotional learning,” Mercer said. “It is truly the most rewarding and wonderful thing to be a part of our students’ lives and create a little family within our four walls each year while being able to guide and watch them grow in so many ways. I know that being an educator also means that we are all learners for life and I would be remiss if I did not thank the wonderful educational professionals that continue to guide, support, and teach me as I continue my teaching journey.”

  Regional Day School’s Teacher of the Year is Michelle DeSantis and Principal Lisa Michallis said “this is truly a well-deserved honor for a dedicated teacher that is skilled and innovative as well as a leader in the building and community.

Regional Day School Principal Lisa Michallis, left, said her school’s Teacher of the Year, Michelle DeSantis, is a dedicated teacher that is skilled and innovative. (Photo courtesy Manchester Schools)

  “For the past 18 years she has been dedicated to educating students with the most diverse and significant disabilities including but not limited to the deaf and blind, communication disordered, orthopedically disabled, developmentally disabled, and medically frail. Most recently she developed a program for students ages five to seven,” Michallis said.

  “Each day she brings warmth and a smile to the classroom and school. Each child is treated as if they were her own. On a daily basis she is attentive to their needs and celebrates each child’s success no matter how big or small,” the principal added.

  DeSantis said she was “very lucky to be part of the Manchester Township School District faculty. I have been a lifelong resident of Manchester and proudly graduated from Manchester High School. I first experienced Regional Day School as a college student observing a classroom.

  “I knew immediately this is where I had to teach. I was fortunate enough to begin my career there upon graduating Georgian Court in 2003 and have loved every day there since. I have been blessed to have the most amazing students and paraprofessionals. I know in the classroom I am the teacher, but often I am the one learning,” DeSantis said.