LACEY – Teachers in the township school district were recently recognized for their accomplishments and expertise.
School Superintendent Vanessa Pereira said during a recent Board of Education meeting that behind every successful student “is a teacher who has not only taught, has inspired, motivated, coached, championed his or her students, and we can’t thank our teachers of the year enough.”
Among those named as this year’s teachers of the year are Marykate Casaletto of Cedar Creek Elementary School who remarked that “as far back as I remember, I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps and become an elementary school teacher.
“Teaching at that very same elementary school in which I attended as a child is simply the icing on the cake. Cedar Creek will always be a second home to me. In the past 11 years I have worked with the Lacey Township School District, I have taught 6th, 3rd, and 1st grade. Every day that I step foot in the classroom, I teach as if my own two children were in the room,” she added.
Casaletto said “I am looking forward to making a difference in the lives of my students for many more years to come!”
“Mrs. Casaletto is an instructional leader. She has numerous certifications and achievements,” Cedar Creek Principal Jacqueline Ranuska said.
Forked River Elementary School teacher of the year Jenna Flynn also noted wanting to be a teacher early in life. “Since I was very young, I knew that education was the career path I would take. In 2003, I began teaching second grade.
“Throughout the last 19 years, there have been many changes in education. Despite these changes, I continue to be motivated and inspired by my students, families, and supportive colleagues. In addition to being a wife and mother of three children, being a teacher has also been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life,” Flynn said.
The educator said it was her goal each day to “create an environment that is positive, caring and nurturing in which my students feel confident enough to take risks in their learning.”
Principal Eric Fiedler read a letter from a former student of Flynn’s from 18 years ago, who said the teacher had a “positive imprint” on her education and fondly remembered Flynn’s class and that she even attended her high school graduation.
Leah Davies, who teaches at Lanoka Harbor Elementary School remarked that she was “very fortunate to be a part of the teaching staff at the Lanoka Harbor Elementary School for so many years doing what I truly love, being a first grade teacher.”
“The students love of learning, the excitement they express and the tremendous growth that they make throughout the year are exhilarating. Their excitement encourages me to continue learning different ways to enhance my instruction so that they continue to enjoy coming to school each day ready to learn,” she added. “Making connections and building relationships with my students, families and school community are also important and rewarding.”
Her Principal Jeffrey Brewer said, “there is no one that has the passion that she has for this school district and it really is inspiring how she brings that Lacey pride to her students every day.”
Mill Pond Elementary School teacher Shannon Fisher said she feels blessed to have “the opportunity to have worked with so many amazing families, dedicated and caring colleagues and supportive administration throughout my years teaching here in Lacey.”
Fisher added, “over the last 20 years, I have formed so many positive professional relationships, allowing me to be the best I can be for my students. My favorite part of teaching is watching my 5th graders come in as young moldable minds and seeing them leave as strong, confident members of our school community.
“My heart swells when they come back to visit and share their stories of success,” she said.
Her principal, Holly Niemiec, described her as the “sunshine in everyone’s day” who has a contagious passion for teaching. “She makes sure everybody feels welcome.”
Lacey Township Middle School’s Teacher of the Year is Alison Brannick who Principal Jason King said “is a teacher, but more importantly, she is an educator.”
Brannick is an algebra teacher who King said, “pushes successful students and supports those who need it. To be with them as they push through that and find success on the other end is truly a magical gift.”
King mentioned that Brannick also serves as the lead director of the drama department and “brings life to the art.”
Also acknowledged was Lacey High School science special education teacher Gianna Gearity who Principal Gregory Brandis said greatly impacted the school’s “most needy students.”
Brandis added that the school selected Gearity to teach seniors in an English inclusion classroom during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic which he noted was out of her “content comfort zone.”
The principal added, “not only did she get them across the finish line for graduation in the most difficult time, she actually made a difference in their lives and every life she comes across with in Lacey Township High School.”