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MTES Teacher of the Year Jessica DeRiggi

Remarks by MTES Principal Linda Waldron

It is with great pleasure that I announce Mrs. Jessica DeRiggi as Manchester Township Elementary School's Teacher of the Year. I have had the privilege of knowing Jessica for just 5 years, but the Manchester community has benefited from her many talents since 2009 when she joined our staff. But her history with Manchester goes back way before that when she was just a high school student giving of her time and talents to help with our Kevin's Kids Program. Back then she didn't realize that making a difference would become her career. The plan was to go into Broadcast Journalism, but thankfully for us, she choose the career path of education and finished her undergraduate degree at Georgian Court University before landing a position at MTES. Jessica is a highly respected staff member and I have observed her dedication and passion for teaching first hand as her principal these past 5 years. Over her 10 year career she has taught first, second and third grades, and looped with two different groups of students. Parents wish she could loop every year with their children. I received letters or calls of support from every parent the year I moved her to third grade. This highly qualified educator is a valued member of our third grade team at MTES and one of the most positive, happy and compassionate individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

As an exceptionally skilled and dedicated educator Jessica plans lessons with her colleagues to meet the needs of all her learners and digs deep into her bag of tricks to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities. She understands the needs of our special education students and often has some challenging behavioral issues to deal with in her class. Jessica works hard to find ways to help struggling learners succeed, creates social and emotional supports for all students and knows how to engage and challenge her more advanced learners to think outside the box. She believes that all students can learn and perseveres in making sure they do. Student growth is seen in her classroom year after year.

Mrs. DeRiggi "demonstrates leadership and innovation in and outside the classroom, " as an active member of our school and community. For the past two years she served as the NGSS school leader, bringing STEAM to life, attending workshops, turnkeying information to staff and running grade level meetings. This year she teamed up with another teacher leader to present important science information on evaluating and understanding Guided Inquiry Design, specifically with NGSS in mind. As a valued member of our District Math Committee she represented MTES on our search for a new resource to better teach math to all elementary students in Manchester. She is also a member of our Science and Assessment Committees at MTES. Jessica teaches our Title One Discovery Program and is a private tutor for 5 different students. If that isn't enough she also wears the hat of Co-Leader of our Spirit committee, planning school wide events to bring a positive school culture to our school. She is constantly providing resources, advice, suggestions or expertise to teachers and staff due to her many involvements.

But she isn't just active in school. Did you know that she is in the Bell Choir at her church, the youngest member by the way? She believes in giving back to the community and runs a fundraising program each year to bring awareness to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or DMD to honor her brother in law who has suffered from this debilitating disease, since being confined to a wheelchair in 2010. As I mentioned before she has been actively involved in helping with our Kevin's Kids program since her high school years.

Mrs. DeRiggi is a lifelong learner as is evidenced by her continuing her education at Georgian Court University where she received her graduate degree in English as a Second Language. She presented a district workshop on how to partner with Families and School community to provide strategies to help everyone in educating children. She believes strongly in closing the achievement gap between ELL and non-ELL students and staff often seek her advice and guidance in this area.

When I asked her students what they thought of her, they shared these remarks: "She is very, very pretty. She gets my jokes and her jokes of the day are pretty funny too. Her Dojo points are fair and cool. She is a very nice teacher and she helps everyone when they need it. She is loving. She is the opposite of mean and she doesn't yell, ever. She is a kind, helpful, loyal teacher to her students and teacher friends. She appreciates us all and we appreciate her. She greets us with a hug everyday!"

For all the reasons I have mentioned you can see that she has the respect and admiration of students, parents, colleagues and administrators. It is hard to believe this wonderful role model would have time for anything else, but she does have other loves. Of course MTES, her husband Tom, the beach and her family and friends. We are honored to have such a positive, professional, dedicated, innovative teacher to represent us at MTES.

On Behalf of the MTES staff, our Vice Principal, Mrs. Moore, and myself-We Congratulate Mrs. Jessica DeRiggi...on this well deserved honor...MTES Teacher of the Year-2019!

Read Mrs. DeRiggi's remarks here.