Manchester 2022 Teachers of the Year
Manchester Township School District’s 2022 Governor’s Educators of the Year (Teachers of the Year) were honored at the May Board of Education meeting and also at the Ocean County Superintendent’s Roundtable in May. Below are the principal’s introductory remarks from the Board of Education meeting and the teachers’ comments from the Superintendent’s Roundtable program. Group photo is from Superintendent's Roundtable (Jessica Brosnan was not present).
MTHS Christine Wolfman
Principal Remarks - Dennis Adams
It is my honor to introduce the MTHS Teacher of the Year, Christine Wolfman. She is known as the ‘Amazing Christine Wolfman.’ She teaches Special Ed Math.
Here is what a colleague said about her, ‘she is painfully on time.’ She arrives at school around 5:30 a.m. and coordinates with the custodian to make sure the building is open. That’s how much she cares about being prepared for the day. 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. She is ‘chronically dependable.’ That means 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.
As you can tell, Wolfman, as we call her, is 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.” It is that statement that makes Wolfman the Teacher of the Year. Once a student enters her classroom they are dramatically impacted and inspired.
Be proud Mrs. Wolfman, you touch lives. We couldn't be happier that you were voted by your peers as Teacher of the Year. On behalf of the Board of Education, students, parents, staff and administration, and the entire community, we congratulate you and your family on this prestigious honor. Thank you for all you do Christine Wolfman, Teacher of the Year.
Comments from Ms. Wolfman
What did you have for dinner last night? What did you do yesterday? Everyday I ask my students these questions and for 4-5 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.
I have known what I wanted to do since I was in elementary school. I wanted to help those that needed a little extra help. I wanted to be a special education teacher. I had an amazing first grade teacher that I still have lunch with today, Mrs. Beth Evans. I graduated from Kean University where I had Professor Mr. Arthur Jonas, who showed us real life inside a classroom.
I have had the pleasure of teaching special education at Manchester Township High School for 20 years and coaching cheer for 11. In this time I have met some extraordinary teachers, administrators and students. WIthout them, I would not be the teacher I am today. I only hope that there are teachers out there that I can help to love this career as much as I do.
Manchester Township Middle School - Kristine LaPorte
Principal Remarks - Nancy Driber
Kristine LaPorte is the Middle School Teacher of the Year. Mrs. LaPorte is a graduate of the University of Delaware and has taught science at the middle school for the past 15 years. Mrs. LaPorte has built a career around helping students and being an active member of the Manchester community. As a teacher of 15 years, she has established herself as an accomplished teacher who has earned the respect of parents and colleagues.
She demands a lot from her students while promoting a caring environment where all students thrive. Mrs. LaPorte has established herself as an absolutely outstanding teacher. 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. She embraced and is piloting the Open Sci Ed program and her enthusiasm with the program is applauded. She facilitates activities to encourage her students and has launched Earth Day, Field Day and March Mammal Madness, two of our students' favorites.
Mrs. LaPorte not only brings the demand for a high level of performance from her students, but she also expands their experiences by bringing the community into her classroom and bringing her students into the community. Mrs. LaPorte volunteers at the All Fur Rescue along with her son. She has worked closely with the district administration to include ‘All Fur Education’ in the Manchester schools. This is an endeavor to increase awareness of animal welfare. In addition to her commitment to her students, Mrs. LaPorte actively participates in a variety of fundraisers and charitable organizations including the Kevin's Kids holiday drive and All Fur One rescue, and has facilitated the middle school Cheer Committee. Once again, I would like to congratulate Kristine and her family for her accomplishments as Teacher of the Year.
Comments from Ms. LaPorte
It was such 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 began my teaching career at Roy Brown Middle School in Bergenfield, NJ after graduating from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Conservation. I relocated to the Manchester District in 2006 when I took a position mid-year teaching one class of 6th grade and several classes of 7th grade Science. I have been teaching 7th grade ever since. 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. I enjoy 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!
MTES - Jessica Brosan
Principal Remarks - Linda Waldron
It is my privilege to announce Jessica Brosnan as MTES Governor’s Educator of the Year. 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. She can always be counted on and will always get the job done right the first time.
Most staff utilize all district resources at their disposal. Mrs. Brosnan is that resource that staff look to for guidance and assurance. She approaches every educational or behavioral challenge presented by a student as a puzzle to be solved. She analyzes the situation, conducts research to find an appropriate solution and begins working toward that solution immediately. She is a true interventionist and specializes in early childhood, which is such an asset to us as our youngest students truly need her support.
Mrs. Brosnan wears many hats at MTES. She serves as a Basic Skills Interventionist, Reading Disability/Dyslexia Screener, Wilson Reading Fundations Facilitator and Trainer for the district. She is a member of many committees including our School Safety Team, Attendance, Tiered System, and Intervention and Referral Services committees. On her own time, she is the District Energy Consultant and coordinates all the behind the scenes workings of our town wide Holiday Drive, Kevin’s Kids.
Jessica’s dedication extends far past the educational realm. If we learn that a child needs a coat or a pair of sneakers, Jessica has already outfitted the child in an appropriate coat by day’s end. 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.
Mrs. Brosnan is a lifelong learner and doesn’t stop researching until she gets the answers to help our students. Her love of learning is continuing as she is seeking her second Master’s Degree in Educational Technology. What sets her apart is that she is a true leader among the staff without trying to be one. She demonstrates a spirit of compassion and professional inquiry daily. Our entire school community: students, parents, teachers, staff and administrators appreciate her calm manner, and her dedication to teaching and advocating for those who are struggling.
The Manchester Township School District is fortunate to have her expertise and leadership and this administrator could not imagine going to work each day without her at MTES. She is truly deserving of this honor.
Comments from Jessica Brosnan
I am so grateful for the recognition I’ve received in being named Teacher of the Year at MTES. 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 - Nicole Robinson
Principal Remarks - Nikki Mazur
It is my honor to recognize our Ridgeway Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Nicole Robinson. I am so pleased to tell you about this educator who is 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.
Mrs. Robinson teaches math to three classes of fifth 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.
Mrs. Robinson’s determination and insight allowed us to experience first hand 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.
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 Fifth 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.
Mrs. Robinson is the first to try new strategies such as Notice and Note, which has been highly effective to build comprehension skills. She continues to do an outstanding job finding ways to integrate Math with other subjects. She is also our resident expert at all things related to technology. She has been a great resource in creating and managing Google Classrooms. She also uses and shares many apps that have enhanced our instruction. Mrs. Robinson’s use of data to drive instruction is done with fidelity and excellence. Her grouping of students is consistently appropriate for all learners and this is demonstrated through the growth and performance of students.
Mrs. Robinson has an outstanding rapport with students, families and staff. In fact, time and time again, Mrs. Robinson hears from parents whose children have moved up to middle school. Her sense of humor, positive attitude, and willingness to go above and beyond to make learning meaningful is commendable and noted.
I am so proud of Mrs. Robinson’s accomplishments and I am so happy to have hired her over six years ago. Nicole, watching you grow has been so rewarding for me, and I know that your students appreciate all your efforts in creating an engaging and meaningful learning experience.
Comments from Mrs. Robinson
It is an honor to be recognized as Ridgeway Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year for 2022. I am a proud graduate of the Manchester Township School District. I began my teaching career 6 years ago at Ridgeway and have been there ever since. 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 states it perfectly: “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” 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 Ridgeway Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year.
Whiting Elementary School - Stefani Mercer
Principal Remarks - Evelyn Swift
Stefani Mercer’s time at Whiting School has been short, but 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.
She is known for sharing resources and strategies to enhance professional practices and her knowledge of best practices has served to enrich the educational lives of her students. She shared her knowledge from an informative professional development on zones of regulation at a faculty meeting, which the staff enthusiastically infused into their classroom strategies.
In addition, she 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 volunteered for school events like Barnes and Noble and spearheaded fundraisers like Y-ties. She has taught our Summer Jumpstart program, helping students prepare for the coming school year. At present, she is teaching STEAM to our K, 1 and 2 students, crafting hands-on lessons that engage students in meaningful experiments and projects. 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.
Most importantly, she is reflective and always striving to become a better educator. For these reasons and more, this year’s Governor's Educator of the Year Award recipient is Stefani Mercer.
Comments from Mrs. Mercer
I am so very humbled and grateful to be recognized as Teacher of the Year at Whiting Elementary School. My career in education began in 2008, teaching in New Orleans for four years before returning to my hometown in New Jersey to continue my educational career. Almost three years ago, I accepted my dream teaching position as a Learning and Language Disabilities teacher at Whiting Elementary School. I believe that teachers are in the business of helping to create lifelong memories by making connections through academics, social skills, and emotional learning. 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.
While being recognized as this year’s Teacher of the Year is a wonderful compliment from the educators that I work alongside, my biggest accomplishment as a teacher is when I see my students having those epiphanies, or “a-ha” moments as they realize how much they know by putting their learning into action, and when I see their confidence blooming. I believe those are the moments every educator lives for and wants to see as they continue their career in education.
Regional Day School - Michelle DeSantis
Principal Remarks - Lisa Michallis
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.
For the past eighteen 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.
Caring, kind, happy, resourceful, compassionate, and vibrant are terms colleagues use to describe Michelle. 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.
Ms. DeSantis is an active member of our school family and community. She serves on the Professional Development Committee and School Safety & Climate Team, coordinates Read Across America and School Spirit activities, and is a member of the Manchester Township PTA Executive Board. One of Michelle’s favorite volunteer activities is to assist Kevin’s Kids to brighten the holiday season for families in need.
Ms. Michelle DeSantis has a heart of blue and gold and has made a significant and positive difference in the lives of many children, families and members of our faculty over the years. She is truly deserving of the honor as the Regional Day School’s Teacher of the Year!
Comments from Ms. DeSantis
I am 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. My students persevere through rare syndromes and multiple disabilities. We enjoy our days learning together, laughing and working toward goals. I am honored to be chosen as the Regional Day School Teacher of the Year.