When the pandemic came crashing in last March, South Jersey school districts had little time to waste as they quickly adapted to the new reality of remote learning. After spending the summer months fine tuning plans for how to better approach the uncertainty surrounding this school year, there are still challenges to deal with even as schools slowly start to creep back to normal. And though it may not be ideal, during the pandemic there have been countless teachers who have shown their resiliency amidst the challenges and found creative ways to stay connected with their students even when they can’t all be in the classroom together. South Jersey Magazine reached out to local schools to find out which teachers they feel continuously go above and beyond and the names below represent some of the region’s best.
Mount Laurel Hartford School
A fifth- and sixth-grade life skills teacher in the autism program, Montegary aims to have students leave the classroom with the tools to help them become more confident, independent and productive citizens as they grow older. Not only does she work with them in the classroom, but she also takes her students on field trips within the community to help give them real-life experiences such as teaching them how to order from a menu or interact with a sales associate when making a purchase.
Washington Township High School
Mason was the Gloucester County Teacher of the Year in 2019 whose work has also been recognized by former Gov. Chris Christie. The social studies teacher has served as the advisor for the school’s student council since 2010 and is a member of several school organizations including the school’s technology advisory board as well as the No Place for Hate and District Equity committees. Mason also lends her time as a practicum advisor for student teachers from Rowan University, Rutgers University and Rowan College of Gloucester County.
Haddonfield Memorial High School
Rodriguez is a Spanish instructor who is fiercely committed to seeing her students grow in and out of the classroom. For her, this means recognizing the importance of not only teaching them how to speak the language, but also the impact of fully embracing the culture with open arms.
With unique projects that challenger her pupils to explore pressing issues in Spanish speaking countries, she is able to open their eyes to the world around them while imparting important lessons on diversity.
Cherry Hill Public School
Esposito has over 20 years of experience as a teacher. She’s known for being thoughtful, kind and calm. Those traits make her an extraordinary technology coach for grades K-12. Her role in the school became paramount due to the pandemic. Her calm personality helps classroom teachers adapt to remote and hybrid learning.
Wedgwood Elementary School
Seymour’s personality consists of trying to make everyone around her better, so she doesn’t just strive to get the most out of her students, but her co-workers as well. Her lesson plans utilize instructional strategies that pull from the best practices while also embracing emerging trends in an effort to give her students a varied approach to learning. In her classrooms, mistakes are used to show the opportunities to learn and she further fosters growth by giving students a voice to share their thoughts and ideas.
VAN ZANT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
This first-grade teacher is well known for going the extra mile—quite literally as she recently spent her lunch break driving to a student’s house to drop off special activities so the child didn’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in the day’s lesson. She favors mixing fun with engaging activities to spark creativity and inspire a love for learning that helps shape these young minds for many years to come.
If you know of a teacher in South Jersey that is worthy of being recognized, we’d love to hear more about them. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us more.
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