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Terrific Teachers
Recognizing 22 incredible teachers whose infectious passion for education encourages students to give their all and fall in love with learning.

by Edited By Chelsea Valcourt and Madeleine Maccar

Teachers are tasked with one of the most important responsibilities in the future of our society—educating and preparing the next generation of workers, voters and leaders. Often asked to juggle dozens of responsibilities, the life of an educator can be a hectic one. That doesn’t stop these “super teachers” from putting their all into their jobs and relaying their passions to their students. These educators go above and beyond to spread the love of learning and encourage their students to dream big.


Leonard Barker
Elementary, Parkway Elementary School
While many students and educators alike struggled with the pandemic’s forced pivot into online learning, Barker worked hard to ensure a smooth transition. In an effort to make an already difficult time better for his students, Barker set about creating an inclusive, respectful and inviting virtual learning environment for everyone. He accomplished this by ensuring each student felt connected and adjusting lessons to fit the individual needs of each student.

Jamie Bottino
Mathematics, Paul VI High School
In addition to her role as an educator, Bottino dedicates outside-the-classroom time to Paul VI students as both the dance team’s coach and director of the Paul VI Peer Mentorship Program. This in-school program empowers upperclassmen to help the freshmen acclimate to their new high school. Peer mentors are chosen through a rigorous selection and training process, allowing them to work effectively and responsibly with the newest members of the school community. Bottino is there for weekly meetings throughout the first academic quarter, where peer mentors use exercises and instruction to provide practical strategies and encouragement that help freshmen thrive in their new academic home.

Kimberly Coffield
Mathematics, Thomas E. Harrington Middle School
Coffield has been helping students both understand and excel with their mathematics studies for more than 30 years. With a keen respect for the fact that each child learns differently, Coffield ensures her students’ success by infusing lesson plans with multiple approaches to education. She recognizes the importance of collaboration in academic settings and works symbiotically with her fellow teachers. She is also a helpful resource to her students and has led the eighth grade students on their field trip for many years. Recently, Coffield was honored as the 2023-24 Governor’s Educator of the Year for Thomas E. Harrington Middle School.

Christina Colangelo
Mathematics, Lenape High School
Colangelo approaches each class with endless energy, creative and engaging lessons, patience, support and an unfailingly positive attitude. She has a way of incorporating prior knowledge and mathematical magic to enlighten and empower her students. Her influence on the Lenape student body does not end at her hallway door: She is an extremely active member of the faculty who has taken on the additional roles of class advisor, National Honor Society advisor and head coach for the girls lacrosse team. Through these outlets, Colangelo brings her signature enthusiasm, making even more connections and inspiring students to recognize the impacts they can have upon not only their peers, but also their wider community.

Rebecca Ellis
Technology, Seneca High School
Ellis takes the time to get to know what her students need and creates an atmosphere where they feel both comfortable and valued. She supplements that with opportunities to learn about how they can support their families beyond high school in the automotive field. Ellis is additionally responsible for the genesis and continued success of the automotive program at Seneca, having worked hard to make sure it was designed to be practical and effective at producing automotive technicians. Seneca is proud to count her as one of the best teachers in the school.

Margaret Fanourgakis
Physical Education, Shawnee High School
Fanourgakis, who has been named Shawnee’s Teacher of the Year, is fondly regarded as “Mrs. Fan” throughout the halls of Shawnee. The proud alumna of Shawnee’s Class of 1978 is now in her 42nd year of teaching health and physical education, and is also the current head girls volleyball coach, assistant boys volleyball coach, student council advisor, Blue Crew advisor and Disney trip chaperone. Principal Matthew Campbell says, “Margaret embodies the life and culture of Shawnee in a way that inspires a strong sense of tradition and roots for all students.  Margaret attends games and events all year long, always supporting and encouraging students to embrace their years at Shawnee. This school and community are so fortunate to have such a wonderful and caring educator who gives so selflessly of her time and talents.”

Melissa Farrow
Mathematics, Cherokee High School
Farrow has a passion for mathematics, and it shows in her classes. She has an innate ability to make complex concepts accessible and engaging while showing remarkable versatility in meeting the diverse needs of her students. She voluntarily grades AP calculus exams to gain a better understanding of expectations, ensuring that her students transition from math hesitancy to math mastery. Farrow is also the coach of Cherokee’s successful math team. Beyond her professional accomplishments, she is widely lauded as a compassionate mentor and respected leader within the math department, school and district, consistently fostering a culture of collaboration and excellence.

Kathleen Goffredi
Elementary, Whitehall Elementary School
Goffredi is a second grade teacher at Whitehall Elementary School and has been a tremendous force in the second grade co-teach classroom. She consistently develops and implements fun and effective lessons that appeal to her diverse students. Her calm demeanor, unwavering care, compassion and wealth of knowledge give her students a top-notch education every school year. Goffredi and her co-teacher work diligently to ensure that every child learns and progresses toward mastery of concepts and skills.

Mark Housel
Physical Education, Beeler Elementary School
Housel is a dedicated teacher who consistently goes above and beyond in all his pedagogical pursuits. His innovative approach to teaching and learning has enriched both Beeler and the Evesham community for decades, and Housel’s empathetic nature is evident in his interactions with students and staff. He is an active proponent of inclusive environments for all, and he celebrates diversity while ensuring that every voice is not only heard but also respected. He has a knack for making complex concepts more understandable through creative teaching methods that captivate his students—and his colleagues, too. Housel is an exceptional educator and mentor who brings pride to his school, as well as to the community at large.

Marielaina Jones
Elementary, Radix Elementary School
Dedicated, knowledgeable, nurturing and patient all describe Jones’ incredible professional nature. As an educator committed to the growth of her students both academically and social-emotionally, Jones devotes countless hours to her craft and classes. She establishes a positive, engaging learning environment where young pupils establish an early love of learning. Jones is a supportive colleague, a mentor to aspiring teachers and is always willing to lend a hand to someone in need.

Kate Maloney
Special Education, Sequoia Alternative Program
Maloney is a highly accomplished educator who consistently exhibits exemplary teaching practices and is a role model for her colleagues by personifying the highest standards of excellence, dedication and passion. Maloney’s positive energy, strong work ethic and unwavering commitment to her profession are genuinely inspiring and infectious to her colleagues. Her positive influence extends far beyond the classroom and scheduled school day, as evidenced by her active participation in volunteer organizations such as Special Olympics, Unified Basketball and Pride Paws. Maloney’s love and dedication to both her students and her program provide countless opportunities for students to flourish and succeed.

Courtney McBride
Elementary, Fleetwood Elementary School
With a dedication to her duty as an educator, McBride exhibits a high degree of professionalism both in her classroom and beyond it. McBride is known and cherished by the school community for her positive attitude and impressive work ethic. These traits can be seen throughout her interactions with colleagues, parents and students, as well as on display in her other professional duties. McBride is a lifetime learner who continues to look for ways to enhance and bolster her own knowledge and career, and was also recently named Fleetwood Elementary’s Teacher of the Year.

Allison McGuire
Kindergarten, Oak Knoll Elementary School
McGuire is a passionate, dedicated kindergarten teacher who creates a cultivating and engaging educational environment for her students. She takes the time to get to know each child’s learning styles, interests and strengths, allowing her to tailor her lessons and activities accordingly. This personalized approach ensures that every student feels valued and supported in their learning journey. She incorporates hands-on activities, interactive games and technology to make learning more fun and memorable. Her students are actively engaged in the classroom, eagerly participating in discussions and enthusiastically taking on challenges. 

Joya Oasin
Spanish, Camden Catholic High School
Oasin, a longtime Spanish teacher, is also the chair of Camden Catholic High School’s (CCHS’s) world language department. She fosters a culture of acceptance and understanding in all of her lessons, as well as encouraging students to learn about not only Spanish and Latino cultures, but also their peers’ and classmates’ cultural heritages, traditions and languages. Through her leadership of the CCHS St. Martin de Porres Society, Oasin gives students the opportunity to celebrate their cultures through events and discussions, and to host service projects that make real impacts in our communities. Oasin leads the CCHS international trips each year and is a student government moderator as well.

Matthew O’Toole
Health and Physical Education, Holly Glen Elementary School
O’Toole constantly thinks of activities and programs to help students grow socially, emotionally and academically. Students see him as a wealth of knowledge and look up to him as a true leader. With a focus on cooperation and fitness, each day students love going to P.E. O’Toole has taught many children to gain confidence in themselves as learners, as he has a way of making every student feel included, involved and valued. O’Toole is an integral part of Holly Glen whose contributions exceed the classroom as a club advisor and mentor who organizes and assists with multiple school events throughout the year.

Anne-Marie Reber
Mathematics, Williamstown Middle School
Reber’s interactions with students showcase just how well she embodies all the qualities that passionate educators possess, as she demonstrates consistent kindness, thoughtfulness and especially empathy. She engages students with innovative lessons and creates a safe, enjoyable learning environment that gets students excited for her class. Reber also volunteers her time to various clubs and extracurricular activities. She is always willing to lend a hand and is admired by colleagues and students alike.

Shannon Sonnie
Elementary, Hillside Elementary School
Sonnie is described as the very definition of what the Governor’s Educator of the Year honors: a teacher truly dedicated to and exceptionally adept in the profession. At Hillside, Sonnie is regarded as a leader and a quick learner, zeroing in on students’ needs and showing her colleagues new ways of teaching math concepts. One of the qualities her peers find most admirable is her belief in addressing the needs of the whole child: Sonnie has the unique ability to inspire students through her creative and innovative approaches, which parents have also noted.

Daniel Torcasio
Social Studies, Williamstown High School
Torcasio radiates enthusiasm in the classroom, bringing innovation and excitement. He works to create genuine connections with his students—making him a familiar and popular face around Williamstown High. His quick jokes, ability to change course to adapt to individual classes’ needs and engaging classroom projects make attending his classes something students often look forward to. His commitment to his students doesn’t just end at the door of the classroom, however, as Torcasio also serves as a coach, class advisor and consistently volunteers for various school events. He invests not just time, but his heart and soul into the well-being and success of the school community.

Kristine Vaughan
Special Education, Springville Elementary School
A respected special education teacher and an exceptional educator, Vaughan is an asset to Springville Elementary and its special education program. She strives to both support the whole child and cater to their academic and social needs, encouraging and empowering her young pupils to be the best versions of themselves. A model of acceptance and inclusion, Vaughan pushes her students to reach their full potential regardless of their race, abilities, gender or background. Vaughan delights in being a part of her community and improving her own abilities, and can often be found attending workshops and seminars, preparing lesson plans and assisting with PTO events.

Lauren Younglove
Elementary, Larchmont Elementary School
Younglove starts the day with a smile on her face as she enthusiastically greets each student who walks through her door—a shining example of Larchmont’s school expectations of being respectful, kind and responsible. She encourages her students to problem solve and persevere when faced with academic, social or emotional challenges. An advocate for her students and their families alike, Younglove creates an open and transparent channel of communication to ensure her ability to meet student’s needs. In addition, Younglove pays close attention to her class’ progress and tailors her teaching methods in order to best match the educational needs of her students so that they can all strive to be the best they can.

Dawn Yushchak
Elementary, Countryside Elementary
An expert in early childhood education, Yushchak has taught kindergarten through third grade students during the course of her over-30-year career. She strives to make her classroom one of positivity, where students are unafraid to make mistakes and work to learn from them. She is actively involved in her students’ education and constantly communicates with parents about their children’s progress and needs. Yushchak’s openness extends to her colleagues as she is unafraid to reach out for help or additional resources and mentors other teachers in return. She has served as an after-school tutor, teaches the Summer Learning Program and is engaged in a Grandpal program that pairs students with seniors in the community for letter writing and visits.

Colleen Zanger
Library Media Specialist, Mount Laurel Hartford School
Zanger’s impact on the reading and literacy culture at Mount Laurel Hartford should not be understated. Thanks to her engaging teaching methods, students have consistently demonstrated improved research skills, information literacy and a heightened appreciation for literature. Her teaching benefits students and teachers alike as she acts as a resource in preparing students for the challenges they will face in our tech-driven world.