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Point Pleasant Boro School District Announces Governor’s Teachers of the Year

Written by Jacquelyn Goss, Point Pleasant Boro Schools

Educators are charged with the delicate task of shaping the future. They are the architects of student achievement, committing countless hours and substantial resources to ensure their students’ success in the classroom and beyond. Teachers have a profound influence on their students and have the capacity to make their lives - and by extension the world - better.

The Point Pleasant Borough School District believes that teachers’ efforts should be recognized and applauded.  And at a time when those in the teaching profession are once again the focus of negative political rhetoric, it has become more important than ever to acknowledge the contributions made by exceptional teachers every day, both in- and out- of the classroom.

“Recognizing exemplary teaching serves as a motivational tool for our staff, fostering a drive for professional success,“ said Superintendent of Schools Vincent S. Smith. “Although our schools have a number of district-specific recognition programs for both staff and students, it is always an honor to be acknowledged by outside organizations.“

According to the Superintendent, over the past few years, district teachers have earned a number of prestigious awards, like the Milken Family Foundation’s Educator of the Year Award, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching, Princeton University’s Distinguished Teacher Award, and the Masonic Fraternity’s New Jersey’s Educator of the Year Award. 

“These awards honor our district and serve as a testament to the superior quality of our schools’ education professionals,” said the Superintendent.

On Monday, March 17, the list of recent awards bestowed on Point Pleasant Borough teachers grew by four as Superintendent Smith, along with his fellow Central Administrators, made the rounds to the district’s four schools to announce the recipients of the 2014 Governor’s Teacher Recognition Award, presenting each of the shocked recipients with a bouquet of flowers commemorating their selection for the prestigious award.

For their outstanding efforts on behalf of the students of Point Pleasant Borough Phyllis Thomson from Point Pleasant Borough High School, Lynn Thompson from Memorial Middle School, Candace Ross from Nellie Bennett Elementary School and Alicia Scalabrini from Ocean Road Elementary School were named the district’s 2014 Governor’s Teachers of the Year.

Developed in 1985, the Governor's Teacher Program acknowledges teachers who exhibit outstanding performance. The criteria for selection include use of effective instructional techniques & methods, establishment of a productive classroom climate and rapport with students and development of feelings of self-worth and love of learning in students.

”The Governor’s Teacher Recognition Program provides an excellent opportunity for school systems and their communities to recognize exemplary teaching,” said Superintendent Smith. “We are so fortunate that there are so many exceptional teachers in our district, although it is becoming increasingly more difficult to narrow it down to just one winner per school as the list of nominees continues to grow.”

Initially nominated by parents and fellow staff members, the recipients of the Governor's Teacher Award are selected by a panel of district administrators, teachers, parents and community members.

In making their selection, the committee identified the four teachers for their use of creativity, innovation and efficiency in the classroom and their ability to increase student achievement by fostering a learning-focused environment.

After 27 years of working as a hairdresser, a shop owner and a vocational education teacher, Phyllis Thomson decided she needed a change. She went back to school, earning her degree in Special Education from Georgian Court University in 2007.  Not long thereafter, Mrs. Thomson began teaching the newly-created Life Skills Program for students with multiple disabilities at Point Pleasant Borough High School, where she has remained ever since, helping to shape the program into a successful, multi-faceted program that blends academic instruction with vocational sufficiency training preparing multiply disabled students for independent life. In just a few short years, Mrs. Thomson has been the recipient of the 24th Annual School Leader Award from the New Jersey School Boards Association as well as Teacher Who Rocks Award from radio station WDHA-FM. Mrs. Thomson is an active member of the Point Pleasant Elks and volunteers as a Special Olympics coach.

Mrs. Thomson’s fellow Georgian Court grad, Lynn Thompson (no relation) has been teaching Language Arts for Memorial Middle School’s eighth grade students for the past 12 years, out of a teaching career that spans a total of sixteen years, during which time she has taught Language Arts to students in grades five through eight. In 2004, Mrs. Thompson supplemented her dual Bachelors Degrees – in English and Elementary Education – with a Masters Degree in Instructional Technology, also from Georgian Court. Since obtaining her advanced degree, Mrs. Thompson has helped to integrate technology into her own instruction while also facilitating district-level workshops to share best practices with her fellow teachers. She is currently serving on the Common Core Implementation Team, helping to guide the transition to the new curriculum standards, which will take place next year. And she is also working toward obtaining her supervisor’s certification at Kean University.

A self-professed “late bloomer,” Nellie F. Bennett Elementary School Teacher Candace Ross heard her calling to become a teacher later in life. Her first foray into the classroom came as a paraprofessional in an elementary contained-classroom for students with special needs. She credits the teacher in that classroom – Noreen Beirne – with inspiring her to return to school to pursue her own teaching certification.

Ms. Beirne also served as Mrs. Ross’s mentor when she embarked on a journey to realize her goal of becoming a teacher. A goal she accomplished in 1997, when she accepted her first teaching assignment with the Point Pleasant Borough School District. For the past 17 years, Mrs. Ross has taught Special Education in Point Pleasant Schools, serving in many different capacities. Currently, she teaches Special Education at Nellie Bennett in the fifth grade classroom she shares with Mrs. Jillian Morris.

Since 1999 Alicia Scalabrini has been helping her students at Ocean Road Elementary School make their marks on the world and teaching them how to shine by building on the lessons instilled in her by the very teacher who inspired her to become a teacher when she was just a fourth grader. This teacher, who encouraged her to always strive to achieve her personal best, cultivated Mrs. Scalabrini’s teaching ambitions, which were solidified years later, when she read “Three Letters from Teddy,” which tells the story of the profound influence one teacher had on her troubled young student. It was then that Mrs. Scalabrini knew that she “wanted to be the teacher who believes in her students and helps them believe they can do anything.” After graduating from Villanova University in 1997, Mrs. Scalabrini moved to Point Pleasant, New Jersey and began teaching at Ocean Road Elementary School, where she has remained ever since. Mrs. Scalabrini currently teaches second grade.

“Teaching excellence is one of the most significant factors impacting student achievement and the quality of our schools,” added Superintendent Smith. “These four teachers have consistently demonstrated superior teaching skills thus enabling student success, and I offer my wholehearted congratulations to each of them for this achievement.”

Visit www.pointpleasant.k12.nj.us for more about Point Pleasant Borough Schools.

PointGirl1 May 14, 2014 at 02:18 PM
So happy to know my daughter is in great hands at Nellie Bennett. Point Boro schools are really great.
sargenthartman May 14, 2014 at 03:55 PM
Attention Doctor Ira Bombay. This is what you are paying so much money for and what you left Fairfax for. Enjoy. Cheers!
Rick Ricky May 14, 2014 at 08:02 PM
Some Teachers do deserve to be recognized. I truly hope these teachers did and it wasn't a political pick. I am a little tired of the shows and grandstanding about schools that are not even close to what their claims and pretend to be. There is a reason for the negative political rhetoric. Administration and Teachers need to step up and start to do their jobs. Not just for some of the kids but for all the kids and I know for sure that's not happening.
Helen May 15, 2014 at 11:20 AM
I saved a newspaper article from 1986 when I was named Point Pleasant Teacher of the Year. I retired after teaching over 30 years in New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland. It was a fantastic career.
Maggie Hart-Zuhowski May 15, 2014 at 02:57 PM
Congrats to all the AMAZING teachers!

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