Barbara Glinka teaches 1st Grade at Van Derveer Elementary School in Somerville, and everyone she works with says she’s a valued member of the school community. Barbara works to meet the needs of all students who enter her classroom, and plans her lessons accordingly.
She spends a lot of time researching new ideas, and one example of this is when Barbara implemented flexible seating in her classroom. She went over various data and determined that her students would benefit from this non-traditional approach.
Barbara also works hard getting to know each student and a little bit about their families. The first few weeks of the school year can be a learning experience for everyone, so Barbara will ask her students to bring “Me Bags” to the classroom. These bags can consist of personal items or hand written notes that will give Barbara a glimpse into the “behind the scenes” family activities of her students.
She highlights class happenings and communicates with parents, and also works to be part of the school community. Barbara is never shy about wanting to help fellow teachers and staff, and serves on several committees.
For all of these reasons, Barbara Glinka is now a part of the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
Kindergarten/Special Education Teacher Nominated by: Dee Shober – Principal
Erica Viel-DeSimone is a Kindergarten/Special Education Teacher at Whiton Elementary School in Branchburg, and she’s one of those team players everyone wants to work with! She not only looks out for her grade level colleagues, but any staff member who needs support and mentorship. She’s always willing to help out with anything, including planning, technology issues, classroom management and organization.
She’s not only a reflective practitioner who cares deeply about her work, but also places herself in a leadership role. In this capacity, she works with administration to support her colleagues and provides a safe space for learning and growing. Erica prioritizes the whole child; She is often seen in the hallways offering students individualized attention, from facilitating different sensory activities to working through big feelings with Kindergarten students.
Erica puts deep thought into her lesson planning, and she understands the importance of differentiating instruction for a wide range of learning styles. Her ultimate goal is to help students grow at their own pace and as a result, her Kindergarten students grow tremendously.
Erica goes the extra mile and does many things, including tutoring, and she also attends attending special student events outside of school such as baseball games or family functions. She also works hard to build relationships with families, and has a well-known reputation to be in constant contact with parents and guardians, keeping the lines of communication between school and home completely open.
For all of these reasons, we welcome Erica into the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
Nominated by: Paul Lynch – Principal
Larry Roibal is the Art teacher at Dunellen High School and Lincoln Middle School. After being a professional artist for over 30 years, he decided to share his skills by teaching. In the 6 years he has been at Dunellen, he’stransformed the appearance of the school with the many murals he and his students have created. Every part of the school and every hallway has been impacted by his artistic ideas, from Athletics to Math, to World Language to English and Science.
Getting students involved in art and gaining a true appreciation for it has become a passion for Larry. He also leads a team of student artists to paint the sets for the fall play and spring musical. When it came to renovating the Art room a few years ago, he offered his expertise and designed a space that was conducive to artistic expression and allowed students to work together.
Larry has students create posters for the yearly Dunellen Harvest Festival, working with the community to publicize the event. In the classroom, he shares his own works as a professional artist and works with students who want to pursue Art in college. He adapts his lessons so that even those with less experience have a chance to try their hand with each medium and grow as students and artists.
Larry Roibal is loved and respected by everyone for his hard work and daily artistic contributions, and we’re happy to welcome him into the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
4th Grade Teacher Nominated by: Courtney Fredericks – Fellow Teacher
For the past 10 years, Samantha Abood has been teaching 4th grade at Triangle Elementary School in Hillsborough, and anyone who’s ever observed her in a classroom environment will tell you she makes every student feel loved, special, and capable in every way.
Her classroom is a well-oiled machine that holds students accountable for their school work in an effective and positive way. She prepares her 4th grade students for their transition to 5th grade by instilling independence and challenging each child to always do their best.
Samantha is a popular member of the staff, because in addition to sharing lesson plans and best practices, she also makes her fellow teachers laugh. Any challenge that’s presented is met with professionalism, a good attitude, and a little humor. She makes the lives of her students and coworkers better every day.
Former students come back to visit Samantha and update her on their academic progress, and every year there’s tons of birthday wishes that float across her email. Parents love Samantha for her willingness to keep them informed, or set up parent-teacher conferences.
It’s our pleasure to welcome Samantha Abood to the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
English/Language Arts Teacher Nominated by: Elizabeth Colucci, Fellow Teacher
Jennifer Austin teaches English/Language Arts at Bridgewater Raritan Middle School, and has been working in her chosen profession for over 21 years!
Jennifer is a strong advocate for children, and possesses the desire to make students feel capable of accomplishing anything. Many students struggle with the goal of becoming a more competent reader and writer, and Jennifer helps them make it happen. At the beginning of every school year, Jennifer spends a great deal of time talking about how “fake reading” will not be tolerated, and she reminds students on a daily basis that they can overcome any obstacle and develop an appreciation for literature.
She meets with students individually to determine what makes them “tick” and uses the information to help them select books and topics to write about. Jennifer has a knack for knowing her students and being able to locate books that will have them hooked. She keeps up to date with the newest titles and is constantly reading. If a student expresses a desire for a particular title, she will take it out of her public library or make the purchase herself.
Before Jennifer Austin was a teacher, she was a successful magazine editor. She left that career behind, got her teaching degree and credentials, and everyone at Bridgewater Raritan Middle School is happy to have her as part of their academic family.
it is a great honor to welcome Jennifer Austin to the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
Special Education Teacher
Nominated by: Jennifer Williams – LCTC (Child Studies)
Jillian Rice is a Special Education Teacher at Livingston Park Elementary School in North Brunswick, and works with some of the most challenging students with special needs. She treats these students as if they were her own, and takes into consideration every aspect of their lives.
She plans all programs around each students’ needs, including academic, life skills, socialization, and language, behavioral, and medical. Jillian stops at nothing to make sure their needs are met by all team members involved in their programming.
She is creative in her planning; considering all of their individual interests, and her love and passion for her job is visible to all who encounter her. She receives visits from former students, and is in constant contact with her students’ parents, helping them address the behavioral, medical, and life skills needed at home.
For all of these reasons, we welcome Jillian Rice into the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
Behavioral Disorder Teacher
Nominated by: Lisa McAlonie – School Nurse
Corin Duffy is a Behavioral Disorder Teacher at South Amboy Elementary School, and works with children who have various behavioral disorders, including ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and autism.
In this high stress classroom, she provides structure and encouragement to students that may otherwise never receive it. She understands when students lash out it’s a part of their genetic make-up and takes it in stride.
Corin embraces students and their difficulties and strives to help correct and promote positive behaviors that will benefit them now and as they get older. Her classroom is warm and welcoming, and she’s always educating herself on best practices to ensure student success.
We welcome Corin Duffy to the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
Math Teacher Nominated by: Donna Lenahan- Fellow Teacher
Jill Peluzzo is This year’s NJEA Community Spotlight recipient! And is a math teacher at Churchill Junior High School in Each Brunswick, and anyone you ask about her says she arrives at school each day with a smile and positive attitude. Jill believes that a kind word goes a long way, and positive reinforcement with her students is key to a successful teacher/student relationship.
She is dedicated to her students, lessons, and co-workers, and takes the time to master each course she teaches. Her lessons are innovative and passionate, and she constantly freshens up materials to make classes very student centered and technically updated.
Jill happily challenges the highest level students and breaks down lessons so that students are motivated to understand math with the lower levels. Not only does she create great lessons, she shares with her fellow colleagues, and will help by explaining new ways to instruct concepts.
Jill has an extensive knowledge in technology and mathematics, and is fluent is using apps on the computer and smart phone. She’s an excellent role model and goes above and beyond each day. Jill likes to attend school functions, and sometimes her three children will tag along. She makes herself available after the school day has ended for tutoring or parent conferences.
For all of these reasons and more, Jill Peluzzo is now a member of the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
Kerri-Ann Bresocnik is a Kindergarten Teacher at Harry S. Truman Elementary School in Parlin and is an integral part of the “Liv Like a Unicorn Foundation” in honor of her daughter, Kendall, who passed away at the young age of seven.
Despite the hardships she’s faced as a mother, she continues to be a dedicated educator who strives to always grow and be the best she can be for her family and students.
Kendall was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away a few short months later. Kerri-Ann keeps the memory of her daughter alive by participating in activities such as “Kendall Family Night” and 5K events to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Kerri-Ann is also involved in the “Truman School Family Reading” program and the “Learning Luau” events. In the past, she was a member of the Facilities & Sustainability District Committee. Kerri-Ann believes in giving back to the community, and is always trying to turn a negative into a positive and share her experience with others.
For all her activity involvement, and for caring deeply about student, school, and the community, we welcome Kerri-Ann Bresocnik to the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
Language Arts & Social Studies Teacher Nominated by: Michael Gaskell – Principal
For the past 25 years, Christine Connolly has been teaching Language Arts & Social Studies at Hammarkjold Middle School in East Brunswick and invests her time and energy into the livelihood of her students. What makes her stand out is her work in restorative service. She helps at-risk children and handles misbehavior in a non-punitive way. With her help, students are guided to use more constructive behavior that enables them to focus on the future and the positive, rather than the past and punishment.
When a student misbehaves, Christine reviews background of the infraction, and works through a constructive activity. She also builds important mentoring relations. Christine has found that many of these children don’t have a positive role model, so she builds and fosters a relationship. Christine is a caring adult and advocate and because of her kindness, determination and efforts, these students are succeeding.
For all her ongoing patience and efforts, we welcome Christine Connolly into the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
3rd Grade Teacher
Nominated by: Valentina Carleo – Principal
Ines Simoes is a 4th grade teacher at Stony Brook Elementary School in North Plainfield, and many of her fellow teachers and faculty say she’s a very supportive and loving teacher who gives her all both in and out of the classroom.
Ines works closely with each student to make sure they find success. She instills confidence and gets to know all students to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed.
Ines is available after the school day ends for one-on-one mentoring and is always eager to keep parents in the know about their child’s progress. She volunteers for many extra-curricular activities and organizes fundraisers.
Ines is known as a teacher with a big heart. When a student’s mother was in the hospital, she realized the family was struggling financially and organized a specific fundraiser to help the siblings of the student have clothes and food, and raised extra money for the family to pay bills.
Ines Simoes is an asset to Stony Brook Elementary School, and now she’s also a part of the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!
English Teacher Nominated by: Rob Porter – Literacy Coach
Jessica Bolognese is an English Teacher at Franklin Middle School – Sampson G. Smith Campus in Somerset and has been an educator for over 20 years!
Fellow teachers and staff say she has a real gift of building rapport with students, families, and colleagues. She serves as the team leader for the 7th grade language arts team, and organizes meetings and reviews the curriculum.
Jessica has attended professional development through the Rutgers Writing Workshop, NJEA Convention, and the TC Workshop on Reading and Writing so she can lead her team through the units of study. She is also the Title 1 coordinator for the Sampson G. Smith campus of Franklin Middle School, organizing and implementing important programs for students who need extra help with math and reading. Jessica is responsible for identifying students who can benefit from the program and then communicating with families to recruit students for this valuable academic intervention.
Jessica Bolognese has been part of the school community for years, attending countless school functions and organizing many fundraisers, such as “Dine to Donate” and clothing and supply drives. You’ll find her cheering on the sidelines at school sporting events and helping with school plays. For all of these reasons, she’s now a part of the 2023 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!