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We are proud to welcome the following teachers to the FOX Sports Radio New Jersey Teachers Who Make Magic Class of 2024!

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  • Stephan Bennett

    Special Education Teacher
    Nominated by:  Linda Perry – Instructional Paraprofessional

    Stephan Bennett has been a Special Education Teacher for over 20 years, and currently teaches 4th and 5th graders in the Resource Room at Conerly Road School in Somerset.   Fellow teachers and parents are amazed at Stephan’s teaching methods and watch year after year as students move from the resource room to inclusive classrooms, and many wind up in the Top 5 of their class!

    Stephan helps run the Conerly Road School’s PBIS Fundraising program that includes the “school store,” and he also created a program called “Joey’s Place” which is a special recess activity where students can earn access to fun and creative opportunities.

    Stephan will frequently be found giving up his lunch break to help a student with anything they ask about, from personal issues to math problems.  His caring nature and outstanding teaching abilities are why so many students at Conerly Road School are thriving, and this is why Stephan Bennett is being included in the 2024 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!

  • Vivian Acuna-Francisco

    Art Teacher
    Nominated by: Paul Curto – School Social Worker at Iselin Middle School

    Vivian Acuna-Francisco is this year’s NJEA Community Service Spotlight recipient! She’s an Art Teacher at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Iselin and has been working in her chosen profession for over 10 years!

    She runs the art club where students can create their own designs that are showcased throughout the school and in Woodbridge Township, she’s the director of “Senior Play Sales” and her role is not only to help students sell tickets, but the creation of sets used on stage, and Vivian is the co-chair of the “Excuse the Interruption” YouTube series where students get to discuss news and events happening at the school.

    She not only participates in extracurricular activities within the school but outside as well.  For example, Vivian owns “The Francisco Family Farm” and has allowed children to visit and be surrounded by animals and how to care for them.  She also participates in an organization called VIA PAL which is a non-profit that helps cancer warriors, and their families raise money through events like charity Bike Rides, blood drives and cultural festivals.

    Vivian is compassionate, ambitious, and cheerful. Ask any student or fellow teacher, and they’ll tell you she makes learning fun and memorable.  We are happy to welcome Vivian Acuna-Francisco to the “2024 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!”

  • Adriana Weighart

    Speech Teacher
    Nominated by: Dee Shober – Principal at Whiton Elementary School

    Adriana Weighart is a speech teacher who has been a part of Whiton Elementary School in Neshanic Station since 2011! As a speech teacher, Adriana has a caseload of students; however, she considers all the school’s students as her own.

    She works with individual teachers so she can provide strategies and tools, so all students are successful and shares her techniques with families because she knows how important communication is in any type of environment.

    Adriana is bilingual and helps out when a staff member or teacher is trying to communicate with parents. She does so willingly, giving up her own prep or lunchtime to make sure that all families feel comfortable and understand what is being shared with them.

    For several years in a row, Adriana has been a formal mentor to new speech teachers to help them transition into their positions.  New staff members feel relieved to know they can go to Adriana with any questions or help with lesson plans.

    For all these reasons, we’re happy to welcome Adriana Weighart to the “2024 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!”

  • Patricia Bodak

    Biology Teacher
    Nominated by: Paul Lynch – Principal at Dunellen High School

    For the past 12 years, Patricia Bodak has been a Biology teacher at Dunellen High School.  She’s taught all levels of Biology, particularly the Advanced Placement class, where students have demonstrated great success on the AP exam with most receiving college credit at the end of the course.

    Patricia displays a high level of creativity in her lessons and utilizes the technological resources available to her. She has made science a hands-on experience, creating many interactive learning opportunities. She works hard to get the students to see the applications behind the science and how the concepts affect their daily lives. She has learned how to challenge her students, giving them difficult work to complete, while demonstrating her compassion and interest in their lives.

    While some students enter her class with trepidation about her reputation, by the end of the year, they appreciate the extent to which they have been challenged and love her caring nature. When it came to renovating the Science rooms a few years ago, she offered her expertise to help design classroom spaces that were conducive to students working together for lab activities and assignments. Outside the classroom, Patricia has been the adviser of regular classes and the Biology Club and is a regular tutor for students in the afterschool Homework Help Center.

    For all these reasons, we’re happy to welcome Patricia Bodak to the “2024 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!”

  • Sonia Pereira

    8th Grade Language Arts Teacher
    Nominated by: Chris Derflinger – Vice Principal Branchburg Central Middle School

    Sonia Pereira teaches 8th grade Language Arts at Branchburg Central Middle School and goes above and beyond for her students!  She holds them to high standards while using her humor and connections with individual students to help them continuously soar in their skills and creativity. She is an important part of the language arts department at BCMS, often collaborating with colleagues to ensure that the programs function efficiently and deliberately. When she takes the time to help struggling students at Guided Study (afterschool program), she always supports the teacher’s vision while finding ways to put her own spin to help children find success.

    She has an awesome personality and has an incredible way of connecting with students that is meaningful and special.  This is why she’s now a “Techer Who Makes Magic!”

  • Ernest Roger Weiss

    Engineering Teacher
    Nominated by: Bob Goldman – Teacher at North Brunswick Township High School

    Ernest Roger Weiss has been in his chosen profession of education for over 25 years, and currently teaches engineering at North Brunswick Township High School.

    He’s extremely dedicated and always looking for new ways to bring knowledge to his students. He teaches them about engineering and brings in many electronic devices for his students to take apart so they can learn about reverse engineering.

    He often gives up his free periods to provide more instruction and knowledge for his students and is an expert with the 3d printer!  He’s made parts, some of which are no longer being manufactured, and the school is grateful because he saves them money!   He’s taught his students how to use the router table and the 3D printer as well.

    He was a robotics coach for ten years and was one of the coaches on the 2012 world championship team, “Raider Robotix.”

  • Danielle LoCascio

    Special Education Teacher
    Nominated by: Kristen Kries – Principal Stony Brook School

    Danielle LoCascio is a Special Education Teacher at Stony Brook School in Branchburg and has been teaching for over 13 years!  Students, colleagues, and parents always remark about her beautiful smile, the passion she has for her chosen profession, and the positivity and unique teaching methods she brings to her classroom.   She sees the upside in all situations and works to help her students do the same.

    Danielle wants her students to see that one challenging moment does not define them or set the course for their day. She cares deeply for all members of the school’s community and serves as a mentor and guide to new staff members. She is an excellent communicator and keeps the families of her students informed of any obstacles that arise but more importantly makes sure parents and guardians are aware of student success.

    Danielle’s students show extraordinary growth within her classroom, and she makes sure to work with students on their individual areas of need. Danielle is always looking for new ideas, resources, and strategies to best meet the needs of her students and once she secures these resources, she shares them with her colleagues. Danielle wants her students to excel in the classroom and beyond, and this is why she’s now in the 2024 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!

  • Colleen Nejmeh

    5th Grade Teacher
    Nominated by: Madison Hill – 5th Grade Teacher Stony Brook School

    Colleen Nejmeh has been teaching for over 19 years, and currently works at Stony Brook School in Branchburg educating 5th graders.  If you ever met Colleen, you wouldn’t need a shot of morning caffeine to start your day, because she arrives at school each day with a contagious smile and positive energy. From dance routines to spontaneous role playing, and everything in between, Colleen is up for anything to ensure the students are having fun and learning.  Colleen works exceptionally hard to be the best version of herself for her students and co-workers. She not only comes into school early, but she also stays late to better prepare and plan for her students.

    Colleen also makes time to be active on several school committees, advising clubs and enrichment programs and takes part in extracurricular activities such as the “DIY Up-cycled Crafts and Jewelry” club. In this club, she taught students how to create pieces of jewelry from things you’d never think to use!   She also oversees enrichment programs during the summer months such as “Creating a Pollinator Garden” and “Fairy Tale Reform School.” She also participates in the Extended School Year program (ESY) where she continues to work with students with disabilities and helps them prepare for the next school year. It is challenging to get students interested in coming to school over the summer, so to combat this, Colleen creates themes like “Restaurant Week” to get the students excited.

  • Jarrett Lampkin

    7th Grade Teacher
    Nominated by: Doreen Consulmagno – Student Assistance Counselor at Sayreville Middle School

    Jarrett Lampkin teaches the Behavioral Disabilities class at Sayreville Middle School, and each day he meets the needs and challenges of working with some difficult children.

    He has a unique talent to reach the most difficult child and adolescent. His demeanor is calm, but he’s able to command respect and maintain boundaries. He listens to the concerns of both students and staff, and anyone who’s worked with him says he can make others feel heard just by being in their presence.

    Jarrett is the teacher everyone looks to for out of the box ideas. His connection with the students is electric, and he easily gains their trust.  Students and staff are drawn to Jarrett’s positive energy and outlook. He doesn’t give up on his colleagues, himself, or any child he meets, and this is why he’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • Sarah Gunia

    PE & Health Teacher
    Nominated by: Keith Lane – PE Teacher at East Brunswick High School

    Sarah Gunia is a Phys Ed and Health Teacher at East Brunswick High School, and anyone who encounters her says she’s exceptional at what she does!  She teaches regular and adaptive Phys Ed and health classes. One of her strengths is her ability to innovate. She constantly researches ideas and always strives to make her classes interesting, fun, and productive.

    Sarah’s lessons with the adaptive classes include a variety of games and activities using all types of equipment including a big screen projector and music. Without knowing it her students get a great workout while learning skills and having fun. One lesson with the adaptive class included 10 students with their own little station consisting of a large playground ball on top of a bucket and their own drumsticks, and they were following a workout video on the big screen while creating their own music. Her health and Phys Ed classes are anything but normal or boring; she strives to make them interesting, innovative, and fun.

    Sarah is the JV girls’ volleyball coach and JV girls’ softball coach. She also works at volleyball and softball camps within the community during the summer.  For all these reasons and more, Sarah Gunia is now in the 2024 Class of Teachers Who Make Magic!

  • Bianca Rodriguez

    3rd Grade Math Teacher
    Nominated by: Saiju Patel – Math Coach at Elizabeth Avenue School 

    Bianca Rodriguez teaches 3rd Grade Math at Elizabeth Avenue School in Somerset, and fellow staff members describe her as dynamic, creative, and a fashionista! She’s a valued member of the school community who works hard to meet the needs of students on an academic, social, and emotional level.  Every student that enters Bianca’s classroom feels her warmth and love right away. She is at her door every morning greeting her students with a fist bump or a hug!

    Bianca plans lessons around her students’ identities and makes them cultural or interest based.  She strives to make connections with every student in her classroom and holds students accountable for their work in a positive way using incentives, class points, and positive phone calls to parents.  She instills independence and challenges each child to always do their best.  She breaks down lessons for the students who are struggling and challenges her highest-level students through different activities.

    Bianca is a part of the Title 1 Family Engagement committee where she works with a team of other staff members to plan different events at Elizabeth Avenue School. She is also trained in Parenting Partners and has worked with her team to create 6 recurring family events!  Her classroom is visually appealing and encourages students to take risks, persevere, and flourish.   For all these reasons and more, Bianca Rodriguez is now in the 2024 Class of Teachers who Make Magic!

  • Maria Caeiro

    Paraprofessional
    Nominated by: Lindsay Blevins – Special Education Teacher at Irving Primary School

    Maria Caeiro has been working in her chosen field of education for over 10 years and is currently a paraprofessional in a kindergarten and first grade pullout room for special education students at Irving Primary School.  Students and teachers rely on her expertise, and many say they couldn’t do what they do without her.

    She is a fast learner and is always able to pick up various techniques quickly.   She never hesitates to help and has formed meaningful relationships with students. If there’s a moment where the room teacher needs to step away, she will quickly pick up a book and read to the class until the teacher returns. She promotes a mutual love for one another through her compassion and thoughtfulness and provides great morale for all staff and students.

    For all these reasons, Maria is now an ESP Who Makes Magic!

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