Fifteen outstanding educators were honored by the Montville Township Board of Education in January 2021. The LIVE virtual presentation provided an opportunity for audience members from around the globe to attend the annual ceremony.
Those recognized were selected by their peers, and named as Teachers of the Year, Educational Services Professionals of the Year and, at the high school level, the Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teacher of the Year.
“Tonight is one of the highlights of the year,” said Montville Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. René Rovtar.
“I wish that we were all here,” Rovtar noted, citing the pandemic as the need for a virtual meeting. “I wish that we could shake your hands personally – I know that is one of the things that the board members truly enjoy; to see you in-person and to congratulate you.”
More than 300 watched the LIVE stream of the Montville Board of Education event on January 19, 2021. Nearly 100 more have watched in the days since the event.
“To be selected as a representative of your school is a pinnacle moment in a teacher’s career,” Rovtar added. “We are very blessed in Montville to have a wonderful faculty. To have this honor, to be selected by your peers, to be the best of the best; it is really a wonderful recognition.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Montville Township Board of Education meetings have been streamed LIVE on the district’s YouTube channel since March of 2020. Additionally, members of the community can log in to a Zoom webinar if they wish to participate in the meeting. As has been the standard for more than a decade, following every Montville Township BOE meeting, each meeting is also posted to the Montville Township Board of Education Meetings YouTube Channel.
The 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year for Montville Township Public Schools are:
Cedar Hill Elementary School - Kim Kao has been in Montville for the past 5 years. She is currently a 2nd grade teacher at Cedar Hill. Kao was also featured in a NJEA Distance Learning segment in the spring of 2020 for her innovative and effective transition to distance learning and an interactive virtual classroom.
Hilldale Elementary School - Susan McKenzie Petsch has worked in Montville for 15 years as a special education teacher and has been in education for 21 years. A dedicated educator, Petsch goes above and beyond for her students, inspiring confidence and encouraging each individual.
Valley View Elementary School - Jaimee Kardish is a kindergarten teacher and is dually certified as a regular and special education teacher. She also serves as head of the STEAM Committee at Valley View. Throughout the pandemic, she has pursued ways to keep her students engaged academically, socially, and emotionally by creating activities such as her Zoom story night on Wednesdays, hosting a read loud for the students in their pajamas.
William Mason Elementary School – John Immediato is currently in his 23rd year of teaching elementary physical education. He has also served as Head Softball Coach at Montville Township High School for 23 years and Assistant MTHS Football Coach for 20 years.
Woodmont Elementary School - Jennifer Kelly has 25 years of experience as an innovative kindergarten teacher. Beloved by students, families, and peers, Kelly has been a part of the Woodmont educational team for 22 years.
Robert R. Lazar Middle School - Kristi Viscardo teaches 6th grade ELA but is heavily entrenched in the culture of the district’s middle school building. She serves as a technology coach, faculty advisor of the SWAT advisory, and an after-school extra-help leader. In addition, Viscardo created Lazar's "Secret Supporter" in which faculty and staff are secretly paired up with one another and surprise their colleague with gifts or acts of kindness throughout the year. Principal Michael Pasciuto said, “Ms. Viscardo's contributions have helped to make ‘Life at Lazar’ feel more connected and normal during the pandemic.”
Montville Township High School - Angela Kalavrezos was hired here in September of 2002 and has been a business teacher at MTHS for 18 years. During this time, she earned her Masters plus 30. Kalavrezos started her education career in 1982 in Boonton.
The 2020-2021 Educational Services Professionals of the Year for Montville Township Public Schools are:
Cedar Hill Elementary School - Bonnie DiCola is a former ICU nurse and made the transition to becoming a school nurse 27 years ago. Nurse DiCola is only the 2nd school nurse in Cedar Hill’s 57 year history. She spearheads the school’s The Seeing Eye program which educates students about how to assist those with physical challenges. Through her dedication, the school has trained over 20 The Seeing Eye dogs.
Hilldale Elementary School - Briana Orefice has worked as an Art teacher in both Hilldale and Woodmont Elementary Schools for the past 6 years. She has been in education for a total of 12 years. With the shift to virtual and hybrid learning, she has inspired students’ creativity by helping them discover artistic opportunities at home and on-line as well as in-school. She periodically posts student work on her Hilldale Instagram: @hilldale_art.
Valley View Elementary School– Holly Wnuk has served as a paraprofessional in the Integrated Pre-School Program for the past five years. She radiates compassion, patience, and an awareness of her students’ needs in a way that is seamless. She is also a lifelong learner, pursuing weekend conferences and virtual professional development opportunities. Her colleagues have noted her consistent positive attitude and her willingness to always help in any way she can.
William Mason Elementary School - Eileen Horn has served as a special education teacher for 18 years. She also has 10 years of experience as a Learning Disabilities Teach Consultant and has served in that role in Montville for the past 7 years. She is also a teacher in the district’s Extended School Year Program.
Woodmont Elementary School - Danielle Cabana is a dedicated BSI teacher who consistently goes above and beyond for her students and their families. With 15 years in education Cabana is in her 11th year in Montville Township Public Schools.
Robert R. Lazar Middle School - Eleanor Klinger serves as one of Lazar's school nurses. During the pandemic, and especially the transition from remote to hybrid learning, Klinger has become another member of the school’s administrative team attending countless meetings, communicating with staff and parents at all hours of the night and weekends, contact tracing, and much, much, more. Principal Michael Pasciuto said, “Her kindness and professionalism are second to none and Lazar feels blessed to have her continue to lead the way.”
Montville Township High School - Brianne Bilello was hired in December 2012 and has now been a school nurse in the Montville Township Public Schools district for 8 years. During this time, she earned her Masters and is working towards her plus 30. Bilello started her career as a nurse at Chilton Hospital in 2003 and was substitute school nurse in Montville and Butler in 2012.
According to the state.nj.us/education website, the Governor's Teacher of the Year and the Governor’s Educational Services Professional of the Year Programs highlight educational innovation, student achievement, the rewards of teaching, and important services outside the classroom environment that lead to student success. These two recognitions “seek to attract public attention to the positive aspects of our educational system.”
All of Montville Township Public Schools district Teachers of the Year and Educational Services Professionals of the Year may move on to Morris County review. Since 2015, two Montville Township Public Schools teachers have been selected as Morris County Teachers of the Year. Currently MTHS Holocaust and Genocide teacher Christopher Butchko is serving as the 2019-2020 Morris County Teacher of the Year. Additionally, Lazar 7th grade Science teacher Cheryl Zanone represented Morris County as the Teacher of the Year for 2015-2016.
Educators who are named County Teacher of the Year compete for New Jersey State Teacher of the Year.
The 2020-2021 Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award was presented to: MTHS math teacher Cheryl Evans. Evans was hired in September of 2004 and has been in the district for 16 years. During this time, she earned her Masters plus 30. She began her career in education in 2003 teaching in the state of New York. Her innovation and dedication resoundingly resonate with students.
According to the teacherprep.princeton.edu website, “Each year since 1959, Princeton University has honored at its Commencement four outstanding New Jersey teachers from public and independent schools for their contributions to the lives of the state’s secondary school students and to their school communities.”
The 2020-2021 Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teacher recognition makes Evans eligible for consideration by Princeton University to be honored at the University’s spring 2021 commencement.
The January Montville Township Board of Education Educators of the Year ceremony may be viewed at the Montville Township Board of Education Meetings YouTube Channel.
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CAPTION (Photo Credit: Virtual Meeting Screen Shots)
Fifteen outstanding educators were honored by the Montville Township Board of Education in January 2021. A Teacher of the Year and an Educational Services Professional of the Year was chosen by their peers at each of the seven Montville Township Public Schools. They are depicted in this photo collage from left to right as TOTY and ESPOTY from each MTPS school. Pictured from left to right, top row to bottom row -
Cedar Hill: Kim Kao, Bonnie DiCola; Hilldale: Susan McKenzie Petsch, Briana Orefice; Valley View: Jaimee Kardish, Holly Wnuk; William Mason: John Immediato, Eileen Horn; Woodmont: Jennifer Kelly, Danielle Cabana; Lazar: Kristi Viscardo, Eleanor Klinger; MTHS: Angela Kalavrezos, Brianne Bilello, and Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award recipient: Cheryl Evans.