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MTHS Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teaching, Education Services Professional, and Teacher of the Year Awards Announced

Recently, a committee of individuals met to discuss the significant number of nominations received regarding the Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award. Based on much discussion and deliberation amongst the members of that committee, it is my distinct honor to announce the Montville Township High School recipient of the Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award—Ms. Stefanie San Filippo. While I can speak of her tremendous commitment to students and their education, it is the words of her peers that I feel capture, most effectively, her impact on the MTHS community:

 

[Excerpt from nominations]

 

On behalf of Ms. Stefanie San Filippo…

The nominee's effectiveness as an exceptionally well prepared and talented teacher of the subject matter and the extent of his/her success in inspiring and engaging students in their own learning, both in and out of the classroom.

 

Stefanie San Filippo is one of the most talented teachers I have come across in my career.  Her success is not limited to Social Studies content which is what makes her so exceptional.  Her ability to connect, not only with her students, but [also] with her colleagues, is unparalleled.  She takes time to think about how to enhance the experiences for all stakeholders at MTHS.  She looks for new and different ways to engage her students…She is constantly striving to elevate all students to be the best they can be academically. “

 

“I have known Stefanie for 6 years and in that time, I have gotten to know an extremely dedicated, caring, and hard working teacher. In my time here I have never heard either a student or a colleague say one bad word about Stefanie, it is a testament to the respect that she has earned among her peers and students. In addition, Stefanie is deserving because of her dedication to her students, I have seen many times when she will drop anything to help a student whether it be to write a letter of recommendation, provide extra help, or just to be someone they can talk to. This has also expanded to her colleagues, there have been many times where I have seen Stefanie drop everything she is doing to help a colleague in need.

 

“Inside the classroom, Stefanie is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about her subject and creating student relationships which engage them in the material. She has a way of engaging students in the material like no one I have seen before. Stefanie is the most innovative teacher I know, she is always trying new ideas and ways to engage her students. After almost 10 years of teaching most teachers might get complacent and take their foot off the gas, however, Stefanie is the exact opposite. She is always learning new ways to hone her craft…by attending various professional development opportunities or simply reading up on history.”

 

“Stef is quite possibly the most knowledgeable history teacher I know, and is dedicated to her students and colleagues. She is always willing to lend a hand, and is always open to collaborating with other staff. Stef is always at the forefront of innovation in our department, pioneering our "Research in the Humanities" format, 1-to-1 initiative, the Mustang Learning Academy, and at least half-a-dozen other new and exciting ideas. Her students talk positively about her all the time, and she is always looking out for the well-being of students and staff. She is poised, eloquent, and maintains a demanding schedule. She is the educator I one day hope to be, and I know she's a spectacular example for other teachers and students.”

 

Ms. San Filippo will represent MTHS in the continuing competition, hosted by Princeton University. A very small number of teachers will be selected and recognized at the Commencement Exercises this coming spring.

 

 

 

Recently, a committee of individuals met to discuss the significant number of nominations received regarding the MTHS Education Services Professional of the Year. Based on much discussion and deliberation amongst the members of that committee, it is my distinct honor to announce the Montville Township High School E.S.P. of the Year for 2018-2019—Mrs. Kim Garcia-Cunha. While I can speak of her tremendous commitment to students and their high school experience, it is the words of her peers that I feel capture, most effectively, her impact on the MTHS community:

 

[Excerpt from nominations]

 

On behalf of Mrs. Kim Garcia-Cunha…

“Kim Garcia-Cunha is a familiar face to many members of the high school community.  Going beyond standard departmental duties, she has efficiently handled the tasks involved to efficiently plan, organize, and administer our growing, large AP program, and with similar efficiency is an integral part of the high school HIB committee – both being difficult, often overwhelming responsibilities.  Kim is a valued, contributing member of committees whose purpose is to improve the school climate for all of its members.  Within our department, she is regularly the voice of reason as we plan through our many undertakings.  She frequently volunteers her assistance.  Whether she is mentoring past and present interns, providing translation services as needed, or taking on tasks that others shy away from, Kim’s giving, work ethic is evident. While all of those visible actions are impressive, what I most admire Kim for is her passionate fight for the underrepresented students.  Though she freely gives “woohoos” to the achievers, she consistently rallies others to provide for those in need.  On a small scale, she has helped individuals with needs that were [underserved].  On a larger scale, she has worked to garner changes to our system that benefit and help students who struggle – expanding course offerings to this population.   She is most deserving of this distinction, and while she will shy away from the recognition, it is with earned respect and appreciation for all that she does that I hope to loudly shout out some woohoos!”

 

“Every day Kim Garcia-Cunha comes to work wanting to make MTHS a better place. She has a positive, caring, sensitive personality that her students and parents embrace. Kim is a leader in the school counseling department and enjoys mentoring interns and new colleagues. She advocates for her students and always puts them first. Kim is extremely patient and hardworking. Parents, students, and colleagues always feel welcome in her office and often go to her for advice. She is well deserving of this award for all her dedication.”

 

Ms. Garcia is an educational professional that is dedicated, self-sacrificing, and empathetic.  Her qualities and personality are why her office is filled with students receiving help, counseling, or a friendly check in. She is a perfect example of what it means to be a devoted professional that puts her students, parents, and colleagues before herself.  She has gone above and beyond countless times for the benefit of the students in my classroom.  Specifically, she has served as the translator to a student’s parent.  Four years ago, she stepped up to the plate and kept the line of communication open with this student’s parents.  As the student’s medical needs changed over the last few years, Kim has become increasingly involved and her communication goes far beyond the normal weekly phone calls.  Kim’s compassion and empathy when handling the tough conversations, which no parent ever wants to hear, is nothing short of admirable.  She is an intricate part of our lives and the school community.  She has been an incredible person and colleague to work with over the last four years, which is why I believe she is very deserving of this nomination for the educational professional of the year.”

 

“Kim is truly an advocate for all of her students.  Whenever there is a discussion about developing programs or new initiatives, Kim is always the voice for the underrepresented students whose families may not be as vocal. Kim’s kindness and patience are continuously demonstrated through her interactions with students and parents.  If someone needs a listening ear, Kim is right there eager to listen no matter how long the conversation may take.”

 

Individuals within Montville Township High School that are eligible to be nominated for and selected as the Education Services Professional of the Year include professionals with the following certifications:

  • Anti-Bullying Specialist
  • Associate School Library Media Specialist
  • Athletic Trainer
  • Basic Skills Teacher
  • Behavior Specialist
  • Cooperative Education Coordinator
  • Cooperative Education Coordinator/Hazardous Occupations
  • Director of School Counseling Services/Child Study Team
  • Educational Interpreter
  • Guidance/School Counselor
  • Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant
  • Library Media Specialist
  • Mathematics Specialist/Mathematics Coach
  • Paraprofessional (Instructional)
  • Reading Specialist/Reading Coach
  • School Nurse (Instructional and Non-Instructional)
  • School Occupational Therapist
  • School Physical Therapist
  • School Psychologist
  • School Social Worker
  • Speech-Language Specialist
  • Student Assistance Coordinator

 

 

 

Recently, a committee of individuals met to discuss the significant number of nominations received regarding the MTHS Teacher of the Year. Based on much discussion and deliberation amongst the members of that committee, it is my distinct honor to announce the Montville Township High School Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019—Mrs. Sharon Pflug-Moench. While I can speak of her tremendous commitment to students and their education, it is the words of her peers that I feel capture, most effectively, her impact on the MTHS community:

 

[Excerpt from nominations]

 

On behalf of Mrs. Sharon Pflug-Moench…

Sharon Pflug-Moench is an exceptionally skilled and dedicated licensed classroom teacher with 25 years of dedicated and skilled teaching. She is an expert in the field (Master of Arts) of ceramics and crafts who inspires students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn.  Sharon teaches 6 periods in an eight period schedule with 4 to 5 preps in her schedule. Sharon's dedication to her students is amazing. She can field 20 different questions about 20 different projects being worked on in a class and deal with those equally. Sharon has had students participate in the RAKU firing in the fall and spring semesters for ten years. Introducing those students to this ceramic process expands their experience and understanding of the possibilities that ceramics possess. She is the only ceramics teacher in northern New Jersey that conducts this RAKU technique in house under her supervision. Sharon is approaching 5,000 students taught in her career based on her teaching schedule. Her students are regularly recognized as award winners in high school exhibits, regional museum exhibits, the New Jersey State Fair, and other student exhibitions. Sharon possesses the ability to research an artist, technique, or process for her students to use to experience her class more fully. Also, she is open to her students finding or creating their own solutions to any problem that arises in class.”

 

“Sharon is held in high regard by her current and former students. I want to relay this story of her being recognized. She was invited to a former student's wedding and the father of the bride got up to toast his daughter who was just married. His daughter, Ashley, had a brother who was a doctor and a sister who was a lawyer. Her father always encouraged Ashley but was not sure of what she would do after high school and in life.  However, there was a person who put Ashley on the road to that success, that person was Sharon Pflug. All of the success his daughter had as a college graduate and as an editor of photography came from Sharon Pflug teaching Ashley in Photography classes at MTHS.”

 

Mrs. Pflug-Moench will continue in the process to select the county and state Teacher of the Year. We know that she will represent Montville Township High School well.