Township Teachers Among Those Honored By Local Radio Station

Graphic: WMGQ

Six township teachers and one private school teacher have been honored so far this year by local radio station WMGQ in its “Teachers Who Make Magic” promotion.

The station, based in Franklin, picks winners on a weekly basis based on nominations submitted on their behalf.

Winners receive tickets to an awards ceremony, set for April 18 at the Pines Manor in Edison, as well as an “Apple Award” indicating that they are part of the “Class of 2018.”

Nominations for the contest were accepted beginning Dec. 11, 2017 and will be accepted until March 28. Included in the nominations are 250-500 word essays explaining how the nominee has inspired others, and why the nominee should be honored. The essays could include “extra-curricular activities, community service, mentoring and / or overcoming obstacles, and how they have made a difference in their community,” according to the contest rules.

Winners in the promotional contest are chosen every Thursday.

According to the WMGQ contest web site, teachers in the township school district who have been named winners in the contest so far include:

  • Franklin High School French teacher Pascale Byrne, who was nominated by fellow teacher Magie Muir.
    “Pascale is constantly exploring new ways to engage her learners. She incorporates anything edu-taining to promote her students’ use of French.  When a Spanish teacher replacement was needed mid-year, Pascale took on the additional class in a new language and helped the students orchestrate their own Quinceñera party! She volunteered to help proctor the Seal of Bi-literacy exams and gave up her prep period several times to help a colleague with a challenging class and help reach struggling learners. Both students and fellow teachers learn from her. Pascale is selfless, a true team player and deserving of the honor of a teacher who makes magic.”
  • Hillcrest School teacher Alexandra Thomas who was nominated b fellow teacher Jeanelle Panek
    “Alexandra goes the extra mile every day and is a part of many committees. She is always creating incredible, engaging activities and videos to help each student’s learning style. She created a Talent Show to showcase all students. She has a positive attitude but means business when it comes to learning. Her class reads a poem every day to start their mindset in believing in themselves, and taking advantage of their education. If you heard it, it would bring tears to your eyes. She also co-leads the New Teacher Workshops to mentor new teachers. Alexandra is a teacher who makes magic every day.”
  • Franklin Park School teacher Courtney Collins, nominated by rincipal Purvi Shah.
    “Miss Courtney Collins teaches Kindergarten at Franklin Park School.
 Miss Collins recognizes that children develop and learn in a variety of contexts and therefore provides opportunities that support their intellectual and social-emotional development. She adapts and modifies instruction to accommodate their special learning needs; partnering with her colleagues to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning and self-motivation.  She uses knowledge of effective verbal, non-verbal and written communication techniques to foster the use of inquiry, collaboration and supportive interactions.
 Miss Collins engages in frequent and sensitive communication with families that help them to take an active part in their child’s studies. She displays a strong commitment to the success of every student and takes on leadership opportunities inspiring her team and colleagues to come together for the betterment of her students. Courtney Collins is a teacher who makes magic!”
  • MacAfee Road School teacher Jay Hooper, nominated by Principal Bill Grippo.
    “Jay Hooper teaches second grade at MacAfee Road School in Somerset. Jay is an amazing and an inspirational teacher who is a fantastic role model for his students.  Jay participates in every facet of the school community. He founded, trains and oversees the school’s 20 member safety patrol, he volunteers for all school events, helps conduct many fundraisers and is the leader of the school Positive Behavior Incentive program. Jay is also a leader in the school’s math team and attends ongoing professional development for math best practices.
Jay is a positive force, encouraging all staff to get involved in school activities.  Jay has a roll up the sleeves attitude and that is why Jay Hooper as a teacher who makes magic.”
  • Sampson G. Smith School teacher Jill Santonis, nominated by literacy coach Rosemary King.
    “Behind the scenes, Jill works tirelessly to develop her skills, feed her passion, and make a difference in many children’s lives. She is known as a kind and understanding teacher.  She embraces all children as they are and helps them find the best in themselves. She is also a teacher leader, she shares her work and opens her classroom for professional development and Instructional Rounds. She has piloted new curriculum, and has taken on the position of Parent Involvement Coordinator.
 Students rely on teachers like Jill to welcome, embrace, and help them find the best in themselves. Teachers rely on her to support and inspire them.  Parents rely on her to foster collaborative relationships. Just a few reasons why Jill Santoni deserves this honor.”
  • Conerly Road School teacher Grisel Panchery, nominated by Principal Donna S. Burnett.
    “Throughout her 21 years of teaching, she has taught all academic subjects. Grisel always finds creative ways to teach students the importance of showing others respect, as well as letting her students know how special they are to her. She organized the annual African-American Living Wax Museum, Science Fair, and other school wide events. What has made her an outstanding candidate for the Teacher Who Makes Magic is the sincere spirit of love and gratitude for all students. She goes above and beyond to ensure that the learning environment is safe for all students to take risks when academic challenges arise. Just a few reasons why Grisel Panchery deserves this most prestigious award.”

The award was also given to one private school teacher in the township:

  • St. Matthias school teacher Dee Dillon, nominated by fellow teacher Jeanne Miller.
    “When you hear the words kind, compassionate, dedicated, and caring, you think of Dee Dillon. Dee has been a teacher for 12 years and first grade is challenging, which Dee readily accepts. From the moment her students walk into the classroom, they are engaged because her class is constantly in motion. Dee is nurturing and it makes her students feel comfortable and safe. She is also there for her colleagues. Whether she is helping new or seasoned teachers or chairing a committee, her spirit, dedication and work ethic are evident. Seeing Dee Dillon in action shows you the true meaning of a teacher who makes magic.”


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