The Manchester Township Board of Education honored the district’s 2012 Teachers of the Year at their May meeting. Superintendent of Schools, David Trethaway, congratulated the honorees and thanked all of the teachers in the district, saying, “What makes a school district successful is the quality of its staff … we have an excellent staff here and these teachers are an example of that.” Each school’s principal introduced their Teacher of the Year:
Manchester Twp. High School & District Teacher of the Year - Abigail Clark
Abigail Clark has been an educator for 37 years and has been teaching Spanish in Manchester for the last 36 years. She served on many committees including the district World Language Committee, was a Class and Spanish Club advisor, and also a mentor teacher. She is retiring at the end of the year.
“To spend time in Mrs. Clark’s class is to see students actively engaged in learning. Her goal is to teach language, culture and vocabulary using techniques that make it relevant and authentic,” said Principal Alex George. “In addition to this amazing impact in the classroom, Mrs. Clark has had a profound impact on the culture of the high school.” George explained that Clark was among the teachers who opened the high school in 1976. “She has created a culture were teachers support each other and work passionately on behalf of the students at the high school.”
George cited Clark’s efforts as a group leader for the Professional Learning Communities work at the high school. “Interestingly enough, they have a goal of creating departments very much in the mold of the foreign language department Mrs. Clark established years ago, where teachers work together, set goals and make instructional decisions based on how the students are progressing through the curriculum.”
Thanking her colleagues, Clark said, "I am extremely grateful to have spent my career in Manchester. I am fortunate to have been part of the team of teachers that opened MTHS. We developed camaraderie and fostered a sense of family that continues to define our school community. I am blessed to work with the most knowledgeable and dedicated professionals, who simply want to deliver the best education to the students of this district." She spoke about her long career at the high school and how she enjoys when students come back to see her as adults. Some of her students have even returned to teach in the district. “My students, no matter how old, will always be my kids,” she remarked. Referring to her impending retirement, Clark said that being named Teacher of the Year “is the perfect way to end a wonderful career.”
Manchester Twp. Middle School Teacher of the Year - Irene O’Reilly
Irene O’Reilly has worked in Manchester for 11 years, first as a Language Arts Special Education teacher and now as the school’s self-contained class teacher. She served on the NJ Schools to Watch Coordinating Team and as co-coordinator of Stand by Me Day.
“It is apparent that Ms. O’Reilly’s students adore her and equally apparent that she returns their love,” remarked Principal Nancy Driber. “She has created a community of strength, support and growth in her classroom. The bond that she forms with her students will undoubtedly last long beyond the school year. Ms. O’Reilly brings excitement and her absolute passion for teaching to her classroom every single day. She is, simply put, a wonderful teacher.”
O’Reilly spoke about her teaching career and how gratifying it is to watch her students bloom. She told a story about a young man who was told by teachers that he shouldn’t draw flowers with faces on them – that man was Walt Disney. She said, “We plant the seeds that hopefully will bloom into something that will last a lifetime.”
Whiting Elementary School Teacher of the Year - Mrs. Loreen Reiman
Loreen Reiman graduated from Manchester and worked several jobs while traveling the world with her military husband before finding her true vocation when she began volunteering at Whiting School. She went back to college to get a degree in education, was a substitute teacher in the district and did her student teaching at Whiting before joining the staff there.
“Today, Loreen Reiman is a Fifth Grade Teacher who gives her all to the students every day,” said Dr. Fran Scudese, Principal. “Her plans are always relevant and clear. She has a mastery of the needs of each of her students and is always there to assist them. Kindness and caring are most relevant words to describe Loreen. Whenever I walk into her room the children are engaged and interactive with her. She has created a safe environment where all children want to learn and grow.”
Reiman said that she debated what to include in her speech - something profound? Amusing? Mushy? A quote? In the end she said she decided to “just thank everyone and give credit where credit is due.” She thanked students, parents, family and her colleagues (including Teachers of the Year O’Reilly and Clark who she had as teachers). “I have had fun and I learned so much from you. You are a great team and living examples of excellence in education.”
Ridgeway Elementary School Teacher of the Year - Mrs. Jamie Rinella
Jamie Rinella is a third grade teacher at Ridgeway Elementary School. She is a graduate of Manchester and has been teaching in Manchester for the past 11 years.
“Mrs. Rinella is dedicated and talented. She fosters a truly caring and compassionate environment,” said Principal Diane Pedroza. “Every student is special to her, as she is to them. Her classroom is an inviting place to be. She has an appreciation of the value of technology and utilizes it to enhance instruction. She is a true teacher leader and has been instrumental with many initiatives.” Pedroza described Mrs. Rinella as “a bright light in our school. She is a true role model and a wonderful example of the finest in our profession.”
“This is a special honor not only because I work here but because I went here myself,” said Rinella. “I want to thank all the teachers I had and that I work with. There is no greater feeling than to know you are surrounded by such great people.”
Manchester Twp. Elementary School Teacher of the Year - Alice McGlynn
Alice McGlynn has been an art teacher at Point Pleasant Boro High School, in Holmdel and now at MTES where she has taught since 2003.
“The arts are such an important part of a child’s education and Alice finds a way to bring out each child’s individuality and creativity.” remarked Principal Marjorie Stevens. “Come to MTES and the first thing you will see when you enter the building is the children’s artwork. Or go into Shop Rite by our school and see the ever changing display of artwork, all by our children. Simply put, Alice brings out the best in our children, who are all wonderful artists because they have Alice as their art teacher. We want to thank you, Alice, for the impact you make on our children’s lives each and every day.“
McGlynn told the story of how she almost missed out on a career that she loves because a high school art teacher, when she told him she wanted to major in Art Education, asked her why and told her she had no talent. Discouraged, she went to college for elementary education. “Something was terribly missing,” said McGlynn. “I left school after 2 years. I took some business courses, but then I woke up - I went back to college and majored in Art Education. I received straight A’s and followed my dream.”
“Art is my passion. It has been since I was a little girl. I am so grateful and blessed to share my talent with almost 600 students each week.”
Regional Day School Teacher of the Year - Lisa Michallis
Lisa Michallis came to Regional Day School two years ago as Learning Disability Teacher-Consultant. She has 18 years of experience, previously serving as a Learning Consultant in Freehold Township and Coordinator of Special Education in South River.
Principal Ralph Lotierzo said that Michallis’ role as a Learning Consultant departs from that ordinarily associated with the title, describing her as a liaison between the school and sending districts, and the first voice on the phone for districts and parents seeking an alternate placement. She also provides APA workshops to neighboring districts and helped coordinate the school’s first Transition Fair and Post-21 program.
“In her short time with us, Lisa Michallis has done amazing things,” Lotierzo remarked. “She is a hands-on resource to teachers and is constantly on the go. She reaches into the hearts of students, approaching each day with a can-do spirit and child-centered philosophy.”
Michallis said that when she initially came for an interview and took a tour of RDS, “I recall thinking RDS is a unique and special place.”
“I am thankful to be a part of a school community that is student centered, dedicated and talented. Each day I have the opportunity to watch students making great gains, observe teachers and support staff making a difference in the life of each and every student, and feel humbled by the generosity and support provided to families in need,” said Michallis. “There is a lot of magic in our school.”