Friday, May 28, 2010

Bergen County Celebrates Teachers

Dr. Aaron Graham, Bergen County Executive Superintendent & Maryann Woods-Murphy.

Take 400 teachers, administrators and educational support professionals and bring them to the Fiesta Catering Rooms in Wood Ridge, NJ for a fabulous luncheon to celebrate teaching and learning and you have the Bergen County Teacher of the Year Recognition Celebration!

Add to that the music of Northern Highlands Regional High School students with their music teacher, Theodora Sotiropoulos, and you have a perfect atmosphere, in an exquisite venue.

Last year, when I was named my school Teacher of the Year, I sat at one of the linen-covered tables and marveled at the way we were being treated as Teachers of the Year. For a classroom teacher, it was so special to go to lunch and eat on china plates, have attentive waiters serving bread and ice water and listen to warm and smart speeches about the good things that teachers do. All those stories made the food taste better.

Plus, there were no bells ringing to transition us from one part of the event to another!

I remember seeing the 2008-2009 Teacher of the Year, Jeanne Muzi, speak and share her love of art and the importance of our jobs. I dreamed of being in her shoes, but who would ever believe that such a thing might be possible? Could I really become the New Jersey State Teacher?

Today, as I addressed that room of proud teachers and their teams, I understood that only when you have a dream do you have any chance at all of achieving it.

Here I am with the Bergen County Sheriff, Leo McGuire and Freeholder Elizabeth Calabrese. Dr. Aaron Graham, is on the left.

In this candid shot, you can see how happy everyone is to be together to celebrate teachers and support professionals.

I talked about my students and how their stories matter, how very much they have helped me grow and learn and become who I am today. I spoke of poignant moments that we have shared and the connection between us. Every teacher has a personal "hall of fame" of students - kids who have helped us become better teachers and learners. We are so lucky to be teachers - to serve as touchstones for the children as they live and grow. In fact, every student has a key to this hall of fame and to our hearts.

My Northern Highlands Regional High School colleague, John Gornell, an outstanding history teacher and the advisor of the National Honor Society, was honored today as the new 2010 Northern Highlands Teacher of the Year. He came to this celebration with John Keenan, our NHRHS Superintendent, Joe Occhino, our Principal and Dept. Chair, Bob Petrosino. Here I am pictured with John Gornell:

The Bergen County Office of Education staff put together an amazing event today! Congratulations to all of them!

We all walked out with our heads a little higher, our hearts a bit fuller. We carried certificates and chocolates and an engraved pen, but the most important gift of all was the public recognition of our good service.

Ah, somebody sees that what we are doing is part of the important work of the world!

(Please note that all photos on today's blog are courtesy of Steven Pasternak, The Bergen County Supervisor of Child Study and photographer of merit!)

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