CRANBURY: Teacher of the Year a ‘quiet hero’ to her Cranbury School students

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Susan Genco

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
CRANBURY — Erica Kauffman is the teacher of the year at the Cranbury School.
Ms. Kauffman, a middle school English and language arts teacher, was presented her award at the school board’s May 10 meeting.
“I don’t believe that teaching is a profession, I believe that teaching is a calling and I think that all of our educators have been called to serve our students,” said Susan Genco, who is school principal and chief school administrator.
“I think it’s a wonderful way to connect this calling with our children’s achievements tonight and to fully recognize Mrs. Kauffman, I would like to recognize all of our teachers for everything that they give to our children every day,” she said.
In presenting the award, Ms. Genco said that middle school is a challenging time but a wonderful time, a time where kids are really looking at the past but looking at the future and trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be.
Ms. Kauffamn has been teaching middle school children most of her career, Ms. Genco said. Ms. Kauffman started at the Trenton Public Schools, taught in the Englishtown-Manalapan district, and has been at Cranbury the past eight years.
“I think that for middle school and for English there’s no greater subject for a student to explore all of these things than themselves and within the context of the language arts,” she said.
In Ms. Kauffman’s classroom, Fabulous Formal Fridays are something special.
“She believes that writing should be stress free because it is about learning and growing,” Ms. Genco said. “Students in her class have become so excited about Fabulous Formal Fridays that they’ve dressed for the occasion to celebrate in her class.”
In addition, Ms. Kauffman has coordinated the annual spelling bee, oversees the wax museum project, is behind the scene for the Kindness Club activities, Cranbury Idol, served as an intervention and referral services team member to support struggling students, and served as a member on the school safety team.
“She has been an effective teacher/mentor,” Ms. Genco said. “She had rewritten our English/Language Arts curriculum multiple times and engages in ongoing rewrites in professional learning communities every week of every month of every year.”
She said that the Cranbury School staff thinks of Ms. Kauffman as a quiet hero for the kids.
“She doesn’t seek out the spotlight, but we, as her colleagues, see the impact she has in her classroom,” Ms. Genco said. “She develops a culture of caring, compassion and community that is evident in the way students speak to her and about her class.”
As a gift to the teacher of the year, the staff provide writings from students who have been in her class or who know her and wanted to celebrate. Almost every one of her sixth grade students recalled the community she created in her classroom, called Kauffmantown, Ms. Genco said.
“She is such a strong advocate and support system for all of her students and she guides her students to become respectful and responsible young men and women,” she said.
Through her well-planned lessons, her students develop a true love of literature as well as identifying who they are as individuals on the world’s stage, Ms. Genco said.
The Cranbury Education Teacher Association gives its teacher of the year a flame award with the quote: “A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.”
In addition, the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) also had a gift Ms. Genco
presented to Ms. Kauffman. 