Principals praise Teachers of the Year

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By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

SAYREVILLE – With the end of the school year fast approaching, the Sayreville School District has named its teachers of the year.

The teachers were recognized for their accomplishments at a Board of Education meeting on May 16.

At Emma Arleth Elementary School, the Teacher of the Year is Rachel Gelfand, who teaches special education.

“Following in her family’s footsteps, Rachel has dedicated her life working for children with special needs,” board President Kevin Ciak said. “Rachel brings her extensive knowledge into her classroom, and combines it with caring and kindness to create a joyful place of learning. Rachel is the epitome of exactly what you can imagine a Teacher of the Year recipient would be.

“Rachel is dedicated and has gone back to school to pursue her supervisory certificate,” Ciak said. “Rachel and her colleagues communicate constantly, resulting in extraordinary projects such as Arleth’s amazing Autism Fair. We are very grateful to Rachel for her dedication to our disabilities program that has enriched so many of Sayreville’s children’s lives.”

At Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School, the Teacher of the Year is Carol Seaman, who teaches second grade.

“It was a very easy decision this year to choose our Teacher of the Year,” Principal Edward Aguiles said. “As we sat at the committee, the words that kept coming from each member [were that] she’s giving: she gives not only to the students, but if you ask her for help as another teacher, she’s willing to help. Technology: she uses technology often in the classroom and helps her fellow colleagues along with things they might not understand, or areas where they can improve.

“She’s dedicated; if I hear the copier going at the end of the night, about five or six o’clock, I guarantee it’s Carol getting prepared for the next day,” Aguiles said. “She’s a fabulous lady as well as a fabulous teacher. We’re glad to have her at Eisenhower school.”

At the Harry S. Truman Elementary School, the Teacher of the Year is Cvetelina Horvat, an in-class resource teacher.

“[Horvat] always gives her smile, she always keeps that manner of what is best for our children and she’s certainly advocating for those children all the time,” Principal Timothy Byrne said. “She never complains, never says a bad word about anybody [and is] always thinking of the bright side of every situation. Our children and our parents couldn’t ask for a better advocate for what she does every single day for our children. Truman School is very blessed to have her walk our halls.”

At the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, the Teacher of the Year is Jennifer Golda, who teaches first grade.

“Jen is a valuable member of Wilson school,” Principal Carmen Davis said. “Jen is conscientious, she’s creative and she has a heartfelt interest in the success and education of our children. Ms. Golda is excited about ways she can join in and develop a great school. She’s not afraid afraid to add to her to-do list. Previously, she served as our school webpage coordinator and she’s directly involved with supporting our pre-schoolers as they enter kindergarten.

“Jen participates in our kindergarten writing program at Selover [school] each year and she is a member of our culture and climate committees,” Davis said. “She brings back a lot of information for her colleagues as well. If you have the honor and pleasure of meeting Ms. Golda, one of the things to note is her keen sense of humor, her passion for developing creative teaching projects and resource materials for her children and the fact that she is one of Wilson school’s finest.”

At Samsel Upper Elementary School, the Teacher of the Year is Dana Giorgianni, a special education teacher.

“Dedicated, supportive, persistent and compassionate are a few words to describe this educator,” Principal Stacey Maher said. “As a staff member of the Sayreville School District since September 1989, she has impacted the lives of her students, their families, colleagues and the community. She has worked with students who have had both behavioral and academic challenges. She has always found a way to motivate and challenge her students so that they may reach their full potential.

“She works closely with the parents of her students, encouraging them to involve their children in social interactions with one another, often facilitating outings and events such as movies and surfing camps during the summer,” Maher said. “Mrs. Giorgianni works with other teachers and students in the building to encourage social interactions with regular education peers. She has helped many understand the celebrations and challenges of working with students with multiple disabilities and autism.

“She is a strong and passionate teacher who is thorough and consistent. Her students make great strides in the time they spend with her and there is a great sense of self-worth and teamwork within her room. Her students and their families are lucky to call her their teacher. And [Samsel] is proud to have her as our Teacher of the Year.”

At Sayreville Middle School, the Teacher of the Year is Kulsum Farooqui, who teaches sixth grade math.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ms. Farooqui as a sixth grade math teacher for the past 13 years and even more of a pleasure of working actually with her for 14 years because she was a student teacher in the Sayreville School District,” Principal Donna Jakubik said. “It was very clear from the outset, even as a student teacher, [with] the characteristics that Ms. Farooqui had, she would turn into a master teacher. And sure enough, she absolutely did.

“She went from being a novice teacher to a true master teacher who was a mentor for many of our new teachers,” Jakubik said. “She works with both students who are at the highest end of the math stratosphere in terms of starting our sixth grade program, teaching some very highly advanced sixth graders pre-algebra, and students who struggle quite a bit with math. And [Farooqui] is a terrific collaborative teacher for the in-class support resource model.

“Every summer, the phone starts to ring around July. ‘My child struggles in math. Can I request a teacher? I want my child to have Ms. Farooqui.’ ‘My child is very excellent in math, I want them to be challenged. I want them to have Ms. Farooqui.’ She’s excellent. And we at the middle school are very lucky to have her,” the principal said.

At Sayreville War Memorial High School, the Teacher of the Year is Linda Jakubik-Tanchyk, who teaches English.

“To say that Mrs. Jakubik-Tanchyk is respected by her students is an understatement,” board member Lucy Bloom said. “Over the years, she has been revered by them and because she displays such caring for her students, they often look to her for guidance on a variety of topics, from academic to personal. Mrs. Jakubik-Tanchyk is to be commended for her enthusiasm, school spirit and professionalism, as well as her tireless support of staff at the high school.

“She has been a force in working with LAL [language arts literacy] students to successfully complete their reading and writing components on state mandated testing, often testing out 95 percent of her students,” Bloom said. “Linda is a team player, a consummate professional who is dependable, motivated and displays a deep commitment to her students in addition to working with her supervisor and the administration.”

Contact Matthew Sockol at [email protected].