Sayreville staff honored for care for children

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By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

SAYREVILLE – Service professionals from the Sayreville School District have been recognized for their accomplishments during the past school year.

The 2016-17 Educational Service Professionals of the Year were honored at a Board of Education meeting on May 16.

At the Emma Arleth Elementary School, the Educational Service Professional of the Year is Kelly Vasile.

“We are so fortunate at Arleth school to have Kelly as our reading specialist,” board President Kevin Ciak said. “Kelly is a team player [who] is always first to offer a hand, whether it’s making children’s faces at the Arleth winter festival, putting a costume on for Arleth’s literacy night or coordinating a reading program to further develop children’s love of learning. Kelly continually goes above and beyond and is often undertaking additional assignments to design reading strategies, resulting in children’s love of books.

“We all have a memory of our favorite teachers and Kelly Vasile’s wonderful and warm personality embraces the qualities that we remember from our own favorite teachers,” Ciak said. “Kindness, knowledge, fun, dedication and creating positive relationships with all those she is involved with. You will often hear Kelly say ‘What do you need?’ Kelly glows with happy ability. Arleth school knows they are unbelievably lucky to have her as part of their team.”

At the Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School, the Educational Service Professional of the Year is Beverly Fitzsimmons.

“If you think about Eisenhower, you think about one person: Bev Fitzsimmons,” Principal Edward Aguiles said. “She is a talented reading specialist. She knows everybody by name, she knows what’s going on in everybody’s classroom just as well as I do, she knows who needs help and she’s a huge advocate for our novice teachers. She’ll come in and she’ll say, ‘Give that one a little bit more time, that one needs a little bit of a pep talk or kick that one in the behind.’

“She’s fabulous to have as a right-hand person,” Aguiles said. “She is definitely the person that I go to when I have a thought about making a change at Eisenhower; I’ll run it past her. As the historian of Eisenhower school, I can ask for no better person. She is fabulous and remembers kids, teachers and connections better than anybody I know.”

At the Harry S. Truman Elementary School, the Educational Service Professional of the Year is Wendy Cacioli.

“Wendy loves to greet the buses in the morning,” Principal Timothy Byrne said. “Imagine if you’re a kindergartener, you’re getting off the bus and you have Wendy Cacioli, who is going to walk you to Truman school every day. And she’s our speech therapist. So this poor child walking off the bus is not only wondering what the day is going to be like, but she’s there and she’s wondering how they’re going to speak. And she encourages them.

“That’s really the very nature of who she is,” Byrne said. “She’s a great encourager. Just today, I saw her with a student and that student was focusing right on her, listening to her. You could see that child’s whole mannerism was changed because of that daily interaction. That really represents who Wendy is.”

At Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, the Educational Service Professional of the Year is April Magistro.

“April was acquainted with many of our parents,” Principal Carmen Davis said. “She grew up in the town of Sayreville. She is the first person you meet in the morning as she opens the doors of Wilson Elementary School. It is a wonderful place because she knows all of the students, the families, the parents and sometimes even grandparents by name. It’s the connectivity and the partnership we strive to achieve at Wilson school.

“She is involved with our RTI [Response to Intervention] team and the district’s curriculum committee,” Davis said. “She is like a critical friend when we make decisions and consistently think about how to make our school better. She is a coordinator for the St. Jude’s Math-a-Thon, she serves as a Red Ribbon Week coordinator and she’s a part of the theme committee. She’s a friend and a family member at Wilson Elementary School.”

At Samsel Upper Elementary School, the Educational Service Professional of the Year is Donna MacDonald.

“Donna is a multi-faceted, multi-talented educator [who] strives to make personal connections with each and every one of her students,” Principal Stacey Maher said. “Through these connections, she makes the curriculum content personally meaningful for each student. She often incorporates her love of the rich history of New Jersey and her commitment and passion for protecting the environment into her lessons.

“You can often find her at her local library seeking out just the perfect book for that one child she wants to reach,” Maher said. “Because she understands that all children learn in different ways, Ms. McDonald teaches her students to strategically read, showing many methods to be successful. She emphasizes multi-sensory approaches and applies her background in special education to help all children learn. This individualized approach is exactly what her students need in order to have success in an area where that they struggle.

“She never hesitates to take on any challenge or difficult task. We are so proud to have Ms. McDonald as the [Samsel] Educational Service Professional of the Year.”

At Sayreville War Memorial High School, the Educational Service Professional of the Year is Joseph Abruscato.

“Joseph Abruscato is well-known throughout the district as a very outgoing, fun-loving and humorous professional who is very popular among the students as well as the staff and administrators,” board member Lucy Bloom said. “Mr. Abruscato has been in the Sayreville School District for a total of 34 years, which includes 32 years working as a middle school counselor and then a high school counselor.

“Joe was named Middlesex County Vocational Technical School’s County Counselor of the Year,” Bloom said. “His qualities of cooperation, integrity, respect and fairness are just a few of the many adjectives that describe his character. Mr. Abruscato’s positive attitude, sense of humor, strong work ethic, flexibility and commitment have enriched and enhanced the lives of many of our students, faculty and administrators.”

Contact Matthew Sockol at [email protected].