Administrators recognize hard work of school support staff


By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

SAYREVILLE – Support staff members in the Sayreville School District have been honored for the 2016-17 school year.

During a Board of Education meeting on May 16, recognition was given to the district’s educational service professionals of the year and educational support professionals of the year.

At Emma Arleth Elementary School, the Educational Support Professional of the Year is Anna Marie Melanaski.

“You will know Anna Marie as soon as you meet her because she will great you with her sparking smile,” board President Kevin Ciak said. “Anna Marie has been part of Arleth school’s family for over 16 years. Anna Marie is a fantastic support [professional], not only for the children in her classroom, but throughout the school.

“Anna Marie arrives at work early every day, eager to work, and brings a sense of easiness and kindness with her,” Ciak said. “Anna Marie continually will meet the children in her class at their level, whether that is being on scooters in the gym, singing her heart out in music class or working with manipulatives during math. We are grateful for her dedication and for the passion for education that she shares with Arleth school each day.”

At the Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School, the Educational Support Professional of the Year is Michele Mattiello.

“I recently just said [to Mattiello, a kitchen specialist] ‘Are you putting more sugar in the breakfast cereals? Because the line is literally out the door right now for breakfast.’ And she said ‘No,’ and read me exactly what the guidelines are for breakfast,” Principal Edward Aguiles said.

“She is dedicated, she is a wonderful person, she greets our students with a smile in the morning, she knows most of the students by name, she knows their last names [and] their first names, she can see who owes money, how quickly they owe money, and she’s sure to make certain that even if they owe money, they’re eating and then she comes to me and goes ‘Here’s the bill.'”

At the Harry S. Truman Elementary School, the Educational Support Professional of the Year is Susan McDonough.

“Susan is the clerk in our office and by her very presentation, you can see what tone she brings every day to Truman School,” Principal Timothy Byrne said. “She does everything in terms of answering the phone, checking on attendance, doing those wonderful things we show to our auditors and then I’ll throw something in there [for her to do]. Susan has the wonderful task of filtering all those students who want to see me to pitch an idea about going on [our] TV. She’s a great agent, both for them and for me.

“What she does every single day for our children is just that. Her dedication, her love for them is really immeasurable. And she does it with a smile,” Byrne said.

At Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, the Educational Support Professional of the Year is Patricia Rasa.

“Pat is one of our best kept secrets at Wilson school,” Principal Carmen Davis said. “Each morning or afternoon, Pat can be seen preparing breakfast and lunch meals for our children. Although preparing meals is a normal routine, Pat completes the process with a giant-sized portion of caring and support I most admire. I enjoy seeing her greet the children. Do you know why? Because Pat knows every single child by name. It bring something very special to our work day.

“She is positive and a joy to have in our building,” Davis said. “It’s that extra-special ingredient of care that Wilson school cannot be without. Pat loves what her profession requires. She does it with such commitment, warmth and ease. Pat brings a special touch to the learning environment and to the place where children bloom and grow. Two words come to mind when I think about Pat: gratitude and respect.”

At Samsel Upper Elementary School, the Educational Support Professional of the Year is Mary Jane Kerr.

“Mary Jane is an extraordinary human being, both in and out of the classroom,” Principal Stacey Maher said. “She makes a valuable difference in the lives of the students, staff and community of Sayreville. As a valued paraprofessional in the district for more than 15 years, she is truly deserving of this special recognition. Mary Jane has a reputation as a supportive, well-educated and exceptional paraprofessional. Her warmth, enthusiasm and creativity is something she shares with her colleagues on a daily basis.

“Mary Jane Kerr has exceeded the expectations of a paraprofessional within the classroom,” Maher said. “She supports the teachers she works with by turning every day lessons into engaging, hands-on moments for students in the classroom. Mary Jane has a way of communicating with students that allows them to feel safe, supported and makes them look forward to learning.

“The students and teachers are always eager to work with Mrs. Kerr. As a result, she’s often requested to work in the classrooms of many teachers. Her presence creates an atmosphere all wish to be a part of. Mary Jane Kerr is an amazing asset to the students, staff and the community of Sayreville and is therefore deserving of the [Samsel Educational Support Professional of the Year].”

At the Sayreville Middle School, the Educational Support Professional of the Year is Margaret Ritter.

“Margaret has been at the middle school for 17 years,” Principal Donna Jakubik said. “She works in the office with me. And for some reason, Margaret and I always find ourselves in the middle of something. It [can be] a day where everybody’s got the flu, it’s Margaret and I in the office in the morning and we’re down six subs. And she’s always got a smile. I don’t know how she does that, but she’s always got a smile.

“We have a very fast-paced office in the middle school. I think from being the mother of four girls [who] are very close in age [to middle school students], she is able to keep her composure at all times,” Jakubik said. “Margaret knows the ins and outs of everything in the office. There are times I’ll just lose words for what I’m saying and Margaret can complete the thought. She knows our kids, she knows our teachers and she is just so valuable to the middle school.”

At the Sayreville War Memorial High School, the Educational Support Professional of the Year is Jolanta Raducha.

“Jolanta can best be described as the quintessential professional,” board member Lucy Bloom said. “She greets everyone with a smile and is an amazing resource to not only the supervisors and athletic director, but also to the coaches, teachers and everyone entering [her room]. Her efficiency is admirable, as well as her willingness to help others with any endeavor. It is a pleasure to work with this woman each day.”

The Educational Support Professional of the Year for the district’s administrative offices, which are located at the Jesse Selover Elementary School, is Lisa Cetta.

“Lisa began her career with the Sayreville Board of Education as a cafeteria worker in 2005,” Business Administrator Erin Hill said. “She worked in the cafeteria at the Arleth Elementary School, the Samsel Upper Elementary School and the middle school. In July of 2014, she became a support secretary in accounts payable, where she works today. Lisa helps maintain relationships with our district vendors and she’s always willing to assist other staff members with a smile on her face.

“I have only known Lisa a very short period of time, but in that time, she has always been the most helpful person,” Hill said. “Anytime I need anything, she is always willing to step in. And she is probably the most positive person I have ever met in my life.”

The Educational Support Professional of the Year for Project Before Preschool, which is located in Samsel, is Grace Restivo.

“Grace works as the secretary to the director of special services,” Superintendent of Schools Richard Labbe said. “She has been a vital component to the special services department for over 10 years. She manages to organize and track of details large and small [in] a busy work environment with skill and kindness, while also meeting her day to day responsibilities.

“Her expertise is always offered to teachers, child study team members and other administrative assistants,” Labbe said. “Grace is the department go-to person for schedules, Google Docs and just about anything. If there is a list, she can create and modify it. She is one of the first faces our parents see when starting their time in the Sayreville School District and she provides excellent customer service to all our families.”

The Educational Support Professional of the Year for the district’s transportation department is Rosalia White.

“Rosalia White began her career as an administrative secretary in 2013,” Labbe said. “She is the secretary to the director of transportation. Rosalia is a well-deserving recipient of this award. She handles a multitude of tasks and is always eager to help whenever asked. Mrs. White is a pleasure to have in the transportation department and has helped make the new director of transportation’s, Christine Vastano’s, first year of transition a successful one.”

Contact Matthew Sockol at [email protected].