A kindergarten teacher at Triangle Elementary School in Hillsborough was recently recognized one of the state’s 21 premier educators, as she was named the Somerset County Teacher of the Year.
Viktoria Wargo, a special education teacher at TES, was honored by Gov. Phil Murphy and the state Department of Education (DOE) for what was described as an “outstanding level of talent and commitment.”
“I am just absolutely honored to be recognized. There are so many amazing educators in Somerset County,” Wargo said.
Wargo is the seventh teacher from Hillsborough to earn the county award since the 1998-99 school year, when Amy Bogland, an eighth grade humanities and math teacher at Hillsborough Middle School, earned the accolade.
Wargo has a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Phoenix, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Allentown College of Saint Francis DeSales.
Out of her 11 years with the district, Wargo has taught in the elementary self-contained autism program and has spent nine of those years at Triangle Elementary School. In addition to her dedication as a teacher, she is a certified Crisis Prevention Institute instructor for the district.
“[Viktoria Wargo] is absolutely more than deserving of this honor and represents the dedication and professionalism that New Jersey public employees, especially Hillsborough ones, bring to the classroom every single day,” Henry Goodhue, president of the Hillsborough Education Association, said.
Along with her recognition at the county level, Wargo was named the 2013 Somerset County Woman of the Year for the field of education and in 2003 she won the Kristen Ann Culley Award for Faculty Excellence at the Eden Institute.
In addition to her work at the school district, Wargo has taught and served as the behavior specialist for seven years at The Eden Institute in Princeton. She has also volunteered with the Special Olympics, Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine program and Autism New Jersey.
According to the state DOE, individual schools are asked each year to nominate teachers for the Governor’s Educator of the Year Program in an effort to “acknowledge the hard work and dedication of their outstanding teachers.” Following nominations, panels of administrators, teachers, parents and members of county education associations select each county’s winner.
Once selected at the county level, Wargo and her contemporaries throughout the state will meet with other educators to “serve as ambassadors for New Jersey’s public schools,” according to the program’s website.
Another panel will then select the state Teacher of the Year based on written applications, video submissions and interviews with the county winners. The state winner will be announced at the New Jersey Board of Education’s October meeting. That individual will then go on to represent the state for the national title.
As an advocate for special needs students and the importance of special education in schools, Wargo said she hopes this new attention will serve as a signal boost for her work.
“Over the last several years, I’ve done a lot in terms of awareness activities within the district and communities, so I’m hoping that I can be able to use this recognition as a platform to continue to spread the awareness,” Wargo said.
With the 2018-19 school year starting on Sept. 6, Wargo said she was excited to get started.
“I’m always excited to get back in the classroom and be with my students I’ve got a lot of new fun ideas for the year and for mainstream opportunities,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunities that this is going to give me in terms of different seminars and presentations that I’ll be invited to and bring back to share with my colleagues.”