HomeLawrence LedgerLawrence Ledger NewsRetired Lawrence Township educator, school board member receives Woman of Excellence award

Retired Lawrence Township educator, school board member receives Woman of Excellence award

Jo Ann Groeger’s receipt of the annual Woman of Excellence award, presented by the Greater Eldridge Park Neighborhood Association, left her “honored beyond words.”

“The whole idea of celebrating women, the perspective that women have. We don’t take time to celebrate. Every woman is worthy of an award,” Groeger said.

“I am grateful to you because you have allowed me to be ‘me,’ and to help me find my joy as a school board member. It means a lot,” she said to those who attended the award ceremony at Leonardo II’s restaurant on Brunswick Pike Sept. 1.

Groeger retired after a 32-year career as a health and physical education teacher in the Lawrence Township Public Schools and is a member of the Lawrence Township Board of Education (BOE).

The retired educator is the eighth honoree in a tradition that dates to 2015.

“There are a lot of talented women in Lawrence,” said Teresita Bastides-Heron, president of Greater Eldridge Park Neighborhood Association’s (GEPNA) board of trustees.

Patricia Hendricks Farmer, who serves as president on the Lawrence BOE, said she has learned a lot from Groeger’s tenure on the board. Farmer has served on the school board since 2021, and Groeger has served since 2011.

“You are dedicated. You are one of the [kindest] people I know. You have touched many students’ lives, and you care about the students,” Farmer told Groeger at the event.

As a former educator, Groeger brings a unique voice to the school board and the district is much better for it, Farmer said, noting Groeger is the school board’s liaison to the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Groeger also sits on the school board’s Community Relations, Legislative Affairs and Personnel committees. In addition, she is the board’s liaison to the Lawrence Township Education Foundation, which approves small grants to teachers.

Lawrence Township Councilman Michael Powers, who attended the awards ceremony, also thanked Groeger for her service. He said if he had not become an attorney, he would probably have become a teacher like Groeger.

“Think of all the students you have touched. I know my teachers have had a big impact on me. We are truly blessed to have you here,” Powers told Groeger.

Groeger joins a long list of Woman of Excellence honorees from retired Lawrence Township Health Officer Carol Chamberlain to former Superintendent of Schools Crystal Edwards and Anne Demarais, who pushed for greenway trails throughout the township.

Previous award winners included Carol Nicholas of the Greater Mercer Public Health Partnership; Belinda Silver, who is a proponent of sustainability; Brooke Hunter, a Rider University history professor and administrator, who has focused on Lawrence Township history; and Darlene Hanley, the retired president and chief executive officer of Morris Hall/St. Lawrence Inc.

GEPNA’s mission is to promote and preserve business growth and community life in the Eldridge Park neighborhood by enhancing its diversity, sustainability, vitality, beauty, history and economic development, officials said.

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