A View of Our 2023-2024 GEOY Recipients
Through the Eyes of their Principals
Countryside Elementary School
Dawn Yushchak has been selected as the Governor’s Educator of the Year for Countryside Elementary School. She has been making learning fun for the students in her classroom for more than thirty years and has taught kindergarten, pre-first, first, second, and third grades: ,she is an expert in early childhood education.
Mrs. Yushchak is a role model to her students. She designs instruction that accommodates the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students. She is loved and respected by our community, earned by demonstrating and modeling integrity in her interactions with them.
Mrs. Dawn Yushchak works closely with many colleagues and administrators at her current school, as well as at her former school, Larchmont Elementary. She regularly reaches out to grade level peers throughout the district to collaborate on new initiatives. She maintains a high level of integrity and makes everyone feel respected and valued. Mrs. Yushchak is currently serving as a mentor to a new teacher, as she has done unofficially for so many teachers over the years.
Mrs. Dawn Yushchak is the kind of teacher that inspires children to want to become teachers when they grow up. In fact, one of her former second grade students is now working alongside her as her grade level partner. She is truly an inspiration. I cannot think of a person more deserving of the Governor’s Educator of the Year Award than Dawn Yushchak.
Fleetwood Elementary School
Mrs. McBride exhibits a high degree of professionalism in her position as a first-grade teacher at Fleetwood Elementary School. She is known for her positive attitude and hard work ethic in all her interactions and professional duties. Mrs. McBride is a lifelong learner who continues to look for ways to enhance her career. She is admired by her students, parents, and fellow colleagues and we are proud to have her as our Fleetwood Teacher of the Year!
Hillside Elementary School
Mrs. Sonnie is the true definition of what the Governor’s Educator of the Year is all about. Mrs. Sonnie has been teaching at Hillside for 12 years. She holds two degrees, one in Elementary Education and a Masters degree in School Administration. She also holds her Supervisor Certificate.
She is truly dedicated to the teaching profession, and she is exceptionally skilled at her craft. At Hillside, she is seen as a teacher leader which is a role that suits her quite well. She is a quick learner who knows how to zero in on students’ needs while showing teachers new ways of teaching math concepts.
One of the qualities that Mrs. Sonnie possesses which I find most admirable is her philosophical belief in addressing the needs of the whole child. She has the ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities through her creative and innovative approaches. Over my years at Hillside, this has been duly noted by the parents of her former students.
Mrs. Sonnie remains deeply invested in teaching and nurturing every student she comes in contact with as an educator. She is and always will be a remarkable educator. The Hillside School community is so very fortunate to have such a dedicated educator.
Larchmont Elementary School
It is my pleasure to nominate a phenomenal teacher here at Larchmont Elementary School. Mrs. Younglove is an outstanding educator! She takes the necessary time and care to create a nurturing environment for all students, where they feel safe to learn, grow, and collaborate.
Mrs. Younglove has a wealth of knowledge in effective classroom management strategies. She utilizes these strategies to explicitly teach students expectations and encourage them to be 21st century learners. Throughout the school day, she motivates her students to problem solve and persevere when faced with academic, social, or emotional challenges. Mrs. Younglove holds each of her students to high standards in an equitable, nurturing manner. She energetically greets each student with a smile and models Larchmont’s school expectations: be respectful, be kind, and be responsible.
In her classroom, Mrs. Younglove provides ample opportunities for her students to collaborate and explore. She is constantly observing and evaluating her students' progress so she can make informed instructional decisions and communicate any positive results or concerns with families.
She has led professional developments and works hard beyond school hours to learn more about best practices in the classroom. Mrs. Younglove balances this all with grace and compassion. Mrs. Younglove is well-deserving of this year’s Educator of the Year Award!
Parkway Elementary School
It is with great honor that we would like to nominate Mr. Barker for this distinguished award.
Our son had the privilege of having Mr. Barker as his remote third grade teacher for the 2020-2021 school year. Despite the challenges and daunting tasks of full remote learning, Mr. Barker embraced virtual learning with an open mind and poise of a veteran teacher. In the comforts and safety of our homes, we witnessed, firsthand, the way in which Mr. Barker made each child feel connected, while at the same time, delivering exceptional instruction.
Mr. Barker’s varied skill set exceeds the confines of the classroom and earns him respect amongst his colleagues. He is very involved in the Teacher’s Union, in which he strives to establish a positive, safe, and professional school environment. In addition, he serves as one of the Site Based representatives, in which he advocates for the safety and well-being of all staff and students.
To us, Mr. Barker, truly embodies the definition of a hero-a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Because of Mr. Barker’s courage and noble qualities, he is admired and respected by so many.
Springville Elementary School
Kristine Vaughan is a respected special education teacher, an exceptional educator, and an asset to Springville and its special education program. Kristine teaches to encompass the whole child, academically and socially. She ensures all children strive to do their personal best. She fosters a love for learning, both through academic choice and working as a facilitator and mentor for students and colleagues. She pushes all students to reach their fullest potential, no matter their race, ability, gender, or background. She is an advocate for all student needs and for providing the best environment for each student to reach that full potential. She models acceptance and inclusion.
All staff at Springville know Kristine is someone they can turn to for advice. She has a wealth of knowledge for both the special needs and regular education populations. Kristine will help any teacher at any time. She has an open mind and is always willing to lend a helping hand, making everyone feel respected and valued. Kristine has a great rapport with parents, as well. She takes time to get to know her students, keeps lines of communication open and sends frequent parent updates. She is supportive of their needs and home environment and is the first to step in to lend a helping hand.
Kristine is a top-notch educator. She puts her heart and soul into assuring that her students are successful and all of their needs are met. She is a role model to her colleagues and is respected by all: staff, students, and parents. We are lucky to have Kristine Vaughan as a part of Springville. We cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of being recognized as the Governor's Educator of the Year!
Mount Laurel Hartford School
I am proud to endorse Colleen Zanger, our school's Library Media Specialist, for the Educational Services Professional of the Year. Colleen's exceptional talent and commitment to fostering a love for learning are evident through her effective instructional practices and the remarkable impact she has on student learning in our school.
Colleen has transformed our school library into a vibrant hub of intellectual curiosity and academic growth. Her innovative teaching methods engage students in meaningful ways, inspiring them to explore the world of literature, technology, and information literacy. Through carefully curated resources and dynamic lessons, Colleen has created an environment where students not only absorb knowledge but also develop critical thinking skills that extend beyond the classroom.
One of Colleen's outstanding strengths lies in her ability to adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of technology. She seamlessly integrates digital tools and resources into her lessons, equipping teachers and students with essential 21st-century skills. Her tech-savvy approach not only enhances the learning experience but also prepares students for the challenges they will face in an increasingly digital world.
Colleen's impact on student learning is not just anecdotal; it is measurable. Under her guidance, students consistently demonstrate improved research skills, information literacy, and a heightened appreciation for literature.
Colleen Zanger is a true asset to our school community. Her exceptional talents, as evidenced by her innovative instructional practices make her the ideal candidate for the Educational Services Professional of the Year award. Colleen's passion for education, dedication to student success, and ability to inspire a love for learning make her a deserving recipient of this honor.
Thomas E. Harrington Middle School
This letter of commendation is for Ms. Kimberly Coffield, who is a Basic Skills Instructor and our 2023-2024 Thomas E. Harrington Middle School New Jersey Governor’s Educator of the Year. As the Principal of Thomas E. Harrington Middle School and I have observed her providing support for our students on a number of occasions. Her professional approach with our students, her knowledge of mathematics, and the relationships she builds with the staff and the community make her an excellent candidate for the NJ Governor’s Teacher of the Year program.
Ms. Coffield understands that all students have different learning needs, and a variety of methodologies and approaches are needed to ensure the success of students in her classroom. Her math students are able to succeed due to the multiple approaches she takes with her lessons, and her colleagues benefit from having her present in their classrooms. She understands what it means to work collaboratively, having had to work in a team during her time at Thomas E. Harrington Middle School. Additionally, she has been an excellent resource for many in the community, and has led our eighth grade students on their field trip for many years.
Ms. Coffield is an educator who is a strong leader for all of the students and staff. A person of her caliber and expertise would benefit any school, and we are proud to call her our 2023-2024 Governor Educator of the Year for Thomas E. Harrington Middle School.