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Lazar Teacher of the Year Reflects on 9/11

One educator from each of the seven Montville schools was selected as Teacher of the Year in January.

Nancy Bostwick (center) was named Montville Township Teacher of the Year. This Lazar teacher was chosen from seven district teachers. One teacher was chosen from each Montville school (Credit: Sue Marinello)
Nancy Bostwick (center) was named Montville Township Teacher of the Year. This Lazar teacher was chosen from seven district teachers. One teacher was chosen from each Montville school (Credit: Sue Marinello)

One educator from each of the seven Montville schools was chosen as Teacher of the Year this month and last Thursday, one of the seven, Lazar’s Nancy Bostwick, was selected to represent the school district at the Morris County level. Here are your seven teachers of the year:

  • Trudy Coppola—Cedar Hill Elementary, Grade 3
  • Kelly Forst—Hilldale Elementary, Grade 2
  • Tina Janis—Woodmont Elementary, Grade 4
  • Tracy Stewart—Valley View Elementary, Basic Skills
  • Brooke Williams—William Mason Elementary, Grade 5
  • Nancy Bostwick—Lazar, Grade 8
  • Joe Di Giacomo—MTHS, Guidance

 “All seven of our building Teachers of the Year are wonderful educators,” said Paul Fried, Superintendent of Montville Township. “Naming the District Teacher of the Year, from among such a prestigious group, was certainly challenging.” 

The Montville Township Public School system has more than 600 teachers who support and a committee of administrators, parents, teachers, and a school board member chose Bostwick to represent the district at the county level, said Susan Conover Marinello, District Communications Officer. 

Prior to becoming a teacher, Bostwick worked for fifteen years in the World Trade Center. September 11, 2001 ended her first career as the Manager of Real Estate Paralegals for an international law firm, said Marinello.

“9/11 became more than just about no longer having a job to return to,” Bostwick recently wrote. “Like many, I felt lost and a bit out of sorts.”

Marinello said, Bostwick then began volunteering in her daughter’s fourth grade class. She helped all the students with class projects and activities. Ultimately she was drawn to assisting lower level students with reading projects. By the end of the year the classroom teacher, principal, and many parents thanked her for helping to improve the performance of the class, particularly among the lower level students. The classroom teacher then suggested Bostwick look into becoming a teacher.

“It had not dawned on me until that moment how happy and content I was in the classroom,” Bostwick said. “I was making a difference in the lives of these children.”

Bostwick, a 2006 graduate of the College of St. Elizabeth, has been teaching eighth grade language arts and literacy at Lazar for six years. She was a member of the Character Education Committee and Discipline Committee. She also served as a founding member of The Write Eye, Lazar’s student produced magazine that showcases student writing and artwork, according to Marinello.

“Nancy Bostwick is a wonderful teacher,” said Principal Sharon Carr. “She has such an inspiring story. Coming to teaching as a second career, she brings so much to the classroom. Her students really learn.”

The 2014 Teachers of the Year come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Here is a little about each one, according to Marinello.

Coppola has been teaching full-time for five years, and was a paraprofessional in kindergarten for nine years before that. She is known for building on her students’ previous knowledge, as well as her own, to enhance instructional strategies.

Di Giacomo has been in education for 33 years. He is highly regarded for helping students feel good about themselves and inspiring them to never give up on their aspirations.

Forst is 12 years into her teaching career. The hallmark of her teaching style is positive reinforcement. Her encouraging approach to learning is consistently credited by her students and their families for fostering excitement in learning.

Janis recently described herself as “a shy yet hard-working learner.” While her official teaching career spans 14 years, she has been described as a born teacher, and a teacher’s teacher.

Stewart’s father was a PE teacher and head football coach at Parsippany Hills High School for 38 years. She has been teaching for 23. Her skills as a Basic Skills teacher are held in high esteem by her colleagues as well as the students she has taught.

Williams has 15 years of teaching experience. Her specialty is in working with inclusion classes. She has consistently helped students to reach goals in even their most difficult subjects.

“I congratulate all of our Teachers of the Year,” said Fried. “To be chosen as Teacher of the Year is no small honor. It means you have gone above and beyond in helping students to learn and achieve, and that you are a leader and a role model for your peers.”

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