The Haddonfield board of education meeting on Jan. 12 began with the swearing in of its newest member Michael Nuckols, who was absent from the reorganization session a week prior.
That was followed by a recognition ceremony for the nine winners of the Governor’s Educator of the Year and Educational Support Person of the Year awards, announced in December.
“It’s without a doubt the thing that makes the school district so special, aside from our students are teachers,” said awards coordinator and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Gino Priolo. “I’ve had the pleasure of working in this school district now for 18 years, and I’m always in awe of the dedication, the passion and the commitment that the teachers in Haddonfield bring to our classrooms and to our student lives each and every day.”
Winners were judged in categories that included being an exceptionally skilled and dedicated educator and playing an active role in the community as well as the school. Priolo said the recognition committee received more than 200 nominations, nearly 50 percent of which came from students.
“I think that really says a lot and shines an even brighter light on the educators celebrated tonight,” she noted.
Award recipients included: Leigh Anne Gaffney, Central Elementary teacher, grade 3; Barbara O’Shaughnessy, Central Elementary educational assistant; Miranda Yaniak, Haddon Elementary teacher, grade 3; Sophie Nelson, media specialist at Haddon and Tatem elementary schools; Mary Hall, Tatem Elementary teacher, grade 5; Michele Barranger, Haddonfield Middle School nurse; Daneen Scott, HMS special education teacher; Ron Smith, high-school science teacher; and Steven Fluharty, high-school counselor.
Haddonfield High Principal Tammy McHale recognized Smith for his love of environmental science and the passion he instills in students. Fluharty was cited for the care and individualized support and attention he gives students. Scott was acknowledged for her grace. Middle-school Principal Hamisis Tarrant recalled the day that when he announced Scott had been named a winner, other teachers cheered.
“It was like they won the award,” Tarrant said.
Barranger was recognized for her caring nature as a nurse and middle-school Principal Gerry Bissinger acknowledged Yaniak for creating a warm and inviting classroom. Nelson was acknowledged for making the library a lively place and making kids feel important.
Tatem Principal Donetta Beatty expressed how loved Hall is by her students and her tremendous impact on the community. Neither Central honoree.
Smith was cited for inspiring his students.
“When you look at the definition of a great teacher, it’s seriously Mr. Smith,” said Tammy McHale, high-school principal. “ .. He does inspire students to want to go out and major in environmental science and continue in the field, but those who don’t, it still impacts their life now.”
As agreed upon last year, the board of ed also announced it was establishing a new student life committee to be headed by Meg Hollingworth. The first meeting will be on Jan. 19 to define the group’s goals and performance measures; those will be reported at the board’s meeting on the same date.
During his report, school Superintendent Chuck Klaus announced that the administration building had moved from Lincoln Avenue to 95 Grove St. He also gave an update on the bias-related acts policy raised last October that would require the district to report any and all bias-related acts to the police.
“We sent a resolution to the Department of Education saying we philosophically disagree with the most recent code requiring all bias acts to be reported regardless of circumstance, severity or nature,” Klaus pointed out.
“The law enforcement, the state unit, the unified state law-enforcement MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) – all school districts have the same law enforcement MOA – says it’s at the discretion of the superintendent based on the severity and nature of the act,” he added.
Klaus spoke with the Camden County Prosecutor Grace MacAulay, who agreed language in the MOA and the new code are contradictory. MacAulay said she will consult the federal Department of Justice on the subject in upcoming weeks.
The next board of education meeting will be on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.