We are proud to welcome the following teachers to the Magic 98.3 Teachers Who Make Magic Class of 2022!

  • PAUL MEHNERT

    5th Grade Math Teacher
    Stony Brook Elementary School
    Nominated By: Stephanie Formus, Fellow Teacher

    Paul Mehnert is a 5th grade Math, Science & Social Studies Teacher at Stony Brook School in Branchburg, and has been educating students for over 9 years!

    Paul always looks for new ways to help students showcase what they learn. For example, at the end of a unit of learning on Native Americans, Paul had his students build “Darumas” and then use a green screen to take a picture.  The students then put themselves into their diorama and presented their learning!

    Paul is someone who goes above and beyond to get to know his students and their interests. He engages them daily during morning meetings with questions they’re comfortable sharing answers to, such as describing their favorite meal or TV Show.

    He coaches intermural sports and discusses basketball with his students.  He often gives them fun “nick-names” based on their interests or shared learning experiences during the year.  As if all of this wasn’t enough, Paul is also the Director of the annual Science Fair!

    For these reasons and many more, Paul Mehnert is now a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • NIPURNA SHAH

    College and Career Counselor
    Princeton High School 
    Nominated By: Dana Karas, Director of School Counseling

    This Educational Service Professional is the New Jersey Education Association ESP of the Year!

    Nipurna Shah is a College and Career Counselor at Princeton High School, and among her many tasks is to meet with each and every student in their 11th and 12th grade year to assist, support, and guide them through what can be a complicated and stressful process, as well as support her fellow counselor colleagues with activities and events for underclassmen.

    As Nipurna meets with students and their families, she does so with genuine care and a warm and inviting smile. Once students and families have engaged with her, they walk away from the experience recognizing that they have a staunch advocate and cheerleader in their corner who will make sure they get across the finish line achieving the goals that they have for themselves.

    Nipurna has to go above and beyond, as well as think outside the box for every event and activity that she takes on.  She creates and implements programs that provides access and opportunity to all students

    As the sole college counselor in a high school of over 1500 students, Nipurna identifies and implements monthly programs related to college and career readiness. This is inclusive of college panels, financial aid events, and college instant decision days. She is consistently taking the pulse of what is needed in the school community and responds appropriately, and this is why she’s an “ESP Who Makes Magic!”

  • ASHIA HERNANDEZ

    Kindergarten Teacher
    Columbus Elementary School
    Nominated By: Merita Euell, Vice Principal

    Ashia Hernandez teaches Kindergarten at Columbus Elementary School in Carteret, and creates the most interactive lessons that allow her students to learn through discovery. She doesn’t panic when they struggle and get things wrong; she guides them and corrects them.  Aside from being stellar in the classroom with instruction, she has a kind heart and truly cares for her students.

    She checks in on past students to see how they’re doing and asks about siblings and other family members.  She puts in the extra time to ensure all students are cared for, understand the lessons, and feel safe and nurtured in their learning environment.

    Colleagues ask her for additional help for their students on both an academic and behavioral level. She has taken on an additional caseload of students that require additional assistance, she runs the annual Tricky Tray and volunteers her free time for after school activities.  She tutors after school programs, and has a great rapport with families.

    For all these reasons and many more, Ashia Hernandez is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • DAVE DRAGANI

    Special Education Teacher
    Hillsborough Middle School
    Nominated By: Doris Levine, Instructional Assistant

    Dave Dragani is a Special Education teacher at Hillsborough Middle School for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. His students have impaired communication and social interactions, restrictive interests and difficulty working with change. As a result, his students’ display extremely challenging behaviors. They show signs of rage and have meltdowns, and their loss of control are exhibited in different manners depending on the student. When this happens, Dave has to ensure his student is safe from self-harm, while simultaneously protecting other students, Instructional Assistants, and staff members. Dave’s proven leadership helps set up his classroom for success.

    Dave develops a positive rapport with each of his students and staff, and implements customized reinforcement strategies for each student.  He rewards them for behaving in ways that are appropriate and productive, while supporting their continued personal growth.

    Dave’s “Work Readiness” program prepares his students to go on outings in the community, and get hands on experience on what it’s like to work at retail or food establishments. He teaches and reinforces basic etiquette and manners so that a family outing becomes more familiar and manageable.

    Under Dave’s supervision, students also assist other teachers and staff around the school, collecting the recycling bins from classrooms, watering plants, and helping with a successful mail delivery service. Dave is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and outside of his work in the district, he is an ABA Therapist for The Center for Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis providing one on one instruction for learners with autism and parent education in the home setting.

    For these wonderful reasons, Dave Dragani is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • SAIJU PATEL

    5th Grade Math Teacher
    Elizabeth Avenue School
    Nominated By: Alexandra Thomas, Teacher

    Sage Patel is a 5th grade math teacher at Elizabeth Avenue School in Somerset, and is always creating incredible engaging lessons and activities to help each child’s learning style. She provides support and tools for her students, and continues to develop professionally by enhancing her knowledge by collaborating with colleagues, researching and reading about new pedagogy in education.

    Anyone who walks into her classroom clearly sees the connection she has with her students. She selects morning songs to motivate and inspire everyone, and takes time to foster a positive relationship through the power of learning.

    Sage is also known as a leader as she participates in school events such as Family Math Nights, both in person and on zoom!  She invites colleagues into her classroom to see math in action, and is also a part of the Culture and Linguistic Response District Equity Team.

    Everyone at Elizabeth Avenue School is proud to have Sage Patel on their team, and for all these reasons, she’s now a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • SAMANTHA ACKERMAN

    First Grade Teacher
    Van Der Veer Elementary School
    Nominated By: Patricia Helwig, Fellow Teacher

    For the past 4 years, Samantha Ackerman has been teaching first grade at Van Der Veer Elementary School in Somerville, and anyone who’s observed her teaching style will tell you she makes her classroom a unique learning environment!   Students have fun while being educated, and her devotion to to the school community is evident.

    She’s been known to turn her classroom into a camping adventure, an ice cream shop, and even a  football stadium all to help her students learn. Samantha believes in continually educating herself with professional development classes and reading material to become a better teacher for her students.

    Samantha volunteers for various committees within the school community and is an active member of the Cultural Awareness Committee, District Equity Team, and attends literacy events.

    She’s a big proponent of “Going Green” and created a video about recycling for the Evening Learning Academy and participates in the yearly Polar Plunge for Special Olympics.

    For all of these reasons, Samantha Ackerman is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • BETTY BORTO

    ESL Teacher (English as a Second Language)
    Hillsborough Elementary School
    Nominated By: Cassandra Shannon, Fellow Teacher

    Betty Borto is an ESL Teacher (English as a Second Language) at Hillsborough Elementary School and has been working at a job that she loves for 22 years!

    She is dedicated, kind, inspirational, and has worked hard to build a culture of warmth and trust.  Betty goes above and beyond for her students and their families as she realizes it’s not easy speaking English as a second language.  You’ll often find her translating for families during school conferences and meetings. She also advocates for families who would otherwise not know what services are available, or what to ask for.  She also finds resources in the community and gets families the help they need.

    Over the years, Betty has obtained grants so that the ESL students could go on field trips.  Last year, she asked a local farmer for help with a virtual field trip, and that sparked interest from other local businesses to provide more virtual experiences!  She also works with the school and eye doctors to obtain free glasses for students.

    For all of these reasons and more, Betty Borto is now a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • KERI SCHULTZ

    Phys Ed and Health Teacher
    Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School
    Nominated By: Jennifer Scuderi, Education Specialist

    For the past 8 years, Keri Schultz has been a Phys Ed and Health Teacher at Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School, and anyone who’s worked with her describes her as kind, caring, flexible, resilient and strong!  She’s created curriculum that’s engaging and challenging, and has fostered bonds with students and fellow teachers.  There is no job she will refuse, from bus duty, lunch duty, coaching multiple sports and jumping in to help special needs children. She is a true professional and standout in the community!

    When BRMS closed and lost their building due to flooding, she drove in everyday and taught the special needs class in person along with going on line and teaching all her regular classes. She was the only teacher to do this for that population!

    In addition to teaching, Keri is also involved in a multitude of extracurricular activities, including field hockey coach, personal trainer, volunteer coach for special needs basketball, and chaperoning school events.

    Now Keri Schultz can add “Teacher Who Makes Magic” to her growing list of accomplishments!

  • JUDI SALVATORE

    4th Grade Teacher
    Minue School in Carteret
    Nominated by:  Chris Rozanski – Vice Principal & Lissette Quiroz – Parent of Student

    Judi Salvatore is a 4th grade teacher at Minue School in Carteret, and is known as an educator who goes above and beyond and develops a broad level of trust with students.

    This past year, a student had a difficult time adjusting to in-person learning and experienced terrible anxiety.  Judi took extra time to ensure the student felt comfortable, protected and safe. Although this example is related to only one student, her commitment to her students’ well-being and personal growth is what makes her stand out.

    In addition to Judi’s role as a 4th grade teacher, she also serves on the Minue School data team, acting as the SCIP leader for the entire school!  She’s a part of the culture & climate committee, and is the lead teacher of the after school intervention program and volunteers to organize and run the school safety patrol program.

    For all these reasons, Judi Salvatore is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

     

  • SUZANNE EICHERT

    Technology Teacher
    Joyce Kilmer Schoool
    Nominated By: Stephanie Brown, Superintendent

    Suzanne Eichert has been an educator for 21 years, and is currently a teacher of technology at Joyce Kilmer School in Milltown!

    Suzanne’s responsibilities encompass teaching instructional technology lessons AND acting as level 1 tech support to maintain and troubleshoot all technology issues!

    Suzanne is a valuable member of the district curriculum team and provides expertise in content area and technology integration, allowing for creative program planning and coding in many 21st century focused units. When the pandemic started, the district experienced a transition in the technology director position, and Suzanne assumed additional administrative responsibilities and was instrumental in making remote learning successful.

    Suzanne consistently steps in to help as a lunch aide, she oversees the parent drop-off loop in the morning, and recently coordinated the middle school Career Day!  She’s a Yearbook advisor, runs the Coding Club, and acts as National Junior Honor Society assistant advisor. Recently, she also stepped up to take on the role of staff photographer to capture school events in order to share and post these moments on social media.

    For all of these reasons and more, Suzanne Eichert is now a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • AMANDA PEREZ

    Special Education Teacher
    Whiton Elementary School
    Nominated By: Dee Shober, Principal

    Amanda Perez is a Special Education Teacher at Whiton Elementary School in Neshanic Station, and works with a variety of students with different needs.  While this could be challenging, Amanda handles anything that comes her way and is always kind, caring, and dedicated.  She’s patient with all students and is extremely appreciative of the help she receives from the classroom aides.

    These aides are an asset to Amanda as she works with them to ensure each student receives instruction tailored to their individual needs.  Should an after school meeting or phone call be required, Amanda makes herself available.  She is flexible to make anything work, all for the benefit of her students.  She models the importance of high expectations while balancing when to push students to excel.  She has a keen sense of how to “read the room” each day and that enables her to determine the learning outcome.

    Amanda also works with homeroom teachers so that her students can participate in various activities and learning experiences.  She is an important part of the “Child Study Team” at Whiton Elementary and collaborates with her colleagues.  For all these reasons and more, Amanda Perez is now a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • COLLEEN RABA

    Kindergarten  Teacher
    Franklin High School
    Nominated By: Sidney Dawson, Principal

    Colleen Raba is a Kindergarten Teacher at Livingston Park School in North Brunswick, and for the past 12 years, she’s amazed anyone who’s observed her in the classroom!  She has a command of the curriculum and lessons are thoughtfully crafted to work for all students. Colleen makes each and every lesson engaging so it’s no surprise to see students singing, dancing and moving around the room!  She makes them pay attention and focus, but they’re also having fun and they love every minute!  Colleen is also great with parents. She’s responsive, informative and collaborative, and families often request to have their children in her classroom.

    Colleen embodies excellence on a professional level and embraces challenges with a can-do attitude. She leads her team members to embrace new approaches and has mentored countless new students and student teachers, and always works to support her colleagues.

    She radiates positivity, warmth and kindness, and in her students’ eyes, she is the most interesting person in the world. Colleen is a master teacher, and designs lessons so well that an entire class of 5 year olds hang on every word!

    Her instruction is captivating to watch, and she is especially talented at finding different ways for children to show they understand. To her students, she’s a dynamic teacher that can make anything interesting, and to colleagues and parents, she’s the friendliest, most down to earth person you could ever meet!   These are the reasons why Colleen Raba is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • MEGAN PSCHAR

    Special Education Teacher
    Derveer Elementary School
    Nominated By: Michelle Lanouette, Fellow Teacher

    Megan Pschar is a Special Education Teacher at Van Derveer Elementary School in Somerville, and has been a teacher for over 17 years!  Students love Megan, and so do her co-workers.  She’s always willing to help fellow educators with various projects or an added item to make a lesson “pop!”  She’s willing to share resources, and no task is mundane.  From making copies to helping with lesson plans, Megan is there every day with her winning “can do” attitude, and everyone appreciates her tenacity to make the school environment a better place.

    Megan has wonderful rapport with her students and takes the time to get to know a little bit about each one.   She’s always looking to make lessons engaging, and allows students to explore a little on their own so it leads to more learning. Her classroom environment is safe, fun, and supportive which helps students grow socially and academically.

    Outside the classroom, Megan is active on many committees, and they’re not all ones she’s joined herself!  So many people think of her first and ask her to volunteer because her input and expertise is valued!  Megan Pschar is amazing, patient and kind, and now she’s also a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • KAREN JENNINGS

    English Teacher
    Franklin High School
    Nominated By: Jennifer Jones, Fellow Teacher

    Karen Jennings has been teaching English for over 22 years, and is currently working at Franklin High School in Somerset.  Anyone who’s come in contact with her agrees she gives her heart and soul to her students, and plans exciting and interesting lessons for all who enter her classroom!

    She takes the time to get to know each student and provides a warm, educational environment to help all in her classroom thrive.  Karen’s current students look forward to taking her classes, and former students always keep in touch.  Even during remote learning, Karen’s warm smile and welcoming personality were both evident, and parents always comment how lucky their children are to be taught Literature and Writing by such a wonderful educator.

    Outside the classroom, Karen is an advisor for the K-Pop club which focuses on Korean culture and is also participating in the Green Sustainability Committee.   It’s evident that Karen Jennings loves what she does, and this is why she’s now a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • KYLIE BERKO

    Kindergarten Teacher
    Hillcrest Elementary School
    Nominated By: Lindsay Sheffrin, Fellow Teacher

    For the past 5 years, Kylie Berko has been teaching Kindergarten at Hillcrest and anyone she comes in contact with says she’s the kindest, caring and most genuine teacher they know!  She believes all students have the ability to learn, and her passion for her chosen profession is evident the moment you walk into her classroom

    Kylie realized early on how the pandemic was going to be hard on many young children, so she took it upon herself to create a YouTube channel where she reads children’s books to her students and anyone else who’s watching!   She also reached out to the famous educational children’s musician, Jack Hartmann, and asked him to send a special video to her class to let them know how proud he was of them for working so hard at home and learning through his videos!

    Every year before winter break Kylie’s grandmother knits a hat and scarf for each one of her kindergarteners to make sure they stay warm and bundled up in the cold winter months! She then wraps them up beautifully so they each receive a present during the holidays!

    Kylie goes above & beyond as a teacher every single day with her amazing hands-on lessons that engage all of her students, and also dedicates her own personal time and participates in all events, either in person or virtual!  She is also an active member of the PTO and serves on its executive board.  For all of these reasons and many more, Kylie Berko is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • KRISTEN CARDONA

    8th Grade Language Arts Teacher 
    Branchburg Central Middle School
    Nominated By: Mathew Barbosa 

    Kristen Cardona teaches 8th Grade Language Arts at Branchburg Central Middle School and has been with them for 12 years!  She is a creative teacher who is constantly developing her practice. She collaborates with other teachers to share ideas and learn from her colleagues. She is very organized and detail oriented. Her well organized lessons allow her students to take control of their learning so Kristen can step back and take on more of a coaching role.

    She is often involved in leadership with the student council as they work to raise funds for the school’s designated charity, The Meghan Rose Bradley Foundation. She has created multiple methods for students to showcase their understanding of literature, from an in person “Escape Room” to student created book trailer premieres. She has incorporated technology in meaningful ways with a gamification unit that utilizes online gaming in an academic manner as well as learning new techniques for podcasting. She collaborates with other staff to create grade level and building wide events that connect student learning to real-world experiences. Students in Kristen’s class explore, collaborate and demonstrate their learning in a myriad of ways that tie the curriculum into their lives and the real world.

    Kristen is also the school’s athletic coordinator and organizes tryouts, medical information and competition with other schools.  The school staff nominate each other to receive a Falcon Award and the winner gets to wear a superhero cape for the month so students can ask about the teacher’s superpower.  Kristen Cardona has won this award, and now she can add “Teacher Who Makes Magic” to her ever growing list of accomplishments!

  • MARC ROSNER

    Special Education Teacher
    Raritan High School
    Nominated By: Ada McCrady, Fellow Teacher

    Marc Rosner is a Special Education Teacher at Raritan High School in Hazlet, and has been with the school for 5 years!  His teaching style is full of creativity & passion, and because of these qualities, he makes a daily impact on his students.

    He continually researches the best practices to provide his students with hands-on learning experience, and has the ability to build relationships with each student. Marc possesses the knowledge and ability to differentiate material for students on different levels and his lesson planning ensures a successful execution that addresses all individualized needs. He’s worked hard to create an environment where each student plays an important role in their learning, and has a sense of pride when goals are met or a task is completed.

    Marc has been an integral part of the of the “AMPED UP” team- a program designed to give Special Education students real world work experience at the in house coffee and school spirit shops.

    Outside the classroom, Marc is a dedicated coach to the Special Olympics and the high school Softball team.  He has a positive working relationship with fellow teachers and staff and is incredibly giving of his time and willingness to help others.  This is why Marc Rosner is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • MATT ZIMMERMAN

    Technology Teacher
    Stone Brook Elementary School
    Nominated By: Kristen Kries, Principal

    For the past 9 years, Matt Zimmerman has been a Technology Teacher at Stony Brook Elementary School in Somerville, and anyone who comes in contact with him says the same thing:  He’s the kind of guy everyone should get to know!  He provides support and mentorship for all of his students, and always finds ways to engage everyone who’s in his classroom. He strives to include relevant learning experiences that make taking his class exciting and fun!

    One recent project Matt asked of his students was to have them research disabilities and create a learning environment that would best meet the needs of those who would be partaking.  Matt works to make inclusion a must for all students while understanding individual needs. He also supports the staff with technology assistance when anyone has an issue.

    Matt created a meditation and coding club to allow students to learn mind full strategies while encouraging their love technology, and was a recent “secret guest” at a school fundraiser for childhood cancer that raised over 10,000!

    Matt also serves as a “Parent Pick-Up Coordinator” and happily passes along good news to parents as they retrieve their kids after the school day.  For all of these reasons, and many more, Matt Zimmerman is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • THAYER JENNINGS

    English Teacher
    Franklin Middle School
    Nominated By: Dr. N Solomon, Principal

    Thayer Jennings has been a teacher in Franklin Township for the past 17 years and she truly embodies all of the characteristics of an educator. As we all know, an educator is many things these days: a master of their subject area, a data-analyst, counselor, confidante, role model and a consummate professional.

    Thayer plans extensive lessons to incorporate all manners of current events and relevant material to help students learn. She constantly reflects on how her students are engaging with the material to ascertain how much comprehension is taking place. In an effort to help their understanding, she constantly assesses and researches the best ways to approach material.  She teaches some of the most rigorous classes that Franklin High School has to offer including Advanced Placement English Language and Composition.  She helps students find their voices and so they can be prepared for the future.   She pushes them to be the best versions of themselves, and makes sure they know how to do the work and what they’ll need to succeed.

    Thayer started at Franklin Middle School as an 8th grade teacher and now teaches 5 classes of “English 11” and “English 11 AP” at Franklin High School. No one works harder for her students and fits the role of an outstanding educator more than Thayer.  She is a constant mentor and role model to the kids around her–past, present and future. Thayer empowers young people to aspire to her level of professionalism and hard work through her dedication and participation and vocal support for the community she lives in and serves.  This is why Thayer Jennings is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

  • CHRISTINE LAWLOR

    ASI Reading Teacher
    Eisenhower Elementary School
    Nominated By: Nina Obryk, Supervisor for the district. 

    Christine Lawlor is an educator at Eisenhower Elementary School in Parlin, and has been an ASI Reading Teacher for over 21 years!  She’s a life-long learner, a champion of children, and an inspiration to all who know her.

    Christine’s knowledge and expertise are unmatched, and she’s always focused on implementing strategies that help her to target individual student needs and provide a solid foundation for learning.  She works tirelessly to find instructional methods and techniques that “click” with her students, relying not only on her own extensive education but on self-driven research and the input of skilled colleagues.

    Christine is cognizant of the importance of family involvement in a child’s education and forges positive relationships to promote this connection. She participates in evening family activities willingly and eagerly to strengthen the bond between school and home.  Christine also volunteers as PTO Parent-Teacher Liaison. She supports students’ social-emotional learning on a daily basis and understands its impact on academic achievement. She also serves on her building’s SEL Committee and is considered to be one of the District’s Responsive Classroom experts, and has also assumed a leadership role among the staff and is looked upon to mentor new teachers.  She is often the person that’s sought out when a tough issue arises in the classroom or if a fellow teacher is unsure how to help a student.

    Christine Lawlor exemplifies all that an educator should be and is very deserving of her latest accomplishment of becoming a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”