We are proud to welcome the following teachers to the Magic 98.3 Teachers Who Make Magic Class of 2017, presented by the New Jersey Education Association.


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Laura Felker
Triangle Road School
Nominated by: Angela Cleveland, School Counselor

Laura Felker is an administrative assistant at Triangle Road School, and all of her co workers say she’s more than just the friendly face you see in the front office! She’s dedicated to helping families feel welcome, kids feel safe, and make the school a better place!

From organizing community events, to undertaking school wide initiatives, she’s always ready, willing and able to help get the job done.   When it comes to being tech savvy, Laura’s got it down, and it’s no surprise than many teachers ask her for help on how to get things done.

Outside of work, Laura knits and makes blankets for an organization called “Project Linus.” This organization takes these blankets and donates them to children in need.

Laura doesn’t think of her job as something she does between 9 and 5. She stays until the work gets done, and puts her heart and soul into everything.   She’s a team player, and a big asset to the Hillsborough School Community.   This is why Laura Felker has been named the “ESP Who Makes Magic!”

Diane Lyons
Auten Road Intermediate
Nominated by: Megan Stives, Fellow Teacher

Diane Lyons teaches 5th grade at Auten Road Intermediate School, and knows how to utilize the latest technology and computer programs to enhance her lessons. All students are treated with respect and kindness, and encouraged to do their best. Diane also provides “second chance” learning opportunities when needed, and her lessons are consistently paced in a manner to help all succeed.

While the goal is obviously to make sure all students learn and absorb the lessons, she also knows how to make things fun. A recent assignment was called “Read and Write Like a Historian” and involved two students having a text conversation on their Chromebooks, acting and writing as the famous people they researched. One portrayed Henry Ford, while the other was Bill Gates, and the end results were fascinating!

Diane presents a step by step preview of what will be occurring in class each day, so all students have a clear understanding of the lessons. Questions are encouraged, and clarification is provided. Diane Lyons does everything she can to ensure her students learn and grow and actually enjoy their time in the classroom, and this is why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

JoAnn Getz
Hillsborough Middle School
Nominated by: Mildred Pincus, Instructional Assistant

JoAnn Getz is a 7th grade Math teacher at Hillsborough Middle School, and is one of those teachers you wish you would have had when learning math as a kid!

Every lesson is explained in detail, and you can see every eye and ear is focused in on her. By presenting a math joke, riddle, or brain teaser, she makes it fun, all while making sure students are engaged and absorbing everything.

She is always available during lunch hour, after hours, or early morning, too. Students know they can ask if she’ll spend a few extra minutes explaining something, and she cheerfully says yes. Her goal is to make math a fun subject to learn, and students appreciate the effort.

Math can be tough, but Joann Getz makes it a bit easier and understandable, and this is why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Jean Szkodny
Harry S. Truman School
Nominated by: Sharon Lasko & Christina Kiernan, Co-workers

Four years ago, Jean Szkodny started teaching at Harry S. Truman school in Parlin, and everyone immediately noticed her incredible spirit! She is around children with special needs, and constantly works on new activities with her students, all while creating hands on learning opportunities. Her lessons are interactive and geared toward each child’s strength.

While she has high expectations, she knows how to make learning fun. For example, you may find her students roaming the hallways of the school looking for sight words while wearing hats & holding magnifying glasses! Jean acts as their biggest advocate, even if that means extra hours of work and time away from her own family.

Jean is also a driving force for parent involvement. The school recently hosted a night where parents came in with their children to learn new reading, math, and phonics activities, all while getting a “photo op” in a booth complete with props! Over 450 people attended this event, and it was informative and fun.

Jean Szkodny has an admirable work ethic and passion for her profession, and this is why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Angela Swercheck
Judd Elementary School
Nominated by: Jennifer Jones, fellow teacher

Angela Swercheck teaches 5th grade at Judd Elementary School, and anyone who comes in contact with her sees how much she supports her students! She devotes time and energy into every lesson to ensure all students understand what is being taught.

Fellow teachers say she is the energetic “yes” woman of the 5th grade! She’s always willing to help with any activity and makes it look easy and fun. For example, you’ll see her scooping ice cream at Judd’s “Fun Night,” or helping to monitor students at plays and concerts. She can also be spotted shooting hoops for the teacher’s basketball team or stepping in as a judge in the school’s cake decorating contest!

Angela also has an amazing relationship with all parents and keeps them informed on their child’s progress.   She’ll make time for anyone, even if it’s outside of regular classroom hours, and it’s because she simply loves what she does. Her energy, dedication and professional demeanor are evident, and this is why Angela Swercheck is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Emily Amon
Franklin Park School
Nominated by: Nicole Sury, Principal

Learning is fueled by curiosity, and Science Specialist Emily Amon is exceptional in sparking the curiosity of the 3rd and 4th grade students of Franklin Park School. She has an extraordinary passion for Science and inspires students to investigate and discover through thoughtful, challenging, and innovative tasks.

Emily works diligently with other staff members and students in making Franklin Park School’s courtyard garden a success. She leads in the planning and readying of garden plots and helps students plant and harvest the crops. She is also a key planner of the annual Science Fair, an event that provides members of the school community an opportunity to view displayed science projects of students, participate in hands on experiments, and discover new inventions and technologies.

As a community naturalist, Emily serves as a caretaker and oversees the Bunker Hill Environmental Center. Through her hard work and determination, students are now able to visit this extremely valuable resource to observe and learn from the surrounding natural beauty of the site.

For all these reasons, Emily Amon is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Dawn Civitello
Mile Square Early Learning Center in Hoboken
Nominated by: Amanda Enrico, Fellow Teacher

Dawn Civitello is a dedicated, hardworking and loving Pre K teacher at Mile Square Early Learning Center in Hoboken. Students, teachers, and even parents see the love she has for her profession is evident, and she looks forward to being in the classroom each day to help foster a love of learning.

Dawn is not only an outstanding teacher but a mom to a 3 year old boy named who was born with a deformity of his left hand. She would always say “The mom in me wanted to to protect my son, and the teacher in me knew the best way to do that was to educate and help spread awareness.” She wrote a book, entitled “5 Fingers and 10 Toes,” to help spread awareness, but more importantly, let children know that it’s “okay” to be different.

Dawn’s goal is to teach all children to be kind, regardless of any differences, and as a result, her students have open minds and are receptive to anyone and anything. She leaves a lasting impression on everyone she meets, and this is why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic.”

Anusha Narayanarao
Conerly Road School
Nominated by: Dr. Donna S. Burnett, Principal

Anusha Narayanarao teaches First Grade at Conerly Road School in Franklin Township, and fellow teachers say she goes above and beyond to ensure all students are engaged and love to learn. She knows how to incorporate technology in classroom lessons so her students become critical thinkers and problem solvers.

While she holds her students to high standards, the atmosphere in the classroom is positive, and all students display a spirit of confidence, and it shows by the way the respond to her teaching methods.

She creates a bond with her students, and as a result, they’re learning more, and looking forward to coming into school each day!

Anusha Narayanarao enjoys working with children and wants them to reach their dreams through the power of education. She believes all children should be empowered and have a chance to make a contribution in the world, and this is why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Laurie Skop
Raritan High School
Nominated by: Ada McCrady, Fellow Teacher

Laurie Skop teaches English at Raritan High School, and possesses aa beautiful smile, enthusiastic personality, and warm heart. She exudes a deep commitment to equality and the belief that every student can learn. She sets high expectations in her classroom and works tirelessly to help all students absorb knowledge, and learn and grow.

One of her most notable accomplishments is the work she’s doing with work Raritan High School’s Gay Straight Alliance. As the founder of the organization, Laurie is an ally to the LGBTQ community, and an advocate to ensure students feel safe, supported, and empowered. She also arranged for staff training to help create a learning environment where LGBTQ students could feel comfortable in the classroom. Her passion for the organization has sent a tremendous message to the school, and that is that everyone needs to take a stand against hate.

Laurie Skop works tirelessly to be a student advocate, giving them the confidence to advance in their academic career and beyond. Her care and concern is evident to everyone, and this is why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Sharon Seiwert
MacAfee Road School
Nominated by: William Grippo, Principal

MacAfee Road SchoolFor the past 12 years, Sharon Seiwert has been teaching at MacAfee Road School in Somerset, and is a strong proponent of children and technology. Every year, she coordinates the “Hour of Code” for the entire school. The purpose of this initiative is to bring computer programming to the forefront of learning for all students.

Sharon also organized the “Global Day Of Service” through New Jersey Cares. As a result of her latest effort, the school got a face lift and new outdoor furniture was constructed!  She was also instrumental in creating the outdoor garden where students can read and reflect in a tranquil environment. All of this may be serious work, but Sharon also knows how to have some fun, and coordinates the annual “Ugly Sweater Day” for MacAfee each December!

Sharon Seiwert has spirit, energy, and commitment to her profession. She puts her students first, and for all these reasons, she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Tara-Lynn Walter
Sampson G. Smith School
Nominated by: Rosemary King, Literary Coach

Sampson G Smith SchoolTara-Lynn Walter is a Sixth Grade English Language Arts Teacher at Sampson G. Smith School in Franklin Township, and anyone who walks into her class room can see how hard she works for her students. She collaborates with fellow faculty members to find relevant content, and is an active participant in common planning, sharing success stories and challenges. She’s also a familiar face at Teachers College Summer and Saturday professional development sessions!

Tara also serves as a volunteer advisor for the “After school Book Club.” Approximately two dozen students who are reading above grade level attend this club, and she leads them through deeper engagement and analysis of challenging but fun novels! Another perk of this club is students occasionally get to speak with the authors, too! This is particularly impressive considering that Tara serves in a volunteer capacity and works without a budget!

Tara’s love and passion for her chosen profession are visible in classroom decorations, and she even wears literature themed clothes every Friday!   Tara Lynn Walter can now add “Teacher Who Makes Magic” to her never ending story!

Amy Regan
Hillsborough Elementary School
Nominated by: Kimberly Wright, Fellow Teacher

Amy Regan teaches first grade at Hillsborough Elementary School, and knows how to make learning fun and exciting! She creates lessons that not only meet the tough curriculum standards, but also incorporate art and culture. Her teaching methods include creating poems, singing songs, and drawing pictures that include something that pertains to the daily lessons.

Amy also knows how to differentiate learning for each child, and is a fantastic role model for fellow teachers. At least year’s holiday sing along, a student was upset that their Santa Hat was missing a pom pom. Along came Amy, needle and thread in hand, to quickly fix the hat, and then got up and sang with the class!

Amy is always seeking out new ways to infuse fresh ideas into her teaching style. By doing this, she’s confident her first graders will continue to reach their full potential. She’s an advocate for her students to get the services they require, and spends many hours a week communicating with parents and other staff members to ensure that each child’s needs are met.

For all these reasons and more, Amy Regan is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Elizabeth Sato
Metuchen High School
Nominated by: Christine DeSimone, Supervisor of Music, Art & World Language

Metuchen High SchoolElisabeth Sato joined the Metuchen High School district as the Orchestra Director three years ago, and since her arrival, the Music Department hasn’t been the same—in a GOOD way! She’s an excellent violinist who brings her talent, enthusiasm and love of music to the students. Her standards are high, and the students have responded each year by playing better and better.

In just 3 short years, Elisabeth has developed more opportunities for the students to play. For example, at the middle school, she strengthened the orchestra program by incorporating the 8th graders in a joint rehearsal with the high school students! She was also instrumental in creating “Orchestra Day,” a once a year celebration of string music for anyone in grades 5 and above. A field trip to the New York Philharmonic featured music that the high school orchestra played in concert, giving them greater insight into the music they were learning.

For students who are interested in learning chamber music, she created a small group that meets once a week, and, she started a yearly tradition of playing holiday music in the High School lobby on the last day of school before winter break! Oh, and these “lobby concerts” have also delighted 8th grade parents when they attend high school orientation meetings.

Elisabeth also started the Asian Heritage Club, bringing together an increasing population of students to learn about their culture and share their ideas. She has tremendous pride in her students, enjoys their achievements and celebrates their performances. More importantly, she’s keeping the music alive and sharing her love of the arts will all who enter her classroom. This is why Elisabeth Sato is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Patrick Heck
Hillsborough Middle School
Nominated by: Kathleen Fogle, Fellow Teacher

Hillsborough Middle SchoolPatrick Heck teaches 8th grade literacy at Hillsborough Middle School, and while his teaching style is creative and consistent, he strives to vary his teaching methods, blending direct instruction with technology, and as a result, students are engaged and want to learn.

He maintains very high classroom standards, yet makes learning accessible to all students, regardless of their ability. He enjoys collaborating with fellow teachers to make the classroom learning experience positive and fun, especially for those with hyperactivity disorder and autism. As a result, the “budding writers” at Hillsborough Middle School blossom into strong students of literacy with improved vocabulary and advanced skills.

In such a short time, Pat has perfected his teaching methods, and it’s due to his enthusiasm, work ethic, and desire to succeed in his chosen profession. He has quite a command of the English language, loves literacy, and continues to work hard so his students have a solid foundation to continue their academic career. This is why Pat Heck is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Kelly Mehring
Amsterdam Elementary School
Nominated by: Dr. Mary Ann Mullady, Principal

Amsterdam Elementary SchoolKelly Mehring teaches First Graders at Amsterdam Elementary School in Hillsborough, and had a wonderful foundation, because she was once a student at the same place she teaches!

She possesses a strong dedication to her craft. and has an uncanny understanding of young children. She enthusiastically shares strategies and positive teaching techniques with the school staff during faculty meetings, workshops and after school meetings.

Her drive for excellence, enthusiasm for learning, and compassion for the young child continues well after the school day ends. She contributes regularly to the school community, teaches summer programs, attends professional workshops, and has even provided home instruction for a student who was unable to attend class. She’s a member of the school’s Character Education Committee, and can often be found participating in school-wide assemblies and presentations.

Kelly Mehring has an unbeatable combination of talent, a sense of community, and dedication to excellence, and all of these things have earned her the honor of being a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Deborah Cooke
Franklin Township Schools
Nominated by: Carolyn Armstrong, Fellow Teacher

Franklin Township SchoolsDeborah Cooke has been a dedicated teacher in the Franklin Township Schools for over 10 years, and works non stop to make sure her students feel loved, special, and absorbs all the knowledge she imparts in the classroom. She instills a sense of confidence and values in all her students, and incorporates fun learning elements, too!

Her lessons are creative, thoughtful, and incorporate pop culture and classic literature so students are engaged, active learners! For example, one recent lesson incorporated song lyrics that were posted around the room, and students worked in groups to identify the issues the songs addressed, and how they were tied into literature.

Deborah Cooke is a master at her craft, but doesn’t shy away from sharing her expertise with fellow teachers and colleagues. She’s always willing to go the extra mile to ensure learning is fun, and her students are ready for the next step in their academic career.   This why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Vincent Cuccaro
Hillsborough High School
Nominated by Jennifer Hopson, Fellow Teacher

Hillsborough High SchoolVincent Cuccaro teaches English at Hillsborough High School, and fellow teachers and students say he’s a super star! He’s not only prepared each day to teach engaging, fun lessons, but takes the time to understand and relate to all his students. He checks out what music they listen to, follows their trends, and keeps an eye on everything at Hillsborough High!

By doing this, he create bonds with his students, and as a result, they’re learning more, and looking forward to his classes! He may incorporate song lyrics, fashion trends, or pop culture in the classroom, but it’s all to make the lessons memorable.

High school student’s personalities are sometimes hard to figure out, or even please, but Vincent Cuccaro has found a way to make all students who attend Hillsborough High want to come to school each day.   This is why he’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Courtney Kuboski
Triangle Elementary School
Nominated by: Deborah Mamawala, Instructional Assistant

Courtney Kuboski is a dedicated teacher at Triangle Elementary School who strives to give her special needs students both an individualized curriculum as well as a variety of hands-on projects. She integrates her students into the mainstream population of the school by frequently inviting them into other classrooms to act as helpers or role models for various projects.

Courtney maintains a school Instagram page and uploads daily classroom photos so parents can feel a part of their child’s daily activities. She also runs the annual daddy/daughter dance with fellow teachers and volunteers for a variety of school-wide activities.

She is also one of the leaders of the school staff “Sunshine Committee” and creates a number of social events such as the annual holiday party and monthly luncheons.  For all these reasons and many more, Courtney Kuboski is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Nancy Kishbaugh
Van Derveer Elementary School
Nominated by: Patti Clark, Registered Occupational Therapist

Nancy has been an educator for 17 years and currently teaches Kindergarten through 3rd Grade at Van Derveer Elementary School. She knows how to make every child feel loved and special, and works diligently to ensure that each child gets their individual needs met while teaching her classroom lessons. She instills a sense of confidence and values in all of her students and incorporates fun learning elements such as a “poet- tree” to display poems, behavioral bulletin boards, and yoga for mindfulness in her daily routines and activities.

She utilizes all of her classroom space (which is limited) to set up specific learning areas and is able to address all of the special needs of her students while fostering a love of learning at their own pace.

Nancy Kishbaugh is eager to share her knowledge with both new and seasoned teachers and truly makes education fun. As a result of her efforts, students are happy and excited to learn, and this is why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Edith Duckett
Soehl Middle School
Nominated by: Michael Damato, Fellow Teacher

Edith Duckett is an ESL teacher at Soehl Middle School, and is one of those teachers who knows HOW to get it done!  For instance, she was able to get an eighth grader to perform an original poem (without a script) on stage in an auditorium filled with over 200 people. It was with similar determination that Edith encouraged her ESL students to participate in the school’s 3 Day Academic Competition. When her ESL students put together a team of four and went to pick up their study guides, others mocked them. The laughter quickly died down after her team made it past the first day, squeaked out a victory on day two, and made it to the Championship Match Up, and THEN beat the defending champions in the final round!

Edith was recently accepted into Harvard University’s “Globalizing the Classroom” fellowship in order to continue making connections with and building upon her students’ cultural knowledge and experience, integrating global content into her classroom, and fostering international community and citizenship.

She’s got determination, skills, empathy, and the tenacity to push her students forward to build their confidence for what lies ahead in life.   This is why Edith Duckett is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

John “JP” McAvaddy
Auten Road Intermediate School
Nominated By:  Angela Cleveland, School Counselor

John “JP” McAvaddy teaches Social Studies and Literacy at Auten Road Intermediate School, and also serves as a school counselor. All of his co workers say he is one of the most effective, compassionate teachers they’ve ever encountered. He’s willing the go the extra mile to help students, and serves on numerous committees to make the school environment a wonderful experience for all.

He’s a part of the “School Climate and Safety Team” and provides honest, insightful feedback, shares creative solutions to school wide challenges, and is committed to using survey data to drive positive change in the school climate. His philosophy is simple: He says there are no bad kids, just impressionable, conflicted young people wrestling with emotions and impulses, trying to communicate their feelings and needs the only way they know how.

He takes the time to learn about his students as young people, see their potential, and establish a caring relationship. He recognizes the unique qualities and strengths all children possess and advocates for their individual needs in the classroom.

He doesn’t simply teach literacy and social studies; he is an educator, mentor, and often surrogate parent for some of the most vulnerable children. He’s earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues, students, and the entire Hillsborough community, and this is why JP is a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Nominated by:  Pete Clark, Principal of North Brunswick Township High School

Kristine Noonan is a Special Education Teacher who was instrumental in developing the Autistic Spectrum Disorder Program at North Brunswick Township High School. She spent countless hours reorganizing a club storage area to make it one of the most productive and magnificent student work spaces!

Kristine has also worked with NBTHS Dining Services to prepare menus and complete tasks needed for lunch periods, and has teamed up with district custodians and local farmer’s markets, along with other local businesses. She even started a vegetable garden on school grounds!

She also participates in the annual Autism Baseball Tournament, organizes and attends the yearly Junior Prom, and provides the skills and encouragement to her students to gain the courage to recite the pledge of allegiance over the loud speaker!

Kristine Noonan is dedicated to making sure students are respected and admired by both staff, fellow students and parents at NBTHS.   This is why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Nominated by: Mathew Barbosa, Principal of Branchburg Central Middle School

div>Beth Urbanski has been at Branchburg Central Middle School for 8 years, and anyone you ask, from students to fellow teachers will tell you she strives to make everyone reach their full potential!

She helps students learn and achieve their goals with a customized curriculum, and acts as an advocate for everyone to ensure the best educational environment. She prides herself on creating opportunities for students throughout the school to develop curiosity, creativity, initiative, disciplined thinking, and empathy.

Beth recently noticed that her students were having difficulty integrating into the broader school community, so she put her talent and energy toward changing her students’ school experiences and in the process, wound up creating a “reverse inclusion” program through “Be a Buddy.” What started out as a simple outreach program turned into a much larger experience! Students from her first group of Buddies were truly changed by her educational leadership and were inspired to start a “Peer2Peer” club at Somerville High School. Beth also worked with the guidance department to draft and customize a larger Peer Leadership mentoring program for all 6th graders.

Beth is guided by her passion to reach students on an emotional level, promote student engagement, and impact achievement on a larger scale, and this is why she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Nominated by: Melissa Cross, Fellow Teacher at Somerville Schools

Somerville SchoolsFor the past 8 years, Kerry Foote has been teaching first graders, and thrives on providing an amazing classroom experience to help enrich, engage, and enhance their learning experience!

She loves to build rapport with her students, and in return, they feel a sense of security in just being themselves, and are able to learn and grow.

Kerry is also a big believer in sharing ideas and concepts with fellow teachers and colleagues through developmental workshops, and many co workers have remarked how much she’s helped them learn and grow, and become better teachers.   She’s also the first to volunteer to help organize school events and be on school committees!

Kerry Foote is an educator who goes out of her way on a daily basis to ensure her students have what they need to succeed academically, physically, and emotionally. This is why she’s now a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”

Nominated by: Dana Karas, Director of counseling and World Language Supervisor at Franklin High School

Franklin-HS-LogoMaggie Muir Shylock is extremely passionate about the Spanish Language and Culture and shares her enthusiasm each and every day with every student in her classroom. She embraces the complexity of educating young minds and has a gift for making it look completely natural.

She’s recognized by her peers as a leader and trusted consultant, and serves as a member of the high school’s “Ed-Connect” team, supporting and working with staff to create and implement computer-based testing that’s accessible to all learners.

Maggie Muir Shylock has a very inquisitive nature and is diligent with every task thrown her way. Many fellow teachers have said she has what it takes to become an even stronger leader in the educational setting. She’s loved by everyone she encounters, both in and out of the classroom, and is always willing to go above and beyond. This is she’s a “Teacher Who Makes Magic!”