In partnership with the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey School Boards Association honored New Jersey’s 2022-2023 County Teachers of the Year during a Facebook Live virtual awards ceremony Aug. 11.

The event was emceed by Theresa Maughan, a high school social studies teacher at East Orange STEM Academy in East Orange, who is the 2021-2022 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year as well as Essex County’s 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year.

Numerous state officials and leaders in education spoke during the ceremony, including Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, the state’s acting commissioner of education; and Dr. Timothy Purnell, executive director of NJSBA.

In a news release, Gov. Phil Murphy said, “These 21 educators are exemplary models of the kinds of dynamic teaching that takes place in New Jersey’s classrooms. The quality of our schools is driven in no small part through the strength of our teaching workforce, represented by these County Teachers of the Year. It’s no wonder New Jersey public schools are among the best in the nation.”

Allen-McMillan said, “Educators have a profound and lifelong impact through their ability to ignite the minds of young people. Their work contributes to the success of their students in the classroom and into adulthood. Congratulations to all of our 2022-2023 County Teachers of the Year!”

Maughan said, “It is not enough to be the best. We need to consistently be No. 1 for all of our students, and we start to make that happen by recognizing educators who put students first.”

She added that recognizing the County Teachers of the Year is not solely about honoring outstanding educators – it’s also about honoring communities that cultivate them. “It is critical that we embrace this culture of learning and spark that contagious enthusiasm throughout the state,” she said.

Purnell noted that teachers did a stellar job during the pandemic and that schools are at a critical juncture. “The importance and influence of great teachers cannot be underestimated,” he said.

“Simply put, education is the noblest profession,” Purnell said, noting that teachers impart ethical and moral values to children, such as persistence, empathy, respect, courage and hard work. “In a time when the world needs more hope, you are the hope in our schools, communities and our nation,” he said. He added that the county teachers of the year represent “the very best in education.”

Steve Beatty, vice president of the New Jersey Education Association, also spoke during the recognition ceremony, praising New Jersey public schools for consistently being named among the top in the nation. He credited the state’s dedicated teachers and thanked them for all they do.

Dr. Jamal Watson, senior director of Educational Testing Service’s Center for Advocacy and Philanthropy, saluted the winners on behalf of all of ETS and thanked them for their service.

Kathy Goldenberg, president of the New Jersey State Board of Education, said she was thrilled to show her admiration and appreciation to such outstanding educators. “I am sure that we have each had a teacher that has made school exciting, interesting and wonderful,” she said. “I want to say thank you to each of the 21 outstanding teachers and all of the educators who went above and beyond in these challenging times.”

The 21 winners, all of whom delivered brief remarks during the recognition ceremony, are:

  • Atlantic: Brenna Baker, biology teacher, Absegami High School, Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District.
  • Bergen: Gina DiMaggio, English teacher, Lyndhurst High School, Lyndhurst School District.
  • Burlington: Sarah Sherman, English teacher, Rancocas Valley Regional High School, Rancocas Valley Regional High School District.
  • Camden: Michael Weppler, mathematics teacher, Winslow Township Middle School, Winslow Township School District.
  • Cape May: Stephen Serano, culinary arts teacher, Wildwood High School, Wildwood School District.
  • Cumberland: Jennifer Carbone, science teacher, ExCEL Program, Bridgeton Public School District.
  • Essex: Kristen Dunleavy, special education teacher, Redwood Elementary School, West Orange School District.
  • Gloucester: Lisa Dolby, English teacher and teacher of students with disabilities, Delsea Regional High School, Delsea Regional School District.
  • Hudson: Ariel Babcock, social studies teacher and media specialist, Weehawken High School, Weehawken Township School District.
  • Hunterdon: Brian Smith, English teacher, Delaware Valley Regional High School, Delaware Valley Regional School District.
  • Mercer: Leigh Cline, second grade teacher, Parkway Elementary School, Ewing Township School District.
  • Middlesex: Leana Malinowsky, second grade teacher, Private Nicholas Minue School, Carteret School District.
  • Monmouth: Kimberly Grigoli, kindergarten teacher, Spring Lake Heights Elementary School, Spring Lake Heights School District.
  • Morris: Andrea Ritacco, business education teacher, Whippany Park High School, Hanover Park Regional High School District.
  • Ocean: Christine Girtain, science teacher and director of authentic science research, Toms River High School North and South, Toms River Regional School District.
  • Passaic: Emily Blumberg, science teacher, Passaic Preparatory Academy, Passaic School District.
  • Salem: Erika Knorr, kindergarten teacher, Elmer Elementary School, Pittsgrove Township School District.
  • Somerset: Ian Evans, English language arts teacher, Hillsborough Middle School, Hillsborough Township School District.
  • Sussex: Christine O’Brien-Mase, art and photography teacher, Sparta High School, Sparta School District.
  • Union: Candice Testa, first grade teacher, William J. McGinn Elementary School, Scotch Plains-Fanwood School District.
  • Warren: Daryl Detrick, computer science teacher, Warren Hills Regional High School, Warren Hills Regional School District.

What Comes Next?

The County Teachers of the Year will network with educators throughout the state and serve as ambassadors for New Jersey’s public schools during the upcoming school year. A panel of educators will select the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year from among the 21 County Teachers of the Year based on written applications, video submissions and interviews with the top finalists.

The New Jersey State Teacher of the Year is typically announced at the State Board of Education’s October meeting and will go on to represent New Jersey in competing for the title of National Teacher of the Year. Individual schools nominate exceptional educators for County Teacher of the Year through the Governor’s Educator of the Year Program, which promotes a positive school culture by acknowledging the hard work and dedication of outstanding teachers and educational services professionals.

Maughan urged everyone in the education community to watch the recognition ceremony and to share it on their social networks. “Events like this help us elevate the teaching profession and encourage others to celebrate the great work happening in classrooms across the state,” she said.

She added that it has always been clear to her that if you want to help people, become a teacher. “And if you want to give back to the community, become a teacher in your community. These educators answered the call to public service, and I can think of no better way to serve the greater good than in the classroom.”

Learn more about the Governor’s Educator of the Year Program.

Watch the recognition ceremony.