Five staff members recognized through Governor’s Educator of the Year Program

KENILWORTH, NJ — Kenilworth Public Schools is celebrating five teachers and educational services professionals who were acknowledged through the 2023-24 Governor’s Educator of the Year Program.

The district nominated the staff members earlier in the school year and will honor them at an upcoming Board of Education meeting.

The statewide program recognizes educators who have gone above and beyond in contributing to an innovative and inviting learning environment. The program is designed to recognize excellence, create a sense of pride and bring public attention to the work of exceptional educators.

Nominated teachers are encouraged to apply for the County Teacher of the Year. Those who win at the county level can apply for the State Teacher of the Year.

All nominees receive awards certificates from their County Office of Education.

Kenilworth Schools Educator of the Year nominees are:

• Assunta Abdelaziz, educational services professional;

• Michelle Ventura, elementary school teacher;

• Ryan Jayne, educational services professional;

• Alejandro Mejia, middle school teacher; and

• Eileen McGrath-DeIacova, high school teacher.

Abdelaziz, a behaviorist at Harding Elementary School, helps cultivate a positive and inclusive learning environment for students and staff. She uses innovative behavioral interventions, is attentive to staff and parents, and provides proactive strategies to address concerns. She shares her knowledge with staff through training sessions, consultations and involvement in the classrooms. Her efforts have improved student behavior, learning and elevated the overall school culture.

Ventura, a fourth-grade teacher at Harding Elementary School, has been contributing to young students’ academic and personal development during the last nine years. Her approach to teaching includes instilling confidence and fostering a love for learning that lasts a lifetime. She understands the unique personalities of each student and creates a classroom environment where every child feels seen, heard and valued. She also coaches the high school soccer team.

Jayne, athletic trainer at David Brearley Middle-High School, works with student-athletes to prepare them for success in fall, winter and spring sports. He helps students with their school and sports concerns. He has been with David Brearley since 2014 and is a proud graduate of Brearley’s Class of 2007.

Mejia, a middle school Spanish teacher for five years, keeps lessons entertaining and engaging for his students. He is a driving force behind the success of David Brearley’s Hispanic Heritage Night, an annual event in October to celebrate the richness of Hispanic cultures. He is a member of the school’s Climate Team, an adviser to the volleyball club, and a facilitator of David Brearley’s “Closet,” which helps students in need.

McGrath-DeIacova, a high school English teacher at David Brearley High School for the past five years, helps her students find their creativity through challenging but interesting writing assignments. She brings themes and concepts to life in her classroom by blending film, podcasts, literature and pop culture. Like her students, she is always learning and developing her skills to provide an exceptional classroom environment.