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January is Board of Education Recognition Month!

January is School Board Recognition Month in New Jersey, in honor of the “countless hours, without remuneration” spent by nearly 5,000 local board members who oversee operations in 580 school districts.

Governor Phil Murphy has acknowledged the important role board members play in making New Jersey’s public schools among the best in the nation.

In honor of School Board Recognition Month, we asked our current Board members to share with us recollections of their favorite teacher!

Thank you to all BOE members past and present!

LisaMs. Lisa A. McConnell – President

My favorite teacher is easily Mrs. Steinmetz – I had her for second grade at Alfred Reed Elementary School.

Mrs. Steinmetz and I have stayed in contact since my elementary school days. She is someone I always wanted in my life and knew I could turn to for help and guidance. She has a calming effect on everyone she comes in contact with. Over the years she has been a source of support and advice whenever it was needed. I was thrilled that when my two daughters started school, she was the counselor at Antheil Elementary…our connection continued, and she became someone special to my girls as well. Knowing she was there for them at school every day made me feel they were in a safe space.

Everyone who knows Donna (as I now call her) appreciates and respects her. She has touched so many lives over the years it would be impossible to count the number. There is no one else I know that carries themselves with as much grace, empathy, and love for everyone around her…she is one of the most selfless people you will ever meet…constantly giving of herself to make other people’s lives better.

I feel very lucky and grateful to have had her in my life all of these years. It makes me very happy to call her a friend and consider her a part of my family. I truly believe our world is a better place because she is in it!

A. MessinaMr. Anthony F. Messina – Vice-President

There are two and I would be remiss if I do not mention both.

Mr. Tom Patterson is widely known for his athletic and coaching accomplishments as a former Ewing High School standout athlete in both football and baseball and later during his 36 years as an assistant coach in football, soccer and baseball. Most importantly, he was tremendous academic teacher having taught his entire career in the Ewing High School History Department. I had the great pleasure to have Mr. Patterson as a teacher for both US History and for an elective psychology course that he taught at the time called "Individual Values in Society". I consider to this day Mr. Patterson to be my "Academic Mentor" during my high school years.

The second teacher is Mr. Jim Kovalsky who I consider to be my "Athletic Mentor". “Coach K” was an outstanding educator and a coach for both football and baseball for 34 Years in the Ewing Public Schools. I first met Coach K on a warm humid Saturday morning in August 1976 at Ewing High School prior to a EHS football scrimmage. It was a love affair that lasted until his passing in September of 2019. I had the great opportunity to be a ball boy, team manager, played for and coached alongside Coach K. I often drive by his most influential classroom - the football field and old practice field at what is now the Fisher Middle School and was once the Fisher Jr. High School. The lessons that I and so many other young men learned in those days have guided me as a person, parent, husband and professional that I am today, and was one of the driving forces behind my original decision to run for a term on the Board.

Dr. ConwayDr. Channing C. Conway

My favorite teacher was actually a college professor at Morgan State University. His name was Dr. Michael Bayton and he taught me to be prepared and not waste anyone’s time. The lesson came after just a few classes and I watched him dismiss students from class if they had not completed the reading and were unable to engage in class discussions. While intimidating, I respected his stance. Having no desire to be embarrassed by being sent home, I always came to class prepared to engage. This lesson has remained with me throughout my life and as a result, I always try to be prepared for any situation that arises. 

D. DelutisMrs. Deborah A. Delutis

One of my favorite teachers was Mr. Dave Griffiths. I had him for Peer Leadership and Introduction to Psychology. He taught us to be good humans. It didn’t matter what path we were taking, as long as we were kind people. After graduation he continued to follow our lives and cheered us on. His support of his students was second to none. 

S. StaubMrs. Stephanie F. Staub

My favorite teacher is my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Donna Steinmetz. I have great memories of Mrs. Steinmetz and how she made me feel as a student. She made you want to go to class because learning was fun. I will always remember her reading "Charlotte’s Web" to us in class. We had a very close relationship which carried into my adult years. Mrs. Steinmetz was a counselor at my children's elementary school and her guidance to me as a parent through challenging moments was so special to me. Her dedication to listening and helping others was beyond typical. She is definitely the most special teacher I ever had, and the life lessons she taught me as child and as an adult will stay with me forever.