Newkirk named Hamilton district’s teacher of the year

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 Jessica Newkirk, Hamilton Township School District’s teacher of the year, prepares a lesson for her class Charlie Pritchard / Jessica Newkirk, Hamilton Township School District’s teacher of the year, prepares a lesson for her class. HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Jessica Newkirk, a kindergarten and first-grade English as a second language teacher at the Joseph C. Shaner Elementary School, has been selected as the township school district’s teacher of the year. As such, she is in the running to be named Atlantic County teacher of the year by the New Jersey Department of Education.

A resident of Galloway with her husband Tim, she grew up in Haddon Heights. She attended Rutgers University Camden for her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and completed her master’s degree in special education at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She is certified in elementary education and special education, ESL, reading specialist, and as a supervisor.

She has taught at the school for six years. She found out that she had been selected for the honor when her principal, Daniel Cartwright, surprised her in her kindergarten class with a bouquet of flowers.

“He told the class that they had a very special teacher because she was the teacher of the year,” she said. “They all yelled and clapped.”

Newkirk always knew she wanted to become a teacher.

“I did… I played it all the time at home too, with my twin brother Rob,” she said. “I still have the chalkboard my parents gave me for Christmas one year.”

She seems to have found a home at Shaner School.

“This place is like having a family,” she said. “My co-workers are amazing. They deserve to get this award on a daily basis. We all work hard and love what we do. My principal, Mr. Cartwright, is supportive and innovative. I love what he’s done for our school the past three years. The kids, of course – they are a lot of fun and they’re why we’re all here.”

Her favorite subject to teach is reading because it is something they can use for the rest of their lives.

“When they realize they can do it and all of the sudden it all comes together, the look on their faces is priceless,” she said. “It’s like you were able to open up a whole new world for them.”

She said the best thing about being a teacher is helping kids succeed and watching them grow.

And, should they want to grow up and teach, “I would tell them that it’s a wonderful experience,” she said. “Don’t get discouraged by the obstacles you will face. Work hard, have patience, and don’t give up.”

Each school selected its own candidate as well as a paraprofessional.

Janet Yunghans is the librarian for grades three, four and five at the George L. Hess Education Complex.

She resides in Upper Township with her husband Karl and children Kasey, 14, and Konnor, 12. She has taught at the school for 12 years and she previously taught for 20 years in Woodbine. She earned a bachelors degree in elementary education, a masters degree in instructional technology and has a certification as a library media specialist.

The William Davies Middle School representative is Carrie Armstrong. The self-contained special education instructor has taught in the school for 15 years and resides with her husband Chris, son Christopher, 11, and daughter Abby, 9.

She is a graduate of Wesley College and Georgian Court College with a bachelor of science certification in special education and a masters degree in the art of teaching.

The honored paraprofessionals include Beverly Levari, Gayle Luderitz and Lorraine Von Hess.

Levari has worked in the district for more than 12 years at the Shaner and Hess schools. She currently works with high risk students at the Shaner School.

Von Hess has been at the Davies School for 15 years and has worked in the district for 19 years. The Mainland Regional High School graduate has worked in the Read 180 classroom for the past five years.

Luderitz has been a paraprofessional at the Hess School for three years where, she said, “I am known as the Library Lady as opposed to the Library Teacher.”

She has an associates degree in business administration.       



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