Terence C. Reilly School No. 7
Teacher of the Year
Degrees and Certifications:
My road to becoming an educator began in juvenile justice. I worked for the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) for seven years, collaborating with grass roots community leaders, and leaders from all levels of government, to implement programs throughout New Jersey for incarcerated and at risk youth. In addition, I voluntarily taught dance to residence of JJC and brought dance programming to the facilities.
During my years at JJC, I concurrently taught dance in studio and in community settings. Teaching dance was a passions of mine; especially teaching youth as dance provides a means for expression, it helps develop self-awareness and building confidence. I witnessed the ways in which it impacted and inspired our youth. I heard, their stories first hand; stories that began with “I wish I would have…”, “I wish I never…” or “I can’t wait until..”; these stories remain with me today.
Teaching is one of the best professions. It challenges one to continue learning, not just about content but about self, the world, our students and the worlds that they emerge from every day when they come through the doors of the building. Teacher that learn and grow can help others do the same. Through my years of teacher, I’ve learned to leave room for students to steer the direction of potential projects so that they have ownership of the work we are doing; flexibility and the ability to pivot is key. Allowing students to introduce project ideas is one way of ensuring student connection to the world around them. In my classroom, students choreograph and engage in peer to peer teaching. I enjoy watching the magic unfold as they create. Ultimately, I am here to support my students and encourage them in their efforts as they grow and develop in technique and in life.
As we move forward, I hope that as a community, we take time to reflect on the sentiments that we expressed to one another at the beginning of 2020 remote instruction, and at the height of the pandemic. Let us remember the gratitude and encouragement we constantly received and gave and continue to wish each other health, wellness, and safety.
Educational Service Professional of the Year
Degrees and Certifications:
My name is Iris N. Rivera, I started at the Elizabeth Board of Education 22 years ago in the Food Services Department. I worked at various schools before until being placed permanently at School No. 26. Once there, I stared to share my responsibilities between Food Services and the Transportation Department. I felt great at both places. While I was working, I went back to school for a CDA Certification and right after I graduated, I asked the district for a transferred and without delay or hesitation I was place at School No. 6 where I worked for 12 years. I left School No. 6 with lots of amazing memories, but I decide to follow my hearth to a new path to work with students with special needs. It has been seven years since the move and decision took place and I have loved every minute of it. My sixth, seventh, and eighth grade special education students have been my teachers. During the first seven years I worked at School No. 21 and was lucky to have the opportunity to follow that class to School No. 7, where I have worked the past five years. My time at the Elizabeth Board of Education have been rewarding, satisfying and I have learned many valuable lessons. I'm thankful for everyone that have cross my path because they allowed me to grow.