The school district dedicated this night to honoring teachers, administrators and volunteers who help make a difference in the Bayonne schools.
The ceremony gave recognition to distinguished accomplishments in the school district over the last year, recognized last year's teachers of the year, acknowledged the retirements of key people in various schools, and named the 2006 Caring and Sharing Volunteer Award winners.
In introducing last year's teachers of the year, Robert C. Craig, assistant superintendent for personnel, called them "very special group of people," who have an extraordinary talent for teaching and who show skill in dealing with many of the growing challenges faced by teachers today such as mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and the limitations of tightened school budgets.
"They perform magic in the classroom," he said.
The teachers of the year for 2006 were Elaine Sloan of Henry E. Harris School, Moel Meaney of Phillip G. Vroom School, Maria A. Mateo of Dr. Walter F. Robinson School, Judy Czachur of Mary J. Donohoe School, Mark D. Squitieri of Lincoln Community School, Diane DeRosa of Horace Mann School, Maria Kilroy of Midtown Community School, Lori White of Washington Community School, Julianne Kochanski of Woodrow Wilson School, Christine Gutierrez of John M. Bailey School, Mary Dwyer of Public School No. 14, and Rosemary Parlavecchio of Bayonne High School.
"The education of a child is the most important thing that a community can accomplish," said Mayor Joseph Doria. "Even if we had all the buildings and all of the books, without dedicated individuals to teach our kids we would have nothing. The administration could not do its job if the teachers were not there."
The last year also won significant recognition within the borders of Bayonne for schools and educators.
"We are very fortunate this year to have won so many state awards," said Dr. Ellen O'Connor, assistant superintendent for curriculum.
Over the last year, Phillip G. Vroom School earned the prestigious Governor's School of Excellence award. Mary J. Donohoe School became a state Star School. Barbara DeBenedictis of Public School No. 14 won the Outstanding Environmental Educator Award. Project Independence, piloted by teachers Peggy Faulkner and Dennis Tiberi, won the Innovations Special Education Award.
Washington Community School won the state's Best Practices Award for a program called "The Auction" developed by teachers Judy Sander and Carol Provaire.
"This is the second year in a row that Washington Community School won a Best Practice Award," O'Connor said.
Mary Dwyer of Public School No. 14 was named Bayonne's Masonic Lodge 99's Educator of the Year.
Maribeth Doria, director of special programs, introduced the volunteers of the year - something that was done for the first time this year.
"These are the people who every year show that they care," she said. "They made a difference in the schools. They provide a valuable service and are involved with their schools on a volunteer basis."
This year's winners of the Caring and Sharing Volunteer Awards are Charles Tocko of Henry E. Harris School, Camille Pirozzi of Phillip G. Vroom School, Leona Forest of Dr. Walter F. Robinson School, Todd Harringan of Mary J. Donohoe School, Helen Bobal of Lincoln Community School, Michelina Sangi of Horace Mann School, Rose Baccarella of Midtown Community School, Maria Abrosio of Washington Community School, Josephine Pompeo of Woodrow Wilson School, Elaine Bottino of John M. Bailey School, Joanne Northgrave of Public School No. 14, and Daniel Murphy of Bayonne High School.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGeehan said the volunteers helped Bayonne become the "shining star of education."
One of the surprises at the event was the unveiling of posters done by the students of each school that featured prominent administrators and teachers from the schools as if on the cover of a magazine.
This, according to Maribeth Doria, was paid for by a grant from the state Department of Education.