As the end of the school year approaches, both teachers and students celebrated this year’s achievements with awards ceremonies and special recognitions.
On Wednesday, teachers from all of Weehawken’s schools gathered with their respective principals and town officials for the presentation of the Teacher of the Year awards. Weehawken High School also recently held awards ceremonies for academics and underclassman athletics.
“The reason you’re able to stay fresh is because every day brings something new.” – Jerry Dorio
For the love of teaching
Superintendent of Schools Kevin McLellan congratulated the recipients of the Teacher of the Year awards and said they represent “the best of the best, as always.”
Sandra Petrullo, a second grade teacher at Daniel Webster School, was chosen as Teacher of the Year by Principal Anthony Colasurdo.
Colasurdo said he chose Petrullo because she is a “consummate professional. I know that the kids that come out of her class are well-prepared, well-behaved and motivated.”
For Petrullo, who comes from a family of educators and has been teaching for 33 years, the reward is in the smiles on the faces of her students when they achieve something.
“I just love doing it,” she said. “It’s still fun after all of these years.”
Recipient Jerry Dorio, a basic skills teacher for grades 3 through 6 at Theodore Roosevelt School who has also been teaching for over 30 years, agreed that the job is still fun after three decades.
“The reason you’re able to stay fresh is because every day brings something new,” said Dorio.
Considered another profession
During his seventh year teaching, Dorio said that he briefly considered making a move into the corporate world. But it only took a couple of interviews for him to realize he made the right career choice in teaching.
Fueled by a genuine passion for his calling, Dorio has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Principal Alfred Orecchio commended Dorio’s work not just in the classroom, but also as chairman of the 504 and INRS (intervention and referral services) committees, which provide accommodations for struggling students.
“That’s a lot of work, it takes a lot of time,” said Orecchio. “He always does anything that needs to be done and he’s very reliable.”
“I’m humbled by it,” said Dorio of the honor. “We have plenty of outstanding teachers at Roosevelt equally deserving of the award.”
This year Weehawken High School Principal Dr. Peter Olivieri chose to recognize guidance counselor Francesca Amato, the first guidance counselor to ever be given the award.
Though it is unconventional to give a guidance counselor the Teacher of the Year award, Olivieri said he believes all of the teachers from the high school would agree with his selection and the sentiment behind his choice.
“She’s a very special person,” said Olivieri. “The most hardworking person on my entire staff.”
A guidance counselor at the school for seven years, Amato said that she enjoys the diversity of work that the department offers her and likes being able to work with students throughout their academic career at the high school.
“Each day is different from the last and it’s never boring,” she said.
Humbled by the recognition, Amato said that she hoped the award would shine a light on her entire department and the hard work they put forth each day.
Each of the honorees received plaques, which will be displayed at their schools for a year.
Weehawken High School students celebrated their academic success earlier this month during the annual Academic Awards ceremony held on May 6.
In addition to the academic award recipients, 25 students were inducted into the National Honor Society and achievement awards were presented to students participating in the Mock Trial Team and Peer Leadership Organization.
Rutul Amin, valedictorian of the Class of 2011, was presented with the Academic Award. The Academic Award is given annually in recognition of the student who has “taken maximum advantage of the Weehawken High School curriculum.”
Michael Kiledijan, a 1981 graduate of Weehawken High School and current professor and vice chair in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University, was inducted into the Academic Hall of Fame.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at email@example.com.