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Contact: Richard Vespucci
For Release: June 7, 2000

Sixteen New Jersey Math, Science Teachers Honored by State Board of Education

The State Board of Education today honored 16 New Jersey mathematics and science teachers for their accomplishments. All 16 of the teachers participated in the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Four of them received 1999 Presidential Awards, and 12 were selected as state finalists for the 2000 program.

The four national award-winning teachers are: Angela Deeney, an elementary mathematics teacher at the Orchard School in Ridgewood; Betty Garrity, a secondary mathematics teacher at the Galloway Township Middle School, Absecon; Beverly Nelson, a secondary Science Teacher at Hackensack High School, Hackensack, and Linda Smith, an elementary science teacher at the Billingsport and Loudenslager elementary schools in Paulsboro.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is the nation’s highest honor for teachers of mathematics and science in grades K-12. Each national award consists of a $7,500 grant from the National Science Foundation to the recipient’s school to be spent at the teacher’s direction, and expense-paid activities in Washington, D.C., during which the national award winners receive certificates signed by the President.

"The students of these exemplary teachers and their school communities should share in the pride of their accomplishments," said Commissioner of Education David C. Hespe. "People in the field of education recognize these awards as representative of high honors and a great deal of prestige."

Teachers are selected for the program based on their teaching performance, background and experience, and their participation in activities both in and out of school that relate to their roles as teachers. Applicants must demonstrate how their teaching enables students to learn important processes and concepts in science and mathematics.

Each of the 2000 state-level finalists received a National Science Foundation state award for excellence and a $750 cash award. A national selection committee will review the application packets of the state finalists and recommend a national winner for each state in each of the corresponding four categories: elementary mathematics, secondary mathematics, elementary science and secondary science.

The twelve 2000 state finalists from New Jersey are:

  • Paula Gray, a mathematics teacher at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School
  • Helen Huey-Yuann Chang, a science teacher at West Windsor-Plainsboro Upper Elementary School
  • Dianne Leoni, a mathematics teacher at Amsterdam School, Belle Mead
  • Denise Landset, a mathematics teacher at Upper Township Elementary School
  • Paul Osmer, a science teacher at Glen Meadow Middle School
  • Laird Ottman, a mathematics teacher at Haddon Heights High School
  • Yomare Polanco, a science teacher at the Roosevelt School, New Brunswick
  • Felicia Servetz, a science teacher at the Alfred Zampella School No. 27, Jersey City
  • Martin Shields, a science teacher at James Caldwell High School, West Caldwell
  • Aldona Skrypa, a mathematics teacher at the Torey J. Sabatini Elementary School, Madison
  • Luella Vengenock, a science teacher at Alloway Township School
  • Lanette Waddell, a mathematics teacher at Crossroads Middle School, Monmouth Junction

The National Science Foundation began the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching in 1983 by inviting each state to nominate math and science teachers for consideration in the national program. Teachers must have taught science or mathematics for at least five years. Nominations are made by students, parents, administrators, teachers and others. A statewide committee of science and mathematics educators made statewide selections.

For more information, contact the Office of Innovative programs at the New Jersey Department of Education, 609-777-0800.