Middle School Teacher of the Year and Educational Services Professional honored at ceremony

Middle School Teacher of the Year and Educational Services Professional honored at ceremony

A celebration of the commitments and dedication of staff members in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District was presented on Tuesday, May 4.

The Somerville Elks Lodge served as the venue for the school district’s annual—and highly acclaimed—Staff Recognition Reception.

The event was held to honor the 2023-2024 Bridgewater-Raritan Teacher of the Year and the Educational Services Professionals for all 11 schools in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District.

A total of 22 staff members–two from each school–were honored before an estimated crowd of 175, which included administrators, board of education members, staff, teachers, and families of the honorees.

The reception was sponsored by the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association (BREA), while the ceremony was coordinated by the energetic and valuable Suzanne Klos, the Executive Secretary to the Superintendent.

She was assisted in preparing for this elite ceremony by Terry Brown and Kaitlyn McGhee, who are Administrative Assistants in the Office of the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.

Laura Kress, the BREA President, opened the ceremony with her remarks that cited the faithfulness and devotion that are exhibited by the 22 honorees as well as the entire school district.

Superintendent Bob Beers followed Ms. Kress and touched on how “Bridgewater-Raritan is unique in that we are able to hold an event such as this.”

He applauded the honorees and the school district for “a high level of commitment to excel’ and described the teaching profession as a calling rather than a job.

Each school principal was given the opportunity to speak and introduce their two distinguished staff members–Teacher of the Year and Educational Services Professional of the Year.

Each honoree received a commemorative gift that was handed out by the Board of Education Vice President, Jennifer Loughran, and a Board of Education member, Stacey Friedlander.

Here is a summary of each Middle School honoree presented by Principal Megan Corliss.

Ashlen Udell
Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School
Instrumental Music Teacher

The Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School is proud to honor Ms. Ashlen Udell, who is a
band teacher, as our Teacher of the Year. Ms. Udell has been a part of the BRRSD for
the past 14 years. She spent her first four years at Bradley Gardens and Milltown
Schools and has been at the Middle School for the past 10 years.
Ashlen is a passionate and dedicated music educator who has had an overwhelmingly
positive impact on our school community. Ashlen's talents within our music
department are admired by students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community
members. As the director of the band and the wind ensemble, Ashlen nurtures her
students with enthusiasm and high expectations. She chooses music that challenges her
students to grow but is also relevant to their interests and cultures.
Additionally, Ashlen is passionate about making instrumental music accessible to all
students.

To that end, Ashlen voluntarily created a drumming program for students in our self-
contained classes. These students, historically, have not been able to access the

instrumental music program. As a result of Ashlen's efforts, every single student in our
self-contained program now has access to instrumental music and gets to perform as
part of the band during our school-wide concerts.
Outside of the classroom, Ashlen is an active participant in our school community. She
has a positive attitude and calm demeanor and is willing to help any student or staff
member without hesitation or recognition. In reference to receiving this award, Ashlen
stated, “receiving Educator of the Year at BRMS is a testament to every teacher,
student, and administrator I've had the privilege to learn from and collaborate with. As
I reflect on my years of teaching, I am profoundly honored to have been recognized by
my peers for my dedication to education."


Rosalia Finazzo
Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School
Instructional Assistant


The Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School is proud to honor Ms. Rosalia Finazzo, an
instructional assistant in our multiply disabled program, as our Educational Services

Professional of the Year. Ms. Finazzo has been a valued member of the Bridgewater-
Raritan Regional School District for 17 years and has been at the Middle School for six
years.

Ms. Rosa, as her students affectionately call her, understands the individual needs of
each of the students with whom she works. She is able to adjust her approach with
students to give them exactly what they need at that particular moment. She has the
natural ability to differentiate learning for each student, despite no formal training in
education. She knows how to explain and break things down so that the students can
understand new concepts and experience success. Her insights into how students think
and learn is that of a master teacher. Rosa also has a strong ability to deal with a variety
of student behaviors. She always remains calm and consistent no matter what she faces.
Rosa is a natural-born teacher and a natural-born leader. She is a resource for the other
assistants in dealing with student behavior due to her ability to bring a child through
any situation. Rosa willingly goes above and beyond for students on a regular basis. She
does not hesitate to give extra to a student so that they can be successful. To that end,
she regularly stays after school to assist students in participating in extracurricular
activities.
Rosa is a pleasure to work with and we are so fortunate to have her as part of our BRMS
community!

Listed below are the 22 staff members who were honored.


Teacher of the Year Award - 2023-2024
 
Alexandra Pelligrino, Adamsville, Special Education Teacher
Susan Winters, Bradley Gardens, Grade 2 Teacher
Kimberly Kaminsky, Crim, Special Education Teacher
Paige Hering-Boehme, Hamilton, Grade 1 Teacher
Angela Randazzo, John F. Kennedy, Grade 3 Teacher
Bryan Smith, Milltown, Physical Education Teacher
Megan Rutkowski, Van Holten, Grade 1 Teacher
Jaclynn Hurley, Eisenhower, Grade 5 Teacher
Taryn Prince, Hillside, Grade 6 Special Education Teacher
Ashlen Udell, Middle School, Teacher of Music
Hsiao-yu Lin (Sherry) Griggs, High School, Teacher of Music
  
Educational Services Professional Award - 2023-2024

Deborah Calabrese, Adamsville, Speech Language Specialist
Puja Arora, Bradley Gardens, School Counselor
Monica Hammond, Crim, Elementary Teaching Specialist
Kathleen Hughes, Hamilton, School Nurse
Holly Gibson, John F. Kennedy, Intervention Specialist
Stephanie Campisi, Milltown, School Counselor
Sarojini Panwar, Van Holten, Instructional Assistant
Tara Rutkowski, Eisenhower, Instructional Assistant
Maria Giardella, Hillside, Learning Disabilities Teaching Consultant
Rosalia Finazzo, Middle School, Instructional Assistant
Lauren Amisial, High School, Student Assistance Counselor
 
 Linked below is the program that features the background of each of the 22 honorees.

 

BRRSD 2024 Staff Recognition Reception Program