Showing the love: Weehawken celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week


If you followed a career that that drives your passion — whether quirky, crazy or totally cool, you probably have a teacher to thank for that.

Teacher Appreciation Week runs from May 3 through May 7.

The movement to have that kind of observance is thought to have originated around World War II when Eleanor Roosevelt pushed for the day in 1953.

“It feels great that all my hard work and dedication, it’s paid off,” says Sarah Brinkmeyer, Teacher of the Year at Roosevelt School, where she’s in her seventh year 
teaching fifth-grade.

“There’s a lot of support here and I have to thank my colleagues too,” adds Brinkmeyer.  “Because without them this wouldn’t be possible.”

Getting an honor like this is a big deal.

“It’s wonderful, especially in my field,” says Physical Education Teacher Michael Finizio, Teacher of the Year at Daniel Webster School, where he’s worked for 15 years.  “Try to make the children physically fit, not only at their time in their elementary school but later on in life.”

She’s Teacher of the Year at Weehawken High School.

“It was a huge shock and it’s fantastic,” says Christine Mantineo, teacher of english 
for nine years.

For each teacher, there’s a most fulfilling part of teaching.

“I like it when they (the students) come back ‘cause that means that they remember me — and you made an impact – yeah,” Mantineo says.

These special teachers each practice student centered learning.

“That’s really the thing that distinguishes,” says Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Robert R. Zywicki. “They are pillars for the rest of our faculty as to where we’re going as a district and beyond that, all their kids love them.”

Weehawken’s educators make a positive difference, not only in our classrooms but also in our lives.

“Every year each school picks a teacher of the year.  But what exemplifies is how great our faculty is, some of the top in the state,” says Mayor Richard Turner.

“And these teachers here today show why,” says Weehawken School Board President Richard Barsa.

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Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time, Jillian enjoys yoga; working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Follow on Twitter @JillianRis


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