The West Morris Regional High School District recognized 20 new teachers and staff members during the Board of Education’s Monday meeting.
Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast began the recognition process by recounting Mendham High School’s back-to-school night on Sept. 19.
“There were a thousand people walking around,” Pendergrast said. “And at least two dozen parents came up to me and said, ‘I want to thank you and congratulate you. There are so many great teachers in this building.’”
Pendergrast gave each of the district’s new academic division directors the floor to introduce the new teachers in their department, as well as lay out goals for the school year.
Dr. David Leigh, the district’s director of special education, explained that only four teachers in his division were selected from the approximately 75 resumes he received.
Leigh said he specifically looks for teachers with a passion for education, excitement about what they are doing, interest in learning and optimism about helping all students reach their potential.
“There’s no question in my mind that the teachers we hired share those qualities,” Leigh said.
New staff members by department include:
- Science: Central High School teachers Melanie Chernoff (physics) and Lisa Gizas (biology)
- History and Social Sciences: Mendham teacher Kristina Piirimae (psychology); Central teachers Emma Hart (human behavior and world history), Chris Sima (U.S. history) and Victoria Raab (U.S. history and sociology)
- English: Mendham teachers Joseph Braccino, Gwen Hedden and Jennifer Zito
- Math: Mendham teachers Devon Kappel (geometry and algebra) and Kevin Kline (geometry and algebra)
- World Languages: Lei Cooley, who will teach Mandarin Chinese at both schools
- Special Education: Mendham teacher William Dietsch; Central teachers Tanya Cavallo, Joanna Kenworthy and Anthony Pittala
- Other Faculty: Mendham guidance counselor Shannon Moran and business teacher Susan Kendrat; Central guidance counselors Megan Raquet and Matt Ferreri
Five Receive Tenure
Pendergrast also recognized the five staff members receiving tenure this year.
Before the recognition mentioned that district leadership has spent the past few months discussing what needs to be done to improve the schools.
“What gets lost is what we are doing really well right now,” Pendergrast said. “I’m convinced we have done a superior job in this district in the hiring and training process of non-tenured teachers specifically.”
Newly tenured staff include Central math teachers Dana Harrington and Mark Schartner, Central science teacher Adam Fleisher, Mendham science teacher John Courain and Mendham nurse Debra Messinger.