|| Ellen Cahill
Bradford Kindergarten teacher Ellen Cahill was named Teacher of the Year by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and was honored at an awards celebration at The Montclair Art Museum on Wed., Oct. 26. According to the Council, she was named Teacher of the Year for: “Her ability to bring an interdisciplinary study of the humanities to some of New Jersey’s youngest students. By focusing the curriculum on her students’ interests, history, language, geography and the sciences are woven into their lives, creating a highly engaged learning environment. In particular, Cahill fosters her students’ love of learning through a Philosophy for Children program, encouraging democracy in her classroom and makes students owners of their own knowledge from an early age. Her unique teaching of the humanities makes her a model of effective early childhood education.”
“Ellen Cahill demonstrates what’s possible in early childhood education,” said Mary Rizzo, NJCH interim executive director. “She takes our youngest students and introduces them to complex ideas in a way that sparks their passion for learning and gets them thinking creatively.”
In naming her Teacher of the Year, the awards committee was particularly impressed by the way in which Cahill brings her philosophy of learning into the classroom to make education come alive through active student participation and a focus on critical thinking.
“Through emergent curriculum and project-based learning, I want my students to take hold of whatreally interests them and run with it; I want them to explore deeply andauthentically every topic and idea that tickles their minds,” said Cahill. “Through Philosophy for Children, I hope to encourage my students to freely express their thoughts and learn what have become powerful words in our classroom: 'I think this way because...'”
“Ms. Cahill's classroom is a place of joy and excitement – she inspires me to be a better educator every day,” said Bradford Principal Naomi Kirkman. “She has an incredible knack for sparking a love of learning in her students through her integrated, project-based learning units. Her students delve into language arts, math, science and social studies through their weekly baking projects, units on light and sound, space, the Wild West, and many more. She knows implicitly that how children learn is as important as what they learn. “
Cahill is a graduate of Kean University and has an MA in Education with a Concentration in Philosophy for Children from Montclair State University. She has been teaching at Bradford School since 2003.
The Teacher of the Year award is bestowed annually on an elementary, middle school, or high school teacher who understands the complexity, value, and richness of the humanities, including such subjects as history, literature, comparative religion, world cultures, and ethics, and whose approach to humanities education is interdisciplinary and creative.
The New Jersey Council for the Humanities is a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its mission is to serve the people of New Jersey by developing, supporting, and promoting projects that explore and interpret the human experience, foster cross-cultural understanding, and engage people in dialogue about matters of individual choice and public responsibility.