Smita Dharsi, Essex County Teacher of the Year

Smita Dharsi, Essex County Teacher of the Year
Posted on 09/04/2018

Smita Dharsi and Dr. JohnsonSmita Dharsi was recently named one of 21 teachers in New Jersey recognized as the 2018-19 Essex County Teacher of the Year.

Dharsi has a Montessori, elementary, and special education background. She started her teaching experience at Westside Montessori School. She then was a chemist for a short period of time in the Midwest, and then returned to teaching first as a special education teacher at South Orange-Maplewood HS, then Northeast, and finally as a Montessori teacher in 2nd grade at Edgemont.

She grew up in Tanzania, on the edge of the Gombe National Park. Her parents owned a food and supply store at that location. Jane Goodall would pick up her supplies at the family store before heading to her research camp in Gombe. Smita was held by Jane as a baby, and has continued to stay in touch with her throughout her life.

“Ms. Dharsi is an innovative, child-centered teacher,” said Edgemont Principal Cheryl Hopper. “As a trained Montessori educator, she fosters a child’s natural inclination to learn. To meet each student’s developmental needs, Ms. Dharsi uses Montessori methods and materials to serve as a springboard for investigation and discovery. She is a skilled observer, a creative facilitator, and an adept community builder. The Edgemont community is honored to have Ms. Dharsi as a beloved teacher, leader, and friend.

Superintendent Johnson concurred. “Ms. Smita Dharsi is a prime example of Montclair’s talented educator community. Not only is Ms. Dharsi a warm, child-focused instructional leader, her inviting disposition is so pure that students – and even many adults – cannot help but to be connected to her in a very special way. Ms. Dharsi’s keen understanding of the content is unquestioned. And, her ability to convey the content is unmatched. We are extremely proud to call Ms. Smita Dharsi a Montclair Public Schools’ educator.”

This honor comes out of the Governor’s Educator of the Year Program, which acknowledges the hard work and dedication of teachers across the state. Panels made up of administrators, teachers, parents and members of county education associations select each County Teacher of the Year.
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