Weston Awards Celebration

Weston Awards Celebration
Posted on 06/02/2023
The recipients of the 2023 Judy Weston Awards for Inspired Teaching, in partnership with MFEE, were honored at a community celebration on June 1 at the George Inness Annex Atrium. Sixteen teachers were selected, and each was awarded $2,000 at the public ceremony. 

Almost 300 nominations were submitted for the 2023 Judy Weston Awards for Inspired Teaching and the selection committee chose the following 16 winners:

Award winners by school
Scott Berman, Glenfield Middle School
Jessica Buel, Montclair High School
Marcie Chanin, Bradford Elementary School
Diana Chicaleski, Buzz Aldrin Middle School
Kersy Corporan, Montclair High School
Shawn David Dey, Northeast Elementary School
Corrine Haggerty, Edgemont Montessori Elementary School
Satin Jordan, Renaissance at Rand Middle School
Karja Longmore, Hillside Elementary School
Maria Martire, Nishuane Elementary School
Drury Thorp, Watchung Elementary School
Jennifer Woschinko, Charles H. Bullock Elementary School

At-large award winners
Rachel Dunn, Renaissance at Rand Middle School
Peter Lentini, Buzz Aldrin Middle School
Katie Piller, Watchung Elementary School

Special education teacher award winner
Lora Orta, Teacher of the Deaf, Montclair Public Schools

weston award winners

Josh and Judy Weston established the Judy Weston Awards for Inspired Teaching in 1991 to acknowledge and celebrate Montclair Public School teachers who stood out to parents/guardians and students for being creative, talented, and supportive. The awards paused in 2016. Josh Weston, in collaboration with MFEE, brought the awards back this spring. 

“It’s been a delight for my family and me to bring the awards back in Judy’s memory,” said Josh Weston. “The teacher awards were something near and dear to her heart, and while it feels bittersweet to be awarding them for the first time without Judy, we are excited to be able to publicly celebrate and award these inspiring teachers.” Judy Weston passed away in 2020.

weston awards

In his opening remarks at the ceremony, attended by nearly 200 community members including Montclair Public Schools staff, administrators, friends and family, Superintendent Jonathan Ponds (pictured above with Josh Weston and daughter Heather) said, “We are here tonight to honor some fabulous teachers thanks to the generosity of Josh Weston. I would be remiss if I didn’t express my sincere admiration for Judy Weston who I unfortunately never had the pleasure of meeting. I hear she had a warm and compassionate heart and a tremendous zeal for helping students, which never faltered and lives on through these awards tonight.”

Of the 16 awards, the committee selected one teacher from each school to receive an award (two awards go to the high school). In addition, there were three “at large” awards and one special education award, all regardless of the school. 

Families were invited to nominate teachers over a two-month period through written, video, and audio submissions, and the selection committee met throughout May to review the nominations. “In times such as these, to be surrounded by positive messages from our community to the teachers within MPS made me feel proud to be here,” said Jada Roman, Co-Head of SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council).  “I am looking forward to seeing how this grows each year and allows our community to share these best practices.” 

The Selection Committee members represented community partners, education leaders, retired teachers, and two parent-led organizations. Members included Dr. Marcheta Evans, Bloomfield College; Cheryl Hopper, Montclair Public Schools principal (retired), former head of Montclair State University school leadership initiatives; Dr. Doris Walker-Bennett, Sister to Sister; Marilyn Davis, Montclair State University Network for Educational Renewal; Tanya Poteat, Montclair Child Development Center; June Raegner, PTAC (PTA Council); Janet Torsney, Montclair Public Library; Kathy Hurling, Montclair Public Schools teacher (retired); Rev. Dr.  A. Craig Dunn, Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation; Joanne McCullough, IMANI; Naomi Wallace, Montclair YMCA; Marcia Marley, Succeed2gether; Jada Roman, Montclair SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council); and Joy Scally, Montclair Public School teacher (retired).

“Josh’s support for Montclair Public Schools and his overwhelming generosity have been unwavering over the years,” said Ponds. “The return of the Weston teaching awards means so much to our staff, and it is exciting to have this chance to honor teachers who are truly changing the lives of their students.” 

“Each winner truly is an inspired teacher,” said Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, Executive Director of the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence, who administered the award process. “The stories that families shared about our Montclair Public School teachers are a reminder of the excellence we have inside each and every school in our district.” 

See full list of all teachers nominated for the award.
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