Teachers and Educational Services Professionals of the Year Announced

Teachers and Educational Services Professionals of the Year Announced
Posted on 01/22/2018

At the Hillsborough Township Board of Education meeting on January 22, 2018, Dr. Jorden Schiff, Superintendent of Schools, and the district’s principals officially recognized the teachers of the year from Hillsborough Township Public Schools’ nine schools as well as the six educational services professionals of the year. A total of 15 staff members were recognized for inspiring a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.

Over the last two months, Hillsborough parents, students, and colleagues were given the opportunity to nominate a teacher and educational services professional (ESP) who goes above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of their students. A committee from each school reviewed the nominations and chose a teacher of the year from each building, three co-ESPs of the year from the six elementary schools and and an ESP of the year from Hillsborough High School, Hillsborough Middle School, and Auten Road Intermediate School.

The following teachers were each recognized by their individual schools:


Christina Smith, Special Education Teacher, Amsterdam Elementary School

Smith has been teaching special education for 23 years in Hillsborough. She makes every day matter for each one of her students. She consistently delivers meaningful differentiated instruction to meet the needs of her learners. She is keenly aware of each student’s individuality as well as their unique gifts and talents.


Kirsten Goodwin, Teacher of Writing, Hillsborough Elementary School

Goodwin has dedicate 30 years to education and the students in Hillsborough. She is an engaging teacher whose infectious enthusiasm can grab the attention of even the most reluctant learner. She is a true comfort and resource to both students and staff at Hillsborough Elementary.


Dawn Purdy, ASI and Teacher of Writing, Sunnymead Elementary School

Purdy has spent her 24 years in education as a member of the Sunnymead Elementary School staff. She is always willing to do what is needed, a true teacher from the heart, and leader among her peers. She comes to school everyday with a smile, an easy laugh and the challenge of getting her students to think differently, and, she expects the same from her students.



Victoria Wargo, Autism Teacher, Triangle Elementary School

Wargo has been a teacher in Hillsborough for 11 years spending 9 of those years at Triangle School as a teacher of students with autism. She is an advocate for her students and all students with disabilities. Wargo is caring, compassionate, committed and an integral member in the lives of her students and their families.



Stephanie Zinman, Special Education Teacher, Woodfern Elementary School

Zinman has spent the past six years at Woodfern Elementary and has worked with students in every grade, kindergarten through 4th. She is master at what she does in the classroom and does so effortlessly. She seamlessly provides every student in her classroom with what they need all while drawing no attention to the child or herself.



Susan DiCenzo, Special Education Teacher, Woods Road Elementary School

Dicenzo has worked in Hillsborough for 27 years. She is a dynamic and caring teacher who inspires her students in the classroom and out. As a teacher, DiCenzo loves to see that look of excitement and joy on a child’s face as they comprehend and learn a new topic; as a teacher, that is the true reward. 



JoAnn Armour, Special Education Teacher, Auten Road Intermediate School

Armour has been with Hillsborough Schools since 1999 and joined Auten Road Intermediate School staff in 2002. She works collaboratively with her instructional assistants to provide each of her students with the individualized attention they require. Armour establishes a nurturing environment in her classroom and her students are excited to come to school each day.



Jennifer Harmsen, 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher, Hillsborough Middle School

Harmsen is in her 27th year in education. She has taken the lead on many educational initiatives and served on state and local committees including district and building advisory councils, the school improvement panel, and the NJ State Teacher’s Advisory Panel. Over the years, she has been a mentor to many of her students, student teachers, as well as new teachers in the middle school. 



Joanne Brush, Math Teacher, Hillsborough Middle School

Brush has been in education for 36 years, spending 17 of those years in Hillsborough High School. She takes the time to learn about each of her students as individuals and thrives on energizing them about Math. Her dedication to her students and peers is unmatched and her work ethic is well know around the high school.


The following Educational Services Professionals (ESPs) were each recognized by their schools: 


Robyn Becker, Speech Therapist, Amsterdam Elementary School

Becker shares her knowledge and experience with her students and peers. Her thirst for knowledge is matched by her quest to translate that knowledge into effective interventions and strategies for her students.  If there is a new avenue to explore in order to meet the needs of students, Dr. Becker is exploring it and seeking ways to share it with others for the benefit of all Amsterdam School students.  



Sharon Piech, Speech Therapist, Hillsborough Elementary School

Piech has spent 16 of her 20 years in education in her current role as speech therapist. She is a consummate professional and even the staff enunciates better when she is in the room. She provides her students with the tools for confident and effective communication that will serve them for the rest of their lives.



Kim Miladinov, School Nurse, Triangle Elementary School

Miladinov joined Triangle School in 2016, following several years as a nurse at Summit Medical Group. She is well respected among her peers and loved by the students she serves. She is a consummate professional and takes the time to listen to every student who visits her office and makes them comfortable while they are there.



Kristern Seker, Writing Content Specialist/ASI Literacy, Auten Road Intermediate School

Seker works tirelessly to ensure that her peers at Auten Road School have an understanding of the district curriculum and the resources that are available to them. She is approachable, encouraging and is always willing to help where help is needed. She exudes positive energy and is a true team player.



Doris Levine, Instructional Assistant, Hillsborough Middle School

Levine has worked in Hillsborough since 2004. In her role as an instructional assistant, Levine has provided extraordinary support for students with special needs to participate fully in school. She provides great care, patience and creativity to her students who are challenged with cognitive and physical impairments. Her greatest thrill as an educator is watching her students develop greater independence and confidence in life.



Brian Yarasheski, School Counselor, Hillsborough High School

Yarasheski, or Mr. “Y,” as his students call him, enjoys working with the students and parents of Hillsborough High School to help them find success in high school and beyond. His 36 years of school counseling expertise is unmatched. Yarasheski supports and encourages his students not only with college planning but through all aspects of their lives.


“These amazing professional have dedicated years to the children of Hillsborough,” stated Dr. Jorden Schiff, Superintendent of Hillsborough Schools. “It is an honor to work with them and the hundreds of other excellent staff members throughout this district.”

Each of these teachers and educational support professionals are now eligible to be considered for the top teacher and professional for Somerset County and then on to the state level as part of the 2017-18 Governor’s Educator of the Year (GEOY) Program. This program combines the Teacher of the Year Program with the Governor’s Teacher/Educational Services Professional Recognition Program and aims to recognize the hard work and dedication of New Jersey teachers and staff members.









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