WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. (May 22, 2019) – The Monmouth University School of Education honored three New Jersey high school teachers at its 14th annual Monmouth University–Roberts Charitable Foundation Outstanding Teaching Awards dinner on Thursday, May 9.
In recognition of their outstanding teaching accomplishments, Holly Fiorentino, an English teacher from Old Bridge High School; Anna Jacob, a chemistry teacher at Alexander Preparatory Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey; and Mia Dill, a literature teacher at Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences in Manahawkin, New Jersey were named the 2019 award winners.
The teaching awards were instituted in 2006 by Monmouth University Life Trustee William B. Roberts to recognize outstanding secondary school teachers who have made an important contribution to the education of current Monmouth University students. Each teacher was nominated by a Monmouth University senior student for his/her remarkable teaching proficiencies and dedication to education.
“This program is an opportunity for our students to repay the favor—to lift up those who have lifted them up,” said John Henning, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education. “In so doing, they are stepping forward to take their place alongside those mentors and role models who they so admire.”
Fiorentino, a 12th grade English teacher at Old Bridge High School, was nominated by Brittany Bennett, an English education major who graduated this May. As a student teacher, Bennett worked alongside Fiorentino, an experience that has proven to be an inspiration and motivation for Bennett’s own teaching career.
“She has taught me various skills in order to strengthen my teaching abilities,” said Bennett. “Whether she is helping her students better understand English terminology, or having a conversation about their day at school, she goes the extra mile, which makes her stand out among other teachers because she is so relatable and down to earth.”
Fiorentino has taught at Old Bridge High School since 2005. She also teaches peer leadership and is the co-advisor to the student government organization.
Jacob, a high school chemistry teacher at Alexander Preparatory Academy, was nominated by recent graduate and chemistry major Andrea Mora.
“Personally, she changed my perspective of the world,” said Mora. “As a first-generation college student, at a time when I felt lost about pursuing higher education, Mrs. Jacob guided me through my possibilities and saw the potential in me that I lacked to see in myself. She always complimented my abilities in her course and told me I had a natural talent for chemistry.”
Mora, who will be pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry at Tufts University, credits Jacob for guiding her to a career she is truly passionate about.
Jacob was originally recruited from India due to the extreme shortage of science teachers in Elizabeth, New Jersey. For the last 18 years, she has worked for the Elizabeth Board of Education. She holds master’s degrees in both chemistry and education.
Dill, a high school literature teacher at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences, was nominated by Taylor Donovan, a biology major who graduated this year.
“One thing that really stood out about Ms. Dill was that she wasn’t afraid to tell you if you were wrong,” said Donovan. “She, in the most loving way possible, told you your assignment could use improvement, gave you feedback, and told you to do it again—and again, and again, if that’s what it took. But the end product was always something so amazing you couldn’t believe it was yours.”
Dill has over 23 years of professional experience and teaches classes such as advanced placement literature and composition, American literature, and college essay and resume writing.
The selection committee for the outstanding teaching awards included the Associate Dean of the School of Education Wendy Harriott, Ph.D., and Monmouth University professors and students. The teachers each received an award of $1,500.