Edison Intermediate School language arts teachers Marc Lazarow and Kimberly Swenson and Roosevelt Intermediate School science teacher Melissa Czerwinski and language arts teacher Carine Helwig have been recognized as outstanding intermediate school educators by the Optimist Club of Westfield.
The Optimist Club, a not-for-profit service organization that supports youth and the community, presents an award annually to two Westfield intermediate school educators - one each from Edison and Roosevelt. With the award put on hold last year due to COVID-19, a committee – that included club members, school district administrators, and past award recipients – selected four teachers this year to receive the 23rd Annual Optimist Club Award, which recognizes the importance of teaching at the intermediate level.
In addition, the Optimist Club created a Special Nurse’s Award for intermediate school nurses for outstanding performance during the 2020-2021 school year in ensuring that COVID-19 health and safety protocols were established and closely followed to provide a safe learning and working environment for all students and staff.
Recipients of the special award are nurse/health educators Martha Fico and Patricia Kelly at Edison and Christine DeSousa and Sharon Dorry at Roosevelt.
The eight intermediate school educators were recognized at the Board of Education meeting on June 1. They will be honored by the Optimist Club as well at a dinner at Echo Lake Country Club on September 9.
“I congratulate all of these deserving educators,” says Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan. “The Optimist Award recognizes teachers who provide an educationally stimulating and supporting environment during this critical stage of adolescence. I thank the Optimist Club for honoring our health educators/nurses as well during this challenging year.”
Letters of nomination express appreciation to Lazarow for his empathy, initiative, love of teaching, engaging lessons, dedication to professional growth, and for having “an invested interest in the success of his students, both academically and personally.”
Swenson is lauded for her compassion, kindness, positivity, passion for teaching, and for adapting easily to a new way of instruction during the pandemic while continuing to support and encourage her students to be successful.
For her “genuine interest and curiosity about science which she shares with her students,” nominators praised Czerwinski for outstanding teaching, commitment to her students, and for looking past how a student is performing academically to see the child as a whole, even if through a computer screen during the pandemic.
Nominating letters noted Helwig’s patience, determination, strength, love for children, true passion for education, desire to grow, and her devotion to her students both during class time and as a coach, club advisor, and mentor for many after school activities.
The selection committee consisted of Optimist Club members Robin Lynch, Marc Epstein and Maria Fuentes, along with Dr. Dolan, Edison principal Dr. Matthew Bolton, Roosevelt principal Brian Gechtman, and previous award recipients.