Two New Grads Earn N.J. Distinguished Student Teacher Nods

Two Rider graduates were named New Jersey Distinguished Student Teachers by the Department of Education, an honor recognizing the 15 most outstanding prospective teachers in the state.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In a year when Rider’s School of Education celebrated its 100th anniversary, the term’s final landmark moment revealed itself at the very end.

Two Rider University graduates were named New Jersey Distinguished Student Teachers by the Department of Education, an honor recognizing the 15 most outstanding prospective teachers in the state. Jami Centrella ’13 of Mullica Hill, N.J., and Amanda Schott ’13 of Pennsauken, N.J., earned the prestigious nod after excelling in classrooms this past year. Rider was one of just three institutions in the Garden State with multiple honorees.

Centrella, who graduated summa cum laude from Rider in May with dual bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and Psychology, was recognized for her outstanding student-teaching at Maurice Hawk Elementary School in West Windsor, where she worked with a third-grade class.

Understandably, Centrella was excited to be named a Distinguished Student Teacher, but humbly shared the honor with her students.

“I cried, actually!” said Centrella, who will teach this fall at Caroline Reutter Intermediate School in Franklinville, Gloucester County. “Really, I was very grateful, but my thoughts turned to my third-graders – I give all the credit to them.”

However, adjunct professor Kristine Luberto said Centrella represents the very essence of the honor.

“Jami is one of the most talented teachers I’ve ever worked with,” said Luberto, who served as Centrella’s teaching supervisor. “I noticed early on that she really stood out, and I knew that I wanted her as a student teacher.”

Schott’s route to the Distinguished Student Teacher award took her through Rider’s Graduate Level Teacher Certification Program, which is designed for career-changers interested in becoming teachers. Schott, who earned dual bachelor’s degrees in English and Theater from Montclair State University in 2011, performed her student teaching at John A. Carusi Middle School in Cherry Hill. Like Centrella, she was surprised, albeit pleasantly, to learn she had been selected.

“Even as an English major, full of all the beautiful words in the language, I knew of none that could express what I felt,” Schott said. “I’m so honored to represent Rider in such a way.”

Since 1985, the presidents of New Jersey’s teacher training institutions have been invited to submit the dossiers of their five most outstanding prospective teachers into competition for this award. An independent panel of esteemed New Jersey educators evaluates these dossiers to select the award recipients.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that at least one Rider graduate has been recognized as a New Jersey Distinguished Student Teacher. ToniAnne Mizzi ’12 of Colts Neck was recognized as a 2012 recipient, while Angela DiFranco ’11 of Bordentown Township was honored in 2011, following 2010 honoree Emily DiPaolo ’10 of Newton.

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