Rider alumna named Gloucester County teacher of the year

Jami Centrella ’13 teaches 6th grade English Language Arts in the Franklin Township School District
Adam Grybowski

Jami Centrella ’13, a sixth grade English Language Arts teacher at the Caroline L. Reutter School, was named the Gloucester County Teacher of the Year by the state of New Jersey in August.

The honor comes on the heels of Centrella being named the Reutter Teacher of the Year in 2019-20.

Centrella has held the position in the Franklin Township School District since graduating summa cum laude from Rider in 2013. She cites as one of her biggest professional accomplishments the growth of her students in the 2018-19 school year, when 95% of students left her class reading at or above grade level, with some students growing upwards of two grade levels.

“Miss Centrella demonstrates the qualities that truly define the role of a ‘teacher leader’ through her development of productive meetings with colleagues, infusion of unique collaboration methods and continuous motivation to strive for success in everything that she attempts,” says Theodore Peters, the principal of the Caroline L. Reutter School.

Centrella received a dual bachelor’s in elementary education and psychology from Rider. As an undergraduate, she was recognized for her student-teaching in the third grade at Maurice Hawk Elementary School in West Windsor when she was named a New Jersey Distinguished Student Teacher by the Department of Education. The honor recognized the 15 most outstanding prospective teachers in the state.

The county teachers of the year serve as ambassadors for the state’s public schools. In this role, Centrella will be advocating for further integration of social and emotional learning, or SEL, competencies into everyday instruction, especially with high-risk students.

"I truly believe that in order for students to learn the value in the curriculum, they have to first learn to value themselves," Centrella says. "I believe educators play an integral role in students discovering their value, and I am excited for the chance to advocate for building relationships and meaningful connections with students. High-risk kids have my heart, and it is a privilege to advocate for ways to support them this year."

At Rider, Centrella was also involved with the University’s chapter of the National Writing Project, where she researched the correlation between student motivation and reading. The results of this research helped fuel her passion for encouraging students to believe in themselves as readers, writers and lifelong learners.

At the Caroline L. Reutter School, Centrella is also the chairperson of the Sixth Grade Liberal Arts Department, the facilitator for her professional learning community and a representative on the district leadership committee. She is also actively involved in various school-wide committees that contribute to a positive and productive school climate. Most recently, she has been serving as the chairperson of the instructional subcommittee of her school’s pandemic response team.

“She is not just an asset to our school, but also the district through her demonstration of commitment to the profession, intellectual engagement of her students and the high ​standards that she has set for all educators that she encounters,” Peters says.

The county teachers of the year vie for the honor of being selected as the state teacher of the year, which is typically announced in October.