MCVSD honors teachers of the year

CHS Spanish teacher Courtney Van Arsdale among those lauded


BLOT PHOTO by Carla Vreeland

MCVSD Superintendent Charles Ford, Jr., Ed. D. presents CHS Spanish teacher Courtney Van Arsdale with a Teacher of the Year Award as Assistant Superintendent Sean R. Meehan looks on.

Carla Vreeland

The Monmouth County Vocational School District honored 10 teachers at the MCVSD Culinary Center Education in Asbury Park on May 18, handing out pins and the administration’s gratitude over lunch. 

Meals were prepared by Culinary Center students under the supervision and guidance of staff. 

Throughout the event, Superintendent Charles Ford Jr., Ed.D., and Assistant Superintendent Sean R. Meehan praised MCVSD Teachers of the Year including CHS Spanish Teacher and Freshman Class Council Advisor Courtney Van Arsdale and teachers Beth Droughton, Brain Martin, Joy Przywara, David Moran, Courtney Amster, Brain Martin, Craig Queenan, Christine Rockwell-Wardlow, Lindsay Oppito and Stefany Gurgel. 

“Without you, we are not who we are,” Ford said.

The Monmouth County Vocational School district offers a myriad of traditional career and technical education programs in fields including culinary arts, commercial art, law enforcement, cosmetology, building trades, horticulture, automotive, and nursing. 

The district also includes five career academies: The Academy of Allied Health & Sciences, Biotechnology High School, Communications High School, High Technology High School, and the Marine Academy of Science & Technology.

Here are Dr. Ford’s remarks about each honoree. 

Dr. Droughton, Allied Health, AAHS

“Dr. Droughton is an exceptional member of the Allied faculty. She arrived at AAHS with a great deal of real world health-care experience which she eagerly shared with her students. She was able to explain the reality of working in health care, working with legal cases (such as workman’s comp and other accident cases) and how best to apply what one learns in school to the real world. 

Beth is a dedicated teacher who works hard to provide her students with a world class knowledge of initially Advanced Chemistry and later Clinical Skills and Anatomy and Physiology. Although the workload is very challenging to students, many times the students have made a point of telling her how well prepared for college they are from the rigor of her classes. 

She never criticizes, but always offers possible solutions. She never expects others to solve problems – she knows that she has to be part of the solution. In extracurricular events, Beth is also a supporter – whether it is a fundraising event, health awareness event Beth is there. Dr. Droughton has dedicatedly served the AAHS community well over her time here. She never looks for accolades merely the self satisfaction in being a positive part of the community and doing her job well.” 

Brian Martin, Landscaping, Career Center

“Mr. Martin is the Instructor for the Landscaping program at the Career Center and has worked to build a strong collaboration and respect and amongst his class of about 15 teenage boys – not an easy task. He speaks to them in a way that makes them feel empowered and important and cared for – but his care is genuine. 

Mr. Martin has always shown an honest interest in the success off his students, and has advocated for any student who seems to be straying from success. Mr. Martin takes the time to get to know his students, where they come from, and about their families. He works hard to build a relationship with the students that surpasses the classroom. Students have trust in Mr. Martin and they know that he cares.  He incorporates hands on components beyond what is expected. He has made the school grounds his true classroom, and has partnered with the great outdoors to put students inside the setting with which they are learning. He also allows the right amount of independence and trust amongst his students; enough that they feel respected and begin to build their own sense of pride and internal motivation towards growth. 

He is all about the kids, their growth, and sharing his passion for the Landscaping Trade. He has helped to develop some truly successful graduates who have gone onto work on golf courses, county parks, and other successful futures. He keeps in touch with many students who hold him with the highest regard, as he has and will continue to make an impact in his years of service.” – 

Mrs. Joy Przywara, District SAC

“Mrs. Joy Przywara has been a tremendous asset to all programs and divisions offered through MCVSD. She meets with students individually and in groups to share resources and engage with students proactively. Mrs. Przywara has a weekly newsletter with valuable resources and shares information with families and faculty. She has assisted with Biotechnology High School serving as the school testing coordinator and school counselor, even though it is not her job responsibility. Mrs. Przywara always goes above and beyond and is available and willing to assist all stakeholders in the district. She is currently preparing to offer a presentation for families in January and has done so in the past. She is active with several community organizations and has a wealth of resources. As her supervisor, people throughout the district compliment how valuable she is to the students, administrators, staff, and families. She is always proactive trying to find ways to better assist students, schools, and their families. Mrs. Przywara is one of the few staff members in the district that has a positive impact on both full-time and shared time programs and that’s why she is most deserving of MCVSD’s Ed Specialist of the Year award.” 

Mr. Moran, Health & Fitness, ALPS

“Mr. Moran is a dedicated professional that creates a warm and loving classroom environment. Each student is made to feel special in his or her own individual way.  He instills feelings of self worth, a love of learning, and confidence in each one of his students. Mr. Moran goes above and

beyond for his students and for the staff coordinating various morale-building activities in the school.

Mr. Moran infuses technology during his lessons. He creates engaging and relevant workouts of the day (WOD) using new-age fitness equipment and methodologies. He aligns his lessons according to the Physical Education and Health Standards by addressing the educational, social,

and emotional, needs of all students. Mr. Moran is a positive influence for students and staff.  He is a team-player who truly goes

above and beyond for everyone. He is a pleasant person that has a great rapport with his students and colleagues. It takes someone special to have such a great rapport with everyone around him.

He is a genuine, trustworthy, responsible, organized individual that acts in the best interest of our students. He encompasses all the traits of a dynamic professional and deserves to be 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year.”

Ms. Amster, Chemistry, BTHS

Ms. Amster is an accommodating, dedicated instructor. She tailors her lessons to our understanding and has the humility to use other educational resources as a supplement. Outside of the classroom, she brought the BTHS GSA to fruition, allowing it to become an official club. In my personal life, Ms. Amster’s exceptional skills in leadership have allowed me to pursue my education to its greatest extent.

Ms. Van Arsdale, World Language, CHS

Nominated by a student, Ms. Van Arsdale is known for making learning a foreign language fun. According to the student, Ms. Van Arsdale engages all students in class by speaking in Spanish and telling them about her amazing experiences living in Spain and traveling to tons of Spanish-speaking countries. She also starts off the morning with her class and it is a relaxing, yet informative way to start the day. Furthermore, she is also the unofficial advisor for JSA and school advisor for class or 2025. 

Mr. Craig Queenan, Biology, HTHS

Mr. Queenan demonstrates all of the qualities of an exemplary biology teacher and educational leader, who has accomplished great success, as well as a high level of respect in the field of education. Outside of the classroom, Mr. Queenan is at the forefront of his field, setting goals for improvement of knowledge and skills. At the beginning of 2021, he wrote a proposal to receive a Hitachi HTA Benchtop Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) on loan for the 2021-22 school year, and the proposal was approved.  Eager to share this piece of equipment with his colleagues, Mr. Queenan reached out to Ms. Harmon and Dr. Jensen, eager to host a professional development workshop to increase interest and engagement in STEM and microscopy. Mr. Queenan is currently working on a partnership with Brookdale Community College to showcase the instrument as well as planning an 8th grade science workshop for Freehold Township Middle School. 

Ms. Rockwell-Wardlow, English, MAST

Christine Rockwell-Wardlow is an outstanding educator at MAST and extremely deserving of this year’s nomination for Governor’s Educator of the Year. An experienced and dedicated public school educator for 15+ years, she continually strives to ensure her students feel heard, valued, and respected through her emphasis on curricula inclusivity and amplification of student voices. Christine Rockwell-Wardlow exceeds expectations for motivating students of all backgrounds and abilities in her classroom through her innovative ideas, meticulous lesson planning, and impressive delivery of instructional material. She challenges her learners to be critical thinkers, to be effective communicators, and to be engaged citizens of the world. She has led the MAST community in multiple years as the Chairperson for our Diversity & Equity as well as Social Justice Professional Learning Communities. Christine is also the 2021 – 2022 MCVSD Curriculum Coach for Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion. In working closely with her, I see her commitment to these very important values and how she commands the respect and admiration of students, parents, administrators and fellow teachers through her active role as a community member, leader, and outstanding educator.

Ms. Oppito, Guidance Counselor, MAST

Ms. Oppito works tirelessly to make the school run smoothly by organizing dates for testing and working on scheduling of all kinds throughout the school year. Any time the administration needs something done, Lindsay is on it! She also makes time to get to know her students and helps them through a variety of issues…things as mundane as scheduling for next year to important life skills such as coping with mental health issues. Students have only great things to say about Ms. Oppito and she works hard to have a great rapport with the staff of the school, as well. She is the chairperson for the Reintegration PLC and is a member of several other PLCs, as well. She cares about the MAST community and uses her skills to create a wonderful social and learning environment for everyone on the campus.  

Ms. Stefany Gurgel, Applied Mechanical Engineering, Shared Time at TF

Ms. Gurgel is a dynamic educator that has an incredible passion for teaching. Ms. Gurgel designs lessons that are truly student centered and promote inquiry. Every lesson is differentiated for students to not only understand the logistics behind the lesson, but to apply their knowledge in the manufacturing setting. Ms. Gurgel’s always emphasizes the importance of student safety guidelines. She is aware of student learning needs and always arranges for assistance with their accommodations.

Recently, Ms. Gurgel has been tasked with rebranding her program. She has taken charge, advocating for herself and the future of her classroom. Through rebranding and outlining the future of Advanced Manufacturing, Ms. Gurgel is planning to add more student certifications to the already impressive list they can earn through successful completion of the program.

Ms. Gurgel is active in the community. Ms. Gurgel is a leader in the Tinton Falls building. She is an active member in the Pandemic Response Team, and she helps provide support to other teachers in need. She helps create student leaders in as the Skills USA advisor. Ms. Gurgel stays current in the trade, working closely with a manufacturing company. 

Ms. Gurgel’s students are lucky to have such a passionate and dedicated teacher!