Bridgeton Public Schools Announces Teacher of the Year Award Recipients

By: Rachel Suga, Writer / Follow South Jersey Bridgeton City Intern

Photo: Ryan Schumacher | Follow South Jersey

BRIDGETON, N.J. — This week, Bridgeton Public Schools has announced the recipients of the Governor’s Teachers of the Year and Educational Services Professionals of the Year honors for the 2020-21 school year.

Now more than ever, educators have been put through difficult situations in order to do their jobs as they navigate through a pandemic, just like the rest of the country. Bridgeton Public Schools has highlighted some of the individuals that they feel have been assets to their education system, including Fran Ferrara, Joel Howard, Amanda Ijeoma Alexandria Nnachetam, and Elsie Figueroa, amongst others that were given recognition for their accomplishments in teaching.

Ferrara (Indian Avenue School) has been teaching in the school district for 46 years, mostly serving as a bilingual first grade teacher. The educator moved from Baltimore having originally dropped out of college. Ferrara eventually returned to school to become a teacher and joined Volunteers for Educational and Social Services.

Howard, Quarter Mile Lane School’s new teacher mentor, has also been utilizing his skills in speaking multiple languages having grown up in Ecuador. While he currently teaches second grade and is a bilingual instructional tutor for Gloucester County Special Services School District, Howard has also been a leader at the school’s gifted and talented club as well as an after-school program teacher with Bridgeton’s Immigrant English Learner Academy and Migrant programs.

Nnachetam has been an employee of the district for 13 years, aiding special education students. The Bridgeton High School educator is thoroughly involved in school activities, as she is an advisor for the class of 2022 and is a member of the Worship Ministry Team at Glory Tabernacle. In the past, Nnachetam has been the advisor for the BHS LEO, African American, and drama clubs. In the last decade, Nnachetam ran Brighter Paths New Jersey, which is a nonprofit that works toward empowering the community while also supporting residents by giving them affordable mental health services.

Figueroa, a Puerto Rican native, has been employed at Broad Street School for 17 years as a paraprofessional. She took part in the school’s Special Education Program for several years, but she now teaches kindergarten bilingual students. Figueroa has also served as an interpreter for staff during parent conferences while also collaborating with families to solve technological issues.

Numerous other educators were recognized for their honorable work this year as they worked diligently even during challenging circumstances like the pandemic.

The list of teachers receiving the honor can be found here.

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.