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Meet Our Teachers of the Year


This year’s best teachers are worth their weight in gold. Just ask the Collins third grader who told us his Teacher of the Year is bringing home an Oscar.
“You don’t go into teaching to try and earn accolades or awards,” said LHS science Teacher Paul Raiz. “You just try to be a professional, care about the kids, and work hard to be the best that you can be.”
Step inside the classrooms of Livingston’s Teachers of the Year, and you will see what Raiz means. Finding their classrooms is simple. “Just listen for the happy sounds of children learning,” a school secretary told us.
On Monday night, March 10, nine teachers will be singled out as innovators and leaders for representing the mission of Livingston Public Schools “to empower all to learn, create, contribute and grow.”

This year, Livingston Public Schools honors:
  • Burnet Hill: Kristin Santos, third grade.
  • Collins: Jodi Shalom, third grade.
  • Harrison: Lynn Sorrentino, third grade.
  • Hillside: Carmela Damante, fourth grade.
  • Mt. Pleasant Elementary: Nora Yukniewicz, third grade.
  • Riker Hill: Tara Lockwood, second grade.
  • Mt. Pleasant Middle School: Diane Zambito, science
  • Heritage Middle School: Martha Cuervo, world language
  • Livingston High School: Paul Raiz, science.
During our rounds, we surprised Riker Hill with the announcement that Tara Lockwood is Livingston’s selection to move forward to complete for the Essex County Teacher of the Year.  Her second-grade classroom is alive in creativity, from poetry readings in a Greenwich Village-like coffee shop to the teacher dressed as a favorite storybook character, the super sleuth Fancy Nancy.
Mrs. Zambito exemplifies the group when she says that the nitty-gritty work is what makes those types of lively lessons happen, and so much fun.
For all nine of Livingston's Teachers of the Year, bringing home the "gold" represents the countless hours preparing the classroom, creating lessons, writing lesson plans, grading papers, and figuring out how to fit everything into a single day.
“I quickly learned that would never happen, but I was OK with it because I loved what I was doing,” Zambito said.