A Message from Natalee Bartlett, Superintendent of the East Hanover Township School District

Natalee Vaccaro-Bartlett

EAST HANOVER — As is the annual tradition of our school district, it has come time to select our East Hanover Educator of the Year. In order to ensure that our stakeholders are given a voice in this process, our district has put in place a standard means of recommendation. Typically, parents and fellow teachers are given the opportunity to nominate a district educator whose tireless dedication to the students of East Hanover and to the art of teaching has distinguished him/her to such a degree that it warrants recognition. These nominations are then reviewed by our administrative team, and honorees are selected and then celebrated by the entire East Hanover educational community. This year, however, we have decided to stray somewhat from our traditional model, as we are currently engaged in a form of education that has never been encountered in the history of our country.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt once stated, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” Truly, all dedicated educators have embraced this philosophy; we engage spirited, young minds as we help to mold our youth so that they may one day assume the reins and guide our nation on its continued pathway to success and prosperity. This challenge is what transforms education from a casual career choice to a “calling.”

Nothing has made this clearer than our stunning transformation as a result of the pandemic. We quickly shuttered our beloved school buildings and utilized our existing technology to continue to deliver vital instruction to our children.  Yes, there were some initial hiccups. However, teachers are hardened, educational warriors; like marines, they adapt and overcome. In a short time, we honed our distance learning model and we continue to do so as conditions evolve. More importantly, we persevered in the knowledge that our children need us, that they rely on our strength and resilience, that education is so much more than the gathering and dissemination of random facts and figures. Furthermore, we have the invaluable assistance of our parents and guardians whom we immediately deputized; home learning could not have happened without their heroic efforts.

This brings us now to our selection of our East Hanover Educator of the Year. How can we even begin to wade through the myriad accomplishments of our staff members and select one here or another there whose efforts transcend the field when it is readily apparent that they all are deserving of this honor for having borne this massive burden with undeniable grace and an outpouring of love that, frankly, brings me to tears when I consider what my staff has been able to achieve?

Thus, as Superintendent of the East Hanover Township School District, it gives me great pleasure to announce that all district educators will share this recognition, that they are all East Hanover Educators of the Year. This is a small token of our appreciation, for nothing can truly repay them for their commitment to the community and for their obvious love for our students and their families.  We extend to them our warmest congratulations and our sincerest gratitude for their vigilance during this time of crisis and for demonstrating time and again that they live to serve our community, and most importantly, our precious children.