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Jessica Barton named Teacher of the Year in Bloomfield

By Daniel Jackovino Staff Writer

Demarest Elementary School fifthgrade teacher Jessica Barton has been selected as the 2017 Bloomfield School District Teacher of the Year.

A Bloomfield High School graduate, Class of 2000, Barton attended Demarest as a youngster. She received her certification at Fordham University and a master’s in special education at Montclair State University. She has worked her entire 13-year career in the township, starting at Carteret and moving to Demarest two years later.

“I feel lucky to still be a Bengal,” she said at the school last week.

Barton was selected from a pool of 11 teacher- of- the- year recipients from all Bloomfield schools. She had been nominated by her Demarest colleagues.

To become the top teacher, Barton was asked to submit an essay on her teaching philosophy; an exemplary lesson plan; and the reason why she became a teacher.

“My philosophy of education is to reach every student,” she said, “no matter what. Whether there are schedule changes or if the child doesn’t feel like learning, find a way to make them rise to our educational standards.”

As a sample lesson plan, Barton submitted one on teaching the American Revolution. Considering that some of her students were not strong readers, she played the Broadway soundtrack of the musical, “Hamilton.” Everyone heard men explain why they would fight for their independence. Another song from the musical was about personal fortitude.

“We were reading about taxes,” she said. “But the song I played was about taking a shot — going for it.”

Theater is a passion for Barton. So is running. She often uses this activity for a math lesson. For instance, she will have the class calculate the distances she trains for a race. And since runners need to keep their strength up, munching on a snack provides another lesson.

“I love to snack,” Barton said. “And whenever I open a box of my favorite snack, the contents settles. The class calculated the volume of the empty space.”

Her advanced learners, she said, will calculate what snack is the best value for the money. Barton has also recently started a track-and-running club at the school.

She did not have to look far for why she became a teacher. “I have to credit my teachers at Demarest when I was a student here,” she said.

She named three: Cynthia McKee; Elizabeth Salerno; and Linda Tamar.

“Mrs. McKee taught me how to read,” Barton said. “ She was my first- grade teacher and I’ve had a love of literature ever since.”

Salerno and Tamar showed her how deep a relationship between a teacher and student can go. “It goes beyond the depth of lectures and lessons,” Barton said, who had Legionnaire’s Disease when she was in sixth grade.

“They visited me in the hospital with care packages and letters from classmates,” she said. “And I worked closely with a home-school teacher for a month while I recovered. As a child, I always wanted to work with people, either as a nurse or a teacher. I need to be with people.”

Teaching runs in the family and Barton credits her sister, Lauren, a teacher at Bloomfield Middle School, for helping her whenever she needed advice.

“I work with an amazing staff here,” she said of her Demarest colleagues. “And I am proud of my students, past and present.”

Demarest Principal Mary Todaro said she and her staff were thrilled with Jessica being recognized by the district. Todaro said the next step for Barton would be consideration for the Essex County title. County winners vie for the state title. But here at home in Bloomfield, Barton will be recognized at an upcoming Bloomfield Board of Education meeting and at Demarest, there will be a bouquet and luncheon.

The following teachers were named “teacher of the year,” at their respective schools, this year: Karen San Giovanni, fourth- grade, Berkeley; Lisa Gallagher, fourth-grade, Brookdale; Craig Silverglade, physical education, Carteret; Justin Guglielmino, fifth-grade, Fairview; Allison Bendokas, second grade, Franklin; Marissa Bezerra, third grade, Oak View; Elena Kazoun, kindergarten, Watsessing; Allison O’Neill, preschool, Early Childhood Center at Forest Glen; Carol Korzeniowski, Language Arts, Bloomfield Middle School; and Jo Anne Bonfante, business, Bloomfield High School.

Jessica Barton is Teacher of the Year in the Bloomfield District.

Photo by Daniel Jackovino

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