Three Alumnae Named NJ County Teachers of the Year
Three Kean University alumnae, Kristy DeFazio of Middlesex, Teresa Muzzo of Sussex, and Victoria Sasso of Union, were each named 2017 Teacher of the Year in their respective counties by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE). These educators are recognized for their valuable contributions to their local school communities and serve as ambassadors of education at the county and state levels.
“Kean University’s roots are in teacher education. More than 160 years after we welcomed our first class of students, we continue to graduate more teachers each year than any other college or university in the state of New Jersey,” said Anthony Pittman, Ph.D, acting dean of Kean’s College of Education. “It is remarkable that our alumni take the lessons they have learned at Kean into their own classrooms and, in turn, are recognized for their extraordinary commitment to preparing the next generation of students, citizens, and professionals.”
According to the NJDOE’s announcement, County Teachers of the Year are first selected as Teachers of the Year at their school through the Governor's Educator of the Year program.
“I am thrilled to be able to honor our amazing County Teachers of the Year for 2017-18, and express my appreciation for the work they do for their students,” said Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington in the NJDOE’s announcement. “New Jersey has many great teachers, and this award is a tribute to the talent, professionalism and dedication of these 21 educators to inspire the children they teach.”
DeFazio earned her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education with a minor in psychology and Master’s in Educational Leadership from Kean, where she was nominated as an Outstanding Professional Intern of the Year. She is a fourth grade teacher at James J. Flynn Elementary School in Perth Amboy, where she is also a field-trip advisor and math and science pilot teacher. DeFazio is a union representative for the American Federation of Teachers, and has also served as a Professional Learning Community facilitator, written district curriculum guides, coached high school cheerleading and orchestrated the district’s summer math program.
Muzzo has been teaching for the past 17 years at Halsted Middle School in the Newton School District, where she currently teaches language arts to 5th and 8th graders as a resource room and in-class support specialist. She earned her undergraduate degree in Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at Kean, and is certified to teach special education, elementary education and education of the hearing impaired. Muzzo focuses on reading activities that strengthen her students’ comprehension and vocabulary.
Sasso, a sixth grade English language arts teacher at Carl H. Kumpf Middle School in Clark, earned her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Kean. Formerly the school’s gifted and talented facilitator, she designed and implemented the district’s gifted and talented program. Sasso integrates technology into her teaching and utilizes differentiating instruction to optimize the learning environment for all students.
DeFazio, Muzzo and Sasso join a growing list of Kean University graduates who have been recognized for their excellence in teaching, including being named local, county and state Teachers of the Year. Among them, Kean alums Lauren Marrocco ‘03, ‘09, Kathleen Assini ‘01, and Mark Mautone ‘02 are previous New Jersey State Teachers of the Year.
According to the NJDOE, the Governor's Educator of the Year Program highlights educational innovation, student achievement, the rewards of teaching, and important services outside the classroom environment that lead to student success. The recruitment, preparation and recognition program also seeks to attract positive attention to the state’s educational system.
Photo of 2017 NJ County Teachers of the Year. Credit: New Jersey Department of Education