SOUTH BRUNSWICK: Exceptional educators, support staff recognized by school board

By Deb Dawson, Special Writer
SOUTH BRUNSWICK — Exceptional educators and exceptional educational support people were recognized at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
Each year the district provides an opportunity for deserving teachers, educational services professionals and educational support staff to be recognized by students, parents, colleagues, administrators or citizens in the community for their dedication and professional impact on students and the school community.
This year there were 302 submissions for 158 staff members nominated. The selection committee comprised teachers, administrators and a parent representative. The committee reviewed each letter submitted.
These are the winners for each school: Brooks Crossing/Deans, Khadija Safi, first grade teacher and John Kronmaier, custodian; Brunswick Acres, Jillian Beck, special education teacher and Sherry Zippo, custodian; Cambridge, Courtney DeSandre, first grade teacher and Diane Romatowski, paraprofessional; Constable, Susan Dailey, social worker and Maria Lupo, paraprofessional; Greenbrook, Rob Spadafora, special education teacher and Karen Molnar, paraprofessional; Indian Fields/Dayton, Joyce Lis, kindergarten teacher and Sue Charboneau, paraprofessional; Monmouth Junction, Jill Ward, art teacher and Daisy Mistretta, paraprofessional; Crossroads North, Melissa Jenkins, social studies teacher and Jody Previte, paraprofessional; Crossroads South, Lucille Rogan, instructional support teacher and Terry Pietrefesa, paraprofessional; and, South Brunswick High School, Lisa Manganello, library/media specialist and Maryann Murphy, secretary to the principal.
Superintendent Gerard Jellig said of the award winners, “It’s worthwhile just to recognize excellence for what it is.”
Board President Stephen Parker said, “On behalf of the board … our students are successful because of what you do … . Thank you.”
Two new principals were also announced at the meeting. Both will start their jobs on July 1. Christi Pemberton, currently a principal in Dunnellen, will take over at Cambridge. Peter Rattien, currently assistant principal at Monmouth Junction and formerly assistant principal at Cambridge and Constable, will take over at Constable.
Bobbi Brown announced two upcoming fundraising events for the Education Foundation of South Brunswick — a golf outing set for Friday, May 22, and a bicycling event, the Tour de South Brunswick, set for Saturday, May 30. Both events can be found on the website
Several students addressed the board regarding concerns about the dress code. Sophia Balsamo, who is the student representative on the Board of Education said, “There are two main objections to the dress code; first it is discriminatory and disproportionately applied to female students. Second, it is unfair toward taller and thicker girls. Speaking to the first objection, it is understood that the intention of the dress code is not to maintain control over female students, but the general feeling around the female populace is that they are expected to dress themselves so as not to distract boys. They feel the code hypersexualizes body parts such as shoulders and thighs, and punishes girls at times for something as simple as a bra strap.”
She went on to say it is difficult, particularly for taller and “thicker” girls, to find dress code appropriate clothing that is fashionable.
Inappropriate remarks by hall monitors are also a concern, “Many of my fellow female students, good kids with perfect records, have told me about how they’re stopped in the hallway, often with sarcastic remarks, about their improper clothing … ”
Male student Ahan Sikri raised the issue of inappropriate remarks as well. For instance, he said one student was told, “You’ll be raped in the parking lot if you dress like that.”
Mr. Jellig said that was totally unacceptable and he hoped that students would come to the administration immediately if something like that happened.
Another female student, Zeena Mohamed, addressed the board, and said she had been told that she would be raped in the parking lot for dressing as she did. She said she told the administration about it and nothing had happened to the offender.
Board member Harry Delgado said it was possible something had been done but it was not made public because it would have been a personnel matter.
Board member Arthur Robinson said he would raise the issue of the dress code with the Policy Committee if the students can get him some additional information. They spoke with him after the meeting. 