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Palisades Park Teacher wins on the 25th Anniversary of the New Jersey Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year Award

October 2, 2018

Julia Guthrie, a teacher at Notre Dame Academy in Palisades Park, New Jersey, is the recipient of the New Jersey Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year Award for 2018 in a competition sponsored by the New Jersey Council for American Private Education (NJCAPE). This annual award will be presented on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at a ceremony scheduled for noon at the New Jersey Department of Education in Trenton, New Jersey.

Ms. Guthrie has spent 6 years in education, the last 5 at Notre Dame Academy. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History from William Paterson University and a Master’s Degree in Education with a Special Education Endorsement from Felician University.

Ms. Guthrie was selected to attend a special seminar entitled "Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment" a summer teaching seminar sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History at the University of Edinburgh this past summer. In the past, she has attended other seminars sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History at Princeton University and the Ashland Weekend Colloquium at Ashland University in Ohio.

She is involved with community service at the Saint Matthew food kitchen and a program entitled “Windows and Mirrors: Asian American Books in the Classroom.”

Ms. Guthrie views education as a process capable of changing both individuals and society for the better. She notes that “students need to be grappling with problems that are personally meaningful to them.” She receives personal satisfaction from the opportunity to help avowed nonreaders find the one book that changes everything for them. She has developed three projects which promote academic excellence in students and professional growth in teachers. They include local history projects which identify places which tell the story of the town where their school is located.

She has also designed a unit on Global Education, and her students have partnered with a school in Australia over a trimester to share their values and learn about their differences. She organized a yearly conference, nErDcampNJ, which was designed to connect authors of children’s literature with teachers and teachers with one another.

The Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year finalists are Stephen Mitchell, a teacher of Latin, History, Media Production, and World Peace Game at Rutgers Prep School in Somerset; and Elaine Petsu, Math teacher and Department Chair at Immaculata High School in Somerville.

For the past 25 years, the Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year award has been conducted under the auspices of the New Jersey Council for American Private Education (NJ CAPE). Each member of NJ CAPE, which represents all major nonpublic school constituencies in New Jersey, is invited to submit a nominee for the award. That nominee has already competed within the organization’s schools to achieve finalist status. Additionally, individual schools with no representation on NJ CAPE are invited to nominate members of their own staff. The award is significant because almost one out of every eight students in New Jersey is educated in a nonpublic school, a significantly higher percentage than the nation as a whole.

Dr. George Corwell, Director of the Office of Education for the New Jersey Catholic Conference and Chairperson of the Selection Committee for the award, commented on the experience of selecting this year’s winner:

Nonpublic school teachers play a significant role in preparing their students for the challenges and needs of the 21st Century. It is through their efforts that parents have the opportunity to experience parental choice in education by having their children attend a school that best suits their needs.

Julia Guthrie, Elaine Petsu, and Stephen Mitchell are committed to the highest level of professional growth, as well as to quality instruction and character development in their students. Their dedication and the dedication of so many other teachers in nonpublic schools advance the lives of both nonpublic school children and the communities in which they live.

Sponsorship for the Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year was provided by Catapult Learning, Inc., William Sadlier, Inc., ConnectOne Bank, and Future Energy Solutions as well as individual organizations within NJCAPE. Dr. Corwell noted that “these companies have shown exceptional leadership in education within the state of New Jersey and nonpublic schools, and we are grateful for their continued support of this important award.”