Van Holten Teacher of the Year and Educational Services Professional are honored at ceremony

Van Holten Teacher of the Year and Educational Services Professional are honored at ceremony

A celebration of the commitments and dedication of staff members in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District was presented on Tuesday, May 4.

The Somerville Elks Lodge served as the venue for the school district’s annual—and highly acclaimed—Staff Recognition Reception.

The event was held to honor the 2023-2024 Bridgewater-Raritan Teacher of the Year and the Educational Services Professionals for all 11 schools in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District.

A total of 22 staff members–two from each school–were honored before an estimated crowd of 175, which included administrators, board of education members, staff, teachers, and families of the honorees.

The reception was sponsored by the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association (BREA), while the ceremony was coordinated by the energetic and valuable Suzanne Klos, the Executive Secretary to the Superintendent.

She was assisted in preparing for this elite ceremony by Terry Brown and Kaitlyn McGhee, who are Administrative Assistants in the Office of the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.

Laura Kress, the BREA President, opened the ceremony with her remarks that cited the faithfulness and devotion that are exhibited by the 22 honorees as well as the entire school district.

Superintendent Bob Beers followed Ms. Kress and touched on how “Bridgewater-Raritan is unique in that we are able to hold an event such as this.”

He applauded the honorees and the school district for “a high level of commitment to excel’ and described the teaching profession as a calling rather than a job.

Each school principal was given the opportunity to speak and introduce their two distinguished staff members–Teacher of the Year and Educational Services Professional of the Year.

Each honoree received a commemorative gift that was handed out by the Board of Education Vice President, Jennifer Loughran, and a Board of Education member, Stacey Friedlander.

Here is a summary of each Van Holten honoree presented by Principal George Rauh.

Megan Rutkowski
Van Holten Primary School
Grade 1 Teacher

Van Holten Primary School is proud to honor Mrs. Megan Rutkowski as the Teacher

of the Year. She is a veteran teacher with 17 years of experience in the Bridgewater-
Raritan Regional School District. Mrs. Rutkowski holds certifications in elementary and

special education. During her career, she has had a variety of teaching assignments. She
currently leads a first-grade classroom at Van Holten. Regardless of the assignment,
Mrs. Rutkowski demonstrates a calm, patient approach to help students have a
successful year in school. She excels at inspiring all of her students to view curriculum
and situations from a variety of perspectives and encourages them to persevere to meet
the demands put in front of them. Mrs. Rutkowski is remarkable in knowing when to
provide support or when to take a step back to let the student(s) work on their own.
The entire school community views Mrs. Rutkowski as a dedicated, hardworking
educator who spends countless hours planning, preparing, learning, reflecting,
collaborating, and listening in an effort to make her classroom a fun and safe place that
children want to come on a daily basis.
As Mrs. Rutkowski shared, “A student’s smile or hug at the end of a good day makes it
all worthwhile.” This is probably the reason why Mrs. Rutkowski’s students run off the
bus to get to her classroom each morning. That says it all! Van Holten is lucky to have
this gifted teacher who inspires young minds to reach new heights!

Sarojini Panwar
Van Holten Primary School
Instructional Assistant

Mrs. Sarojini Panwar has been working in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School
district for the past three years as an Instructional Assistant in an LLD classroom. In
the past two years at Van Holten Primary School, she has clearly demonstrated
excellence making a lasting impression on students, parents, teachers, and the
Mrs. Panwar has proven to be a skilled and dedicated educator. Each day she arrives at
school ready to make it a special one. Regardless of a student's background or abilities,
she encourages students’ best efforts. Mrs. Panwar researches specific disabilities
outside of school hours so she can better support her students. She has worked to
build relationships with her students by getting to know them as people. Her knowledge
of students and the relationships she has built has helped to defuse potentially difficult
behavioral situations or motivate a student to complete a difficult assigned task. She
anticipates what students need to be successful and makes sure it is available when
needed. Her students see her as a warm, caring teacher that they can count on in any
It is easy to see why Mrs. Panwar has made such a positive impact in such a short
amount of time. Our school community is fortunate to have had Mrs. Panwar transferred to our building two years ago. We will make sure she remains at Van Holten
for years to come!
It is an honor to recognize Mrs. Panwar as Van Holten’s Educational Services
Professional for the 2023-2024 school year!

Listed below are the 22 staff members who were honored.

Teacher of the Year Award - 2023-2024
Alexandra Pelligrino, Adamsville, Special Education Teacher
Susan Winters, Bradley Gardens, Grade 2 Teacher
Kimberly Kaminsky, Crim, Special Education Teacher
Paige Hering-Boehme, Hamilton, Grade 1 Teacher
Angela Randazzo, John F. Kennedy, Grade 3 Teacher
Bryan Smith, Milltown, Physical Education Teacher
Megan Rutkowski, Van Holten, Grade 1 Teacher
Jaclynn Hurley, Eisenhower, Grade 5 Teacher
Taryn Prince, Hillside, Grade 6 Special Education Teacher
Ashlen Udell, Middle School, Teacher of Music
Hsiao-yu Lin (Sherry) Griggs, High School, Teacher of Music
Educational Services Professional Award - 2023-2024

Deborah Calabrese, Adamsville, Speech Language Specialist
Puja Arora, Bradley Gardens, School Counselor
Monica Hammond, Crim, Elementary Teaching Specialist
Kathleen Hughes, Hamilton, School Nurse
Holly Gibson, John F. Kennedy, Intervention Specialist
Stephanie Campisi, Milltown, School Counselor
Sarojini Panwar, Van Holten, Instructional Assistant
Tara Rutkowski, Eisenhower, Instructional Assistant
Maria Giardella, Hillside, Learning Disabilities Teaching Consultant
Rosalia Finazzo, Middle School, Instructional Assistant
Lauren Amisial, High School, Student Assistance Counselor
 Linked below is the program that features the background of each of the 22 honorees.


BRRSD 2024 Staff Recognition Reception Program