2012-13 Educator of the year Award Published on Apr 29, 2013
Lauren Marrocco, a fourth-grade teacher in Perth Amboy, is the 2012-13 N.J. Teacher of the Year. Marrocco teaches at E.J. Patten Elementary School where she encourages classroom collaboration while incorporating brain-based learning strategies.  The National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. The NTOY is chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a National Selection Committee representing the major national education organizations. Each April, the NTOY is introduced to the American people by the President of the United States. A candidate for National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) is a State Teacher of the Year who is an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled teacher in any state-approved or accredited school; prekindergarten through grade twelve, who is planning to continue in an active teaching status. The National Teacher of the Year candidate should inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues, play an active and useful role in the community as well as in  the school, be poised, articulate, and possess the energy to withstand a taxing schedule, Becoming National Teacher of the Year At the national level each State Teacher of the Year submits a written application containing biographical and professional information, eight essays on topics ranging     from personal teaching philosophy to the issues facing education, and letters of endorsement. A National Selection Committee, composed of representatives from fourteen national education organizations, meets in early December to choose four finalists from the nominations received and, following personal interviews with the finalists in Washington, D.C. in late February, selects the National Teacher. In April the National Teacher is introduced to the nation by the President and honored in a series of events in Washington, DC Billberg honored with American Legion Teacher of the Year Award A Vermillion High School social studies teacher was among the honorees at the 2012 Veterans Day Program at the W.H. Over Museum Monday. Although Lenni Billberg never served her county in the armed forces, she was presented with the American Legion Teacher of the Year Award for a project she started in 2008 that encourages local students to interact with veterans. “Students had to do the following: They had to find, interview and write … a pictorial biography of a veteran in our community,” Billberg said. “They could find somebody that was a relative, a friend, a neighbor who had served at some point in their life, whether it was in a war or whether they were still serving today.” The Veterans Project has since become Billberg’s favorite project. “They’re due Dec. 20, so truly, my Christmas present to myself is to take them home and read them each Christmas break,” she said. “As I read these stories, each year I get a wonderful (piece) of history about you guys, about you men and women who have served for us.” The stories have ranged from one about a young soldier who was injured in Korea and rescued by a family, to another about a young female codebreaker who recounted D-Day as the day when the air went silent, to a story of a Marine who arrived at his barracks shortly after the 1983 bombing Lebanon. “All of these stories each and every year make me wonder how you guys did it, how you dared to put on that uniform,” Billberg said. “But the question for me when I was given this award was, ‘Why did you do it?’” Billberg said her grandfather, who served in France during World War II, was her main reason for starting the project. “Sadly for me, he passed away in 1995, before I dared to ask him his story,” she said. “We knew he was a mine-finder traveling ahead of tanks. We knew he served from December of 1941 to 1946. But he passed away in 1995, that was all we  knew, and my family feels the void for not knowing his story. …“So, it was my job to tell your story,” she said. The Veterans Project has given some of Billberg’s students a chance to do what she was unable to.  “I had a student two years ago who walked up to me at the end of the school year, ix months after his project, who said, ‘Ms. Billberg, thank you for making me do the Veterans Project, ” she said. “His grandfather had passed away one week earlier. It was truly an honor for me to say, ‘I’m glad you got to know your grandfather.’ served in local Guard units, so many of you have served just to serve,” she said.   “You continue to serve because (the people in) his great region of South Dakota … don’t want your 15 minutes of fame. You served because you’re laborers of freedom, and unafraid to sacrifice the most to make a difference for us all.”Vermillion High School social studies teacher Lenni Billberg receives an American Legion Teacher of the Year Award from Clint Meadows, adjutant of the legion in Vermillion, during the Veterans Day program at W.H. Over Museum Monday.  
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