Head of School Blog

NJ Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year Speaks at First Annual All Saints Forum

Jill Singleton | Volume: 6 Issue: 14 | Jan. 25, 2017
Last week we held our First Annual All Saints Forum – an opportunity for the whole community to hear directly from the Board of Trustees and Head of School about the current and future direction of the school. A sizeable crowd of parents and teachers gathered to ask questions and share ideas about the school community we all love. The evening was capped off with an inspirational speech by our very own Ms. Colleen Nguyen, NJ Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year 2016. Her remarks follow.

I am so honored to be the recipient of the NJ Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award for 2016. I am so thankful to all of the amazing and dedicated people I work with and especially thankful for Ms. Jill Singleton, our Head of School. She believed in me six years ago and has given me so many opportunities to grow as a teacher at All Saints Episcopal Day School. This award has served as a reminder, on not only why I love teaching, but why I love teaching at All Saints Episcopal Day School.

I feel fortunate to work at All Saints Episcopal Day School, a non-public, independent school where kindness, compassion, and social responsibility are just as important as academic excellence. I work in a school were the message that we instill in our community is that we are all related. Robert Frost once said, “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” Isn’t this so true? When I teach, I hope to inspire our students to dream, to wonder, and to grow. Through annual initiatives that support our school mission, I am continually inspired to help our students meet their full potential as well. I see in our student body future world leaders, teachers, athletes, dancers, doctors, mathematicians, and scientists. If we can all foster kindness and compassion in our next generation, what a bright future awaits us!

The role of the non-public school is becoming even more important in the times that we live in. To create a safe, nurturing atmosphere where every student is encouraged to reach high levels of academic excellence while also teaching and fostering a love for the environment and the joy of service is paramount to creating solutions against the problems that plague our world. How lucky I am to work in an environment where collaboration among students as well as teachers is encouraged.  

Likewise I am thankful to work in a school where building relationships with the Hoboken community is encouraged. Each year when students in Fourth Grade commit to a class called Action Research they realize that it is not just adults, but children who can change the world. Students go above and beyond the call of service when they research reasons to ban the plastic bag or the importance of composting and present their findings to our local city council members. To our students, it is so simple- they say, “There is a problem! Let’s fix it.” Because I work with students who understand the power of being solution focused and actively engaged in problem solving, I cannot help but feel energized and inspired as well.

Working in a school where the mission goes beyond academic excellence and also recognizes the importance of service, spirituality, and stewardship for the Earth has made me a better teacher and I hope a better human being. Students don’t just say reduce, reuse, recycle. They live and breathe the mission by leading a school wide composting program, creating projects out of recycled goods, and participating in an Earth Rally each year to raise awareness. Likewise, I am in awe of the true love of service that is fostered in our student body. This year over 20 students committed their free time to look for ways to help people, animals, and the Earth by joining our afterschool Service Club, Saints-4-Service that I am proud to co-run. They recognize that the world can change through their actions.  

When I am out in the community I am always proud of our students. Their good manners and genuine respect for others is a direct correlation to the mission of our school. School is not a place to simply ingest information but rather it is a place of peace and friendship. It amazes me that when the day is over and it is time to go home, how reluctant our students often are to leave because they genuinely love learning and the community we have created.

The heart and soul of All Saints Episcopal Day School is one of compassion, kindness, and community. I am fortunate to work in a school where I have the opportunity to be actively involved in growing the curriculum and learning from my peers. I would like to end today with gratitude and share a quote with you from Benjamin Franklin that I often think about and share with my own students:

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Questions? Comments? Ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: jsingletonallsaintsdayschool.org.