Honoring Colleen Nguyen – NJ Teacher of the Year 2016
Head of School: Jill Singleton | Volume: 6 Issue: 4 | September 28, 2016
As Ms. Nguyen delivered her acceptance speech at a luncheon honoring her for being selected as NJ Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year, I was moved by her words of dedication, optimism and joy. Sitting next to Libby Vino, the 2011 Teacher of the Year, I was overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude for the professional community at All Saints. Our teachers bring their best selves to the table each and every day, and our students work hard and shine as a result. In truth, my emotions were colored with a touch of sadness as well, as I thought about the vast majority of children around the world who do not have access to high quality teachers and education. I can’t help but wonder what our world would be like if an All Saints education was the norm all over the globe.
Please enjoy some excerpts from Ms. Nguyen’s speech, below:
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 where the message we instill in our community is that we are all related. If we can foster kindness and compassion in our next generation of world leaders and future diplomats, 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!
I am thankful to work in a school where building relationships with the 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. They recognize that the world can change through their actions.
Please join me in congratulating Ms. Nguyen on being selected for this well-deserved honor – Teacher of the Year 2016.
Photo 2: Ms. Nguyen pictured with Libby Vino, Teacher of the Year 2011. Photo 3: Ms. Nguyen pictured with Jill Singleton and Carole Everett, Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. Photo 4: Ms. Nguyen with her students.