- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A sixth-grade language arts teacher in Salem County has been named New Jersey’s teacher of the year.

Chelsea Collins received the honor Wednesday, beating out four other finalists. She has taught in the Woodstown-Pilesgrove school district in southern New Jersey since 2011.

Before she joined the district, the Woodstown Middle School teacher helped develop effective reading practices for students in several grades. Officials say she routinely uses assessments and data to improve classroom instruction, and differentiates instruction based on the needs of her students.

As the state’s top teacher, Collins will get a paid six-month sabbatical from January to June next year. During this time, she will work closely with state education officials on special projects and will be involved in other state and national activities.

Collins graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations and earned her master’s in elementary education from The College of New Jersey. During that time, she also spent a year at the University of Barcelona, studying Spanish, international business, and Spanish architecture and painting.



Collins said the best part of her job is when students give back to their community as a result of her influence. She also said she is thrilled when she gets a note from parents who can see progress their children are making, and she said she is touched when her students express their love of learning and acknowledge her role in their progress.

“To me, my greatest accomplishments are in inspiring students to build their lives and their futures, and in showing that hard work and diligence will open doors and give them endless and limitless opportunities,” Collins said.

The other finalists were Jennifer Clune, a K-2 special education teacher at Jeffrey Clark School in East Greenwich Township School District in Gloucester County; Michael Martirone, a ninth-grade social studies teacher at Egg Harbor Township High School in Atlantic County; Darlene Noel, a third-grade teacher at Green Street School in the Phillipsburg School District in Warren County; and Kristine Shurina, an eighth-grade English teacher at Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School in Somerset County.

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