VFEE Announces ‘Excellence’ Honorees

By on March 19, 2019

Brian Samples and Victoria Cirigliano

The Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence (VFEE) has named the Verona public school teachers who will be honored this year with its Inspiring Excellence awards: Victoria Cirigliano, Tatiana Fella, Amy Heckel, Max Morden, Angela Salisbury and Brian Samples.

Victoria Cirigliano teaches first grade at Brookdale Avenue Elementary School. She received her bachelor of arts degree from Montclair State University in early childhood education and is certified to teach kindergarten through eighth grade.  She completed her master’s degree in December 2004 in reading from MSU.  Cirigliano has recently earned her Orton-Gillingham teacher certification after two years of hard work and dedication.  She feels confident that her new knowledge will help all her young readers learn to love reading using this multi-sensory approach to learning.  In her spare time, Cirigliano enjoys playing with her boys, going to the shore, running 5K races, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Tatiana Fella has been teaching first grade at Forest Avenue School since March 2002. She graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a bachelor of arts in psychology and elementary education, with a master of arts in teaching, as well as with an instructional technology specialist certification. She continued to pursue post graduate work in the areas of special education and reading specialty through New Jersey’s Regional Training Center for Educators. In the spring of 2017, Fella completed
Orton-Gillingham teacher certification through Fairleigh Dickinson University, which is a program certified by the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC). Lastly, in December 2017, Fella concluded a busy year by receiving a teacher of students with disabilities certification through Rutgers University. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her boys and two puppies.

Amy Heckel and Max Morden

Amy Heckel teaches eighth grade science as well as eighth grade anthropology at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School and is a yearbook advisor.  She received her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Notre Dame and her master’s degree in education from Seton Hall University. She received a certificate in e-learning and online instruction through the University of California, San Diego.  Heckel grew up in Wisconsin and loves watching the Green Bay Packers. She also enjoys reading, playing the piano, archaeology and paleontology, baking, playing soccer, making jewelry, watching movies, yoga, knitting and crocheting, geocaching, and cheering on the Fighting Irish and Packers football teams. In her free time, Heckel also volunteers with Our Lady of the Lake’s Youth Group.  An avid traveler, she recently visited Australia and New Zealand as a teacher chaperone. She enjoys spending time with her family in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

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Max Morden teaches beginner band in all four elementary schools, brass lessons at Verona High School and conducts the VHS brass ensemble as well as the high school jazz band known as Verona Jazz & Beyond. He is also the Sound/Light Club advisor. As the director of the Verona Summer Music program, he is in charge of the daily operations, teaching trumpet classes and jazz classes and creating mayhem in the hallways. Mr. Morden maintains an active career as a professional freelance performer, composer, and arranger. He plays trumpet, guitar, keyboards and sings. He has performed in variety of settings from Broadway to rock ‘n roll, and lots of things in between.

Angela Salisbury and Tatiana Fella

Angela Salisbury has been serving as a Verona High School business education teacher since 2002. She graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a bachelor of science in marketing, and a concentration in sports and events marketing. After entering into New Jersey’s Alternate Route Program, she received her New Jersey Teaching Certification in 2003. Salisbury teaches marketing, advertising and sales, business law, entrepreneurship, and event marketing. Salisbury is also running the
Senior Capstone Program at VHS. She is a co-advisor for Heroes & Cool Kids, co-advisor for DECA and serves as the
Publicity Club advisor. When not at work, Salisbury enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, being at the beach with friends and traveling with her family whenever possible.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Brian Samples teaches third grade at Laning Avenue School. He has been a classroom teacher at Laning for 12 years and loves teaching students in such a wonderful district.  Samples is dedicated to helping each student reach his/her full potential in a comfortable, nurturing, and enjoyable atmosphere. Samples is an avid New Jersey Devils fan. When not teaching, he enjoys collecting records, reading, listening to music, and spending time with his family – especially in Long Beach Island or Disney World.

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VFEE’s 2019 toast to Verona’s most inspiring teachers will be held on Friday, April 5. The event will be held from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Cougar Den in Visceglia Hall on the campus of Caldwell University. Tickets are $55 per person, and include food, wine or beer and, of course, support for VFEE. Tickets are available for purchase on VFEE’s website until April 1.

VFEE is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that solicits donations to fund a comprehensive grant program designed to enhance the educational experiences of Verona’s public school children. District faculty and staff can apply for one of the five core grants to obtain resources to expand, enhance and enrich the classroom learning experience. VFEE also funds major projects that enable a school, a department, or team access to larger cash awards to further enhance a particular educational initiative. Over the years, VFEE has funded the leasing of a large number of Google Chromebooks, hands-on science programs and a science resource database, and learning tools for special needs students that were designed by students at H.B. Whitehorne.

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