Angeline Sturgis, who was previously named Lawrence Township’s 2012 "Teacher of the Year," has been chosen as the 2012-2013 Mercer County "Teacher of the Year," the New Jersey Department of Education announced recently.
Angeline Sturgis teaches English as a second language at Eldridge Park Elementary School.
"It was kind of out of my comfort zone," said Sturgis when discussing the most-recent recognition. "To be acknowledged by colleagues and administrators is something really special."
Students of Sturgis also joined in to commemorate their teacher's accomplishment.
"They started decorating the front door of my classroom," said Sturgis. "Some of the teachers got some of my students and former students to make hearts with messages to me."
Sturgis said she has a very different teaching style. While studying to obtain her BS in education from West Chester University, there was an emphasis placed on creating your own materials to teach with, she explained.
Sturgis has constructed board games, vocabulary aids and classroom decorations to impress her lesson points upon her students.
"When you make your own materials, it's not hard to differentiate from my youngest students...and my oldest student," said Sturgis. "I'm kind of doing the same activities, but I can change it up because I designed them."
Now in her ninth year in Lawrence Township public schools, Sturgis has been teaching for over 30 years. She said she first became inspired to teach ESL while working as a first-grade teacher at an international school in London.
"I was so impressed with the children who were bi- and tri-lingual," said Sturgis. "I just loved the way they learned – I loved the way they thought."
After taking a break from teaching to raise her children, Sturgis decided to pursue her passion to become an ESL teacher.
She also incorporates her Master's Degree in Creative Arts in Education into her lesson plan. Sturgis teaches the children through themes to increase language cognition.
Currently, Sturgis' classroom is decorated like a circus.
"Of course I'm not teaching about circuses," said Sturgis. "I'm teaching verb forms and vocabulary, and all the things that you do when you teach a language."
The Mercer County "Teacher of the Year" award qualifies Sturgis for consideration for the State "Teacher of the Year" honor. She will be up against teachers from the 20 other counties in the state.
The state winner will be announced at the October meeting of the State Board of Education. That winner will go on to represent New Jersey at the National "Teacher of the Year" competition.
Regardless of the outcome, Sturgis has described every year of her teaching career as a "wonderful experience."
"The kids who came the first day of school and didn't know any English at all, they're already talking to me," said Sturgis. "And, at the end of the year when they're able to say anything they'd like, that is such a joy."