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Drew Student Teachers Honored

9 honorees in 7 years.

August 2018 – Once again, Drew University graduate students are distinguishing themselves in teaching.

Heather Pollak and Michelle Taliento—who hold Master of Arts in Teaching degrees from Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies—earned the 2018 Distinguished Clinical Intern Award from New Jersey’s Department of Education for their student teaching during the 2017-18 academic year.

Nine Caspersen students have earned the state honor in seven years. For details on past winners, please scroll down.

Pollak taught social studies at the Pearl R. Miller Middle School in Kinnelon, N.J. and Taliento taught English and theater at Lyndhurst High School in Lyndhurst, N.J. In each case, their pupils included students with disabilities.

Pollak learned the value of reflection.

“Every day after school we would sit down and go over what worked, what didn’t work and what I could do differently in the future to improve,” said Pollak, who now teaches history at Kinnelon High School. “I took away from this that although not every lesson will be perfect, you can gain valuable insight about yourself and your students through each and every experience.”

For Taliento, the experience crystalized the notion that “teachers need to lead with their hearts.

“I teach a subject that I’m passionate about, and because of that, I am building passion for literature in my students,” added Taliento, who now teaches English at Cresskill High School and drama at Cresskill Middle School. “When people like MAT Program Director Kristen Turner and Professor Lauren King taught from a place of love, I understood why teachers have one of the most important and meaningful jobs in the world. My cooperating teacher at Lyndhurst, Cheryl Ruiz, was a perfect example of a veteran teacher who used her love of students to keep her going through the hard times.”

Pollak and Taliento have deep roots at Drew, as they spent their undergraduate years there and earned bachelor’s degrees in 2017. Pollak majored in history and Taliento, in English and theatre arts. They completed their MAT studies in May, with each also earning certification in special education.

For more on Caspersen’s MAT program, please click here.

Statewide recognition

Nine Caspersen students have earned New Jersey’s Distinguished Clinical Intern Award since 2011.

2018 – Heather Pollak, Michelle Taliento

2017 – Jonathon Dragon, Noreen Syed

2014 – Anna Elson, Gaelan Noel Johnson

2013 – Rachel Preyss

2012 – Priscilla Sanches Salles

2011 – Frank Sedita