The Teachers & ESP of the year are…

Lisa Tonnisen, ESP of the Year, keeps score at the Wizards game with a group of her Play Unify and Unify Generation students sitting behind her.


            On March 18, Principal Dr. Vincent Sasso and the other building administrators announced this year’s honorees for Teacher of the Year for both the GNC and the main building as well as Education Support Professional of the Year: Carolyn Hauser, a Spanish teacher in the GNC, Scott Beverly, an engineering teacher in the main building, and Lisa Tonnisen, a paraprofessional aid in the main building.

            During period 7, administrators, a group of EMGNC teachers, and Hauser’s husband and grandchild came to congratulate her in her classroom. The family members that attended greeted her with cake and flowers. “It was even more special that Dr. Sasso invited my husband, John, to be here that day,” said Hauser. “My granddaughter Kayla, who is 9, was off from school that day, so my husband picked her up, and she was able to be part of the celebration as well.”

            Hauser expressed her joy at celebrating the honor with her family, colleagues and students, whom she strives to help every day. One of her students, Natalie Goldberg, voiced, “I strongly believe Mrs. Hauser deserves the Teacher of the Year award because she is an incredibly active teacher as she is always helping her students and fellow students she may not even have. She is always trying to look out for her students and provides them anything they need, like any help.”

Robert Obdyke, dressed as Elsa, sings “Let It Go” to Scott Beverly while Connor Hobson throws “snow” on him to recreate one of Beverly’s legendary pep rally performances.

            The news about this award spread quickly, exciting everyone who heard about it. Angelina Weber, another Spanish teacher in the GNC, shared, “I was extremely proud and happy for her, and I thought that she deserved it. She is very dedicated to her students, and she has had an extremely challenging year, and she has made the most of it.”

            As the celebration at the EMGNC took place, the main building prepared for the big reveal of the main building Teacher of the Year during 8th period.  To honor Mr. Beverly, who plans and hosts pep rallies as well as other activities, students, staff, and administrators organized a pep rally dedicated just to him in. Dr. Sasso announced the winner of Teacher of the Year for the 2021-22 school year as Beverly walked in. Beverly said, “I was pretty caught off guard when I heard the news that I had won. It’s certainly a great honor and I was excited to be chosen.”

Carolyn Hauser cuts her cake while her husband, who came to school for the announcement, holds plates to put the slices on.

            Nearing the end of the Pep Rally, Robert Obdyke read aloud the letter he wrote to nominate Beverly. Obdyke stated, “When I nominated Mr. Beverly, I practically wrote a novel about him. I told Mr. Beverly that if he won the award, I would share with him what I wrote. After hearing that he won, I could not wait to read him my nomination letter.”

Students throughout the building acknowledge the positive impact Beverly has had on their high experience. “Bev is the best teacher and I’ll stand by that forever,” Elizabeth Fitzpatrick expressed. “He does so many things for the benefit of others that I wouldn’t want any other teacher to get the title”

The students in the Unify Generation class and Brooke Chlebowski hold up signs in support of Lisa Tonnisen winning ESP of the year.

            On the same day, the district also issued another award, Education Support Professional of the Year, to Lisa Tonnisen, a paraprofessional in the main building who also works extensively with Project Unify. During her Unify Generation class, Dr. Sasso walked in with teachers and students from her classes and announced her award. Tonnisen exclaimed, “The award was announced in the best place possible, with my Unify Generation Class!! They are why I do what I do! When they walked in with all the signs, it was amazing!”

            Staff and students celebrated Tonnisen’s well-deserved recognition with flowers and banners. Anthony Downey, one of her students voiced, “I am so proud of Mrs. T. She is nice, proud, smiley, happy, and helpful.” 

Scott Beverly sings “Back to School,” backed by James Oliveri, Robert Cotungo, and Richard Torok.

            Tonnisen most visibly impacts the district through her work with Project Unify, Play Unified, and Unify Generation. “I absolutely believe she deserves this award,” shared Salvatore Acquaviva, one of her Unify Generation students. “Mrs. Tonnisen loves what she does. If it weren’t for her or Mrs. Lewicki we wouldn’t have the Unify Generation class that we have today. Mrs. Tonnisen is so sweet and adores everyone in Play Unify.”

            The process for selecting the honorees for these awards involves student and staff nominations, a building-level committee that sends two nominees to the next level, and a district-level committee that selects the winners. Each committee considers input from students, colleagues, and community members to make decisions.

Posted on 4/14/22

Photos by Ryan Conn, Hayat Aydin, Sally Fazio, and Tim O’Neill

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