Science Teacher Linda Librizzi nominated for ASAH’s “Educator of the Year”

Science Teacher Linda Librizzi nominated for ASAH’s “Educator of the Year”
Posted on 12/29/2015
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Linda Librizzi was selected as a finalist for “Educator of the Year” out of hundreds of submissions from ASAH’s 150 member schools statewide. ASAH (Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped) is a nonprofit organization of private schools and agencies throughout New Jersey which provide highly specialized services to more than 11,000 infants, children, and young adults with disabilities.

A science teacher at Collier High School for the past 6 years, Linda is known for sharing her love of science and animals with her students. Her classroom is like a pet shop, lined with cages and tanks that house a variety of animals.  Her students are provided an opportunity to learn to be responsible for another living thing, helping them develop a sense of awareness of others’ needs—a social skill some students lack prior to arriving at Collier. The class pets also act as therapy animals with this special-needs population. Linda notes, “I have some students who come right from the bus first thing in the morning to sit with our bunny. Petting and caring for the rabbit helps to ease their anxiety and transition into their school day.” By releasing this tension, students are able to focus in class, participate in discussions, and build healthy relationships with their peers.

While many students choose to visit with the animals on their own time, Linda does a phenomenal job of integrating animals into the curriculum of all her classes. For example, when teaching genetics, Linda will cross breed chickens and keep the fertilized eggs in an incubator. Throughout the process Linda discusses recessive and dominate genes and, as a class, they determine what traits each chick will have. Students get to watch the eggs hatch and “adopt” a chick to take care of while in school. This type of hands-on learning appeals to students by incorporating their love of animals while helping them retain the lesson. “It is so important to support our students and make each one feel known and valued,” said Linda. “Providing a sense of community and interacting with students makes them see just how much we are committed to their education. It is up to us as teachers to make their time in the classroom productive and meaningful.”

Linda also facilitates Collier’s “Animal Lovers” club, one of our most popular, in which students learn about, and how to care for, various animals. They organize fundraisers to benefit the Woodbridge Animal Shelter and adopt an animal at the Popcorn Zoo. They even present Collier’s animals at the Monmouth County Fair where they have won blue ribbons three years in a row. Outside of Collier, Linda is very active within her community. She can be seen helping to restore shore beach grass in Asbury Park and participates in the Rutgers University Teen Climate Change Summit.

Collier is very proud of Linda’s accomplishment, but given her enthusiasm, passion for teaching, and ability to engage students, the “Educator of the Year” award was no surprise. Congratulations, Linda!