ACADEMY FOR EDUCATION AND LEARNING TEACHER NAMED STATE TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Jennifer Skomial is a Career andTechnical Education Teacher at Morris County School of Technology and the 2018-19 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year. Jennifer, like many others in the profession, has always wanted to be a teacher. Her earliest memories include “playing school” with her younger brother, whom she needed to bribe to have a willing student. Childhood was filled with creating her own worksheets, emulating her most memorable teachers, and practicing writing on her very own chalkboard. Not a day went by that she wasn’t eagerly practicing what she believes has been her life’s purpose.
Along the way, Jennifer sought out opportunities to work with children. Whether it was as a babysitter to many children in Denville, as a Sunday school
teacher, or as a tutor to many of the middle school children in Morris County, she was always honing her craft, taking what might have been challenging for some and breaking it down into more manageable, understandable pieces.
When it came to planning her junior and senior years in high school, Jennifer knew that she had to leave room in her schedule to be in the Child Related Careers program at Morris County School of Technology in Denville. It was there that Jennifer had her first exposure to lesson planning and teaching a real preschool class. Jennifer quickly excelled with the support of her teacher and mentor, Jean Constantine. Jennifer was always the first to volunteer in the classroom, spending as much time as possible working alongside her teacher, learning the ins and outs of the profession. Although she always knew she wanted to work with older students, this opportunity as a high school student couldn’t be matched. Much of what she learned about child development, classroom management, and the basics of lesson planning were acquired as a student in this program.
Upon graduation from Morris County School of Technology, Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in English-Secondary Education (2008) from Montclair State University. She completed her student teaching at Costley Middle School in East Orange and then began her career there teaching Language Arts. The following year, she was hired at her former high school, Morris County School of Technology, where she went on to teach English for five years. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching (Special Education) from New Jersey City University in 2013.
Throughout her own educational experiences, Jennifer encountered many passionate and dedicated teachers who fostered her desire to become an educator. She fondly recounts being captivated by Mrs. Lombardy’s enthusiasm in first grade, Ms. Toma’s passion in middle school, and Mrs. Constantine’s support in high school. Finally, Dr. Nicosia at Montclair State University served as a mentor and continues to be a positive role model in education.
Jennifer, who was named the 2018-19 Morris County Teacher of the Year and a New Jersey State Teacher of the Year Finalist in August, is responsible for preparing her students to become teachers, child psychologists, social workers, and guidance counselors at the Morris County School of Technology. Rather than a traditional classroom setting, students in Jennifer’s classes are coached as they prepare and teach lessons in an on-site preschool, attend guest speaker lectures and field trips to a variety of educational settings, and study child development, classroom management, and other education-related topics.
Over the past 11 years, Jennifer has served in a variety of roles such as club advisor for the National Technical and National Honor Societies, a co-advisor for student government, detention monitor, and testing proctor. She has served in the formal role of Lead Teacher by mentoring new teachers, establishing professional learning communities, providing professional development opportunities to colleagues, and serving on several district and school-wide committees.
Jennifer knows first-hand the importance of Career and Technical Education. She followed a passion of hers and developed it into a lifelong career. As a student, she competed in the SKILLS USA competitions at the state and national level alongside many other dedicated young people. She’s been married for seven years to her husband, Chris, a former classmate from MCST who is also still working in the career path he explored while in high school.
Jennifer is driven to encourage more students to go into the teaching field that she holds so dear. While many of the students she works with may not become early-childhood teachers, she knows that the exposure she provides them through hands-on experience in the on-site preschool, field trips to a variety of other settings such as elementary schools and non-profits, and a variety of guest speakers will make an impression on them and will help them determine which path to take.
2018-19 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year