Toms River, NJ Regional School Teacher named New Jersey State Teacher of the Year!
Our teachers are such a huge part of what we learn and who we become from the very beginning of our educational journey in school to this very moment, years after we graduate, it all has lasting power and what we learn from them makes us better people and educated and prepared for the world around us.
Teachers are always going above and beyond, doing everything they can to make this learning experience so valuable.
We need them and we need to be there for them.
One teacher in the Toms River Regional School District has exemplified such excellence, dedication, and difference making that she is receiving high and deserved honors.
Christine Girtain, who is a teacher and the Authentic Science Research director at Toms River High Schools North and South, was named the 2022-23 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year on Wednesday by the New Jersey Department of Education, according to announcements from the NJDOE and Toms River Regional School District.
This marks the first time an educator/teacher from Ocean County has been bestowed such recognition, according to the TRRSD.
The NJDOE first named Girtain Ocean County Teacher of the Year and Wednesday was chosen as the State Teacher of the Year out of the 21 NJ counties.
Her dedication to science and education was part of why Girtain, who has been teaching this subject in a total career spanning 32-years, was chosen.
The NJDOE said:
"Christine, a graduate of Toms River Schools herself, has been teaching science for 28 years, including Earth Science, Biology, and Authentic Science Research. The Authentic Science Research program at the Toms River Regional School District is a three-year elective program that allows students to pursue and conduct independent research on a specific science topic that interests them. As the director, she has guided student projects ranging from the effects of fruit seed extracts on bacteria, to bioengineering E. coli. Her students have connected with Penn State researchers to learn about microbes that may block the spread of the Dengue and Zika viruses, and they have been to an immersive research program in the rainforests of Costa Rica."
A special virtual ceremony was hosted by the NJDOE where Girtain was joined by family, friends, students, district and school administrators, as well as state representatives and they watched as the announcement was made on this honor.
"New Jersey’s 2022-2023 State Teacher of the Year is Christine Girtain, Science Teacher and Director of Authentic Scientific Research at Toms River High School North and South! Congratulations on your phenomenal achievement!"
Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent Michael Citta described in a written statement what this honor means.
“Christine Girtain personifies what it means to be a teacher here in Ocean County and Toms River, which is student-focused and with a passion to develop our children into lifelong learners,” Superintendent Citta said. “Ms. Girtain operates without physical or intellectual boundaries—she has organized national and international science-based trips, and her educational approach and sheer personality challenge her students and colleagues to think beyond the ordinary. The result of her teaching is that students believe anything is possible, and their achievements reflect that. What more can you ask from a teacher? Ms. Girtain is an immense source of pride for this county, community, and me personally.”
Girtain continues to make a mark on science and education in helping so many sharpen their skills in this field and subject as well as in the classroom overall.
“I am excited to represent Toms River and Ocean County as the 2022-2023 NJ State Teacher of the Year. New Jersey is ranked highly nationally because of the great school districts we have across the state, and all the people who help make education function," Girtain said in a written statement. “I love networking different interest groups together, using their individual strengths to combine for a more robust, broader reach. Sustainable growth, both mental and physical, means that as we grow we meet our needs without compromising the needs of future generations.”
The Toms River Regional School District said that a special pep rally will be held to celebrate this huge honor at the RWJ-Barnabas Health Arena on Monday October 17 where students, faculty, and staff will gather and the NJEA will present her with a car to use for a year.
“Christine Girtain is a mosaic of inspiration as an educator, an innovator and simply a genuine person who makes a difference in our community,” Toms River High School South Principal Kevin Raylman said in a written statement. “She creates a scaffolding of opportunities that enable individual students the chance to accomplish great things. Ms. Girtain has established an academic structure that pushes students and enables them to realize their untapped potential. Additionally, her educational presence impacts her colleagues as she both inspires and encourages the professionals around her. Whether it is an intense student-driven experiment or through something as mundane as a collegial conversation in the hallway, Ms. Girtain is making a positive and profound change. We are truly proud to have the good fortune to grow and learn from her on a daily basis.”
“Authentic Science Research has long been a source of pride here at Toms River High School North,” Toms River High School North Principal Ed Keller said in a written statement. “This is a direct result of the hard work and dedication exhibited by Mrs. Christine Girtain. Mrs. Girtain challenges her students to be the best they can be while offering the support they need to ensure their success.”
Here are some more congratulations and thoughts on the Teacher of the Year award from around the TR School District.