CREST HAVEN – Mechele “Shelley” Forsman has taught language arts to eighth graders in Upper Township Middle School for 19 years. This year is special because Forsman has been named Cape May County Teacher of the Year.
She was honored for attaining the honor by freeholders at the Tue., May 22 meeting.
Accolades were heaped on the beaming Forsman by Executive County Superintendent Dr. Richard Stepura and Vice Director M. Susan Sheppard.
Both mirrored Forsman’s belief that teachers have power to influence lives of their students.
A graduate of The College of New Jersey, Forsman “comes from a long line of educators,” said Stepura. One teaches in Millville School District another in Lower Township and another taught in Upper Township.
Also joining the proud moment was Upper Township Superintendent Vinnie Palmieri and Principal Ken Barth of the Middle School.
Added Stepura, Forsman believes teaching “…is more than a job, it’s a way of life. Her philosophy of teaching is about connecting with the child.”
She knows the “importance of understanding the student and creating learning bonds,” he added. Active not only in the classroom but also in extracurricular activities, Forsman recognizes “professional development is extremely important” in learning new teaching practices and understanding technology.
Key, too, is Forsman’s grasp of how special eighth grade is to pupils since it is a transitional year when they will be leaving elementary education and entering high school. She is a class adviser who helps with special events including the promotional ceremony that sends off those pupils to the next level of their schooling.
Forsman has strong relationships with her colleagues, Stepura said. Additionally, she has been both a “formal and informal mentor for teachers. She is a member of the Upper Township Education Association and is a valued member of the community.
“It is obvious that Mrs. Forsman is a special person and an exceptional teacher,” said Stepura.
Her county award means that an application has been made to the state Department of Education for consideration as New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, he added.
“It is nice to be recognized,” smiled Forsman as she rose to speak to those seated behind her. She began teaching since 1982. She began teaching, had that career interrupted for a while, then returned to Upper Township, she recalled.
She thanked her husband, present with her, Palmieri and Barth, and her sisters as all playing a part in helping her become teacher of the year.
A movie had to be created for the state, she noted, and added that project was “daunting and scary and I only cried a couple of times.”
Forsman believes herself “lucky to be a resident of Upper Township and a teacher.”