Kelly Wilbert a fifth-grade teacher at East Dover Elementary School in Toms River and a Toms River Education Association member, has been named a recipient of the National University System-Sanford Teacher Award for New Jersey on a surprise Zoom announcement.

To encourage greater acceptance of special needs students with their peers, Wilbert was noted for her efforts to help all students recognize that everyone is capable of growth and able acknowledge each other’s unique strengths and be compassionate. Her work had fostered significant progress in social development.

Wilbert is a pioneer in implementing the Sanford Harmony program, which promotes tolerance, positive peer relationships, empathy, and communications and self-regulation skills. Special needs students have peers who help model appropriate behavior. The children can practice and refine their social skills in a supportive and caring environment.

The Sanford Teacher Award honors the top teacher in each state and the District of Columbia with $10,000 for supporting student development and achievement in inspirational and harmonious ways. 

Each recipient is now eligible to be named the national winner of the Sanford Teacher Award, which comes with a total award of $50,000 and will be announced at a future date.

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