Learn more about the 2020-2021 New Jersey County Teachers of the Year:

What is your name & job title?

Jaclyn Terebetski
Business/Technology Teacher (Carteret High School)

Do you love your job? What do you love about it?

I absolutely love my job. I love being surrounded by people who want to make a difference. It is so rewarding to walk into your classroom every morning and know that something you do or say can truly stick with your student for the rest of their lives. Not many people have this opportunity in their career.

Tell me about your students.

My students are of high school age. They are amazing young adults that have their whole lives ahead of them. I am so lucky to be able to sometimes have the same student two or three times throughout their high school tenure, due to the classes I teach. I love having students multiple times because you really watch them grow up. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing your students walk across the stage at graduation. It is amazing to be a part of such a crucial part of their lives. They make me proud every single day.

Tell me about a project related to your work that you’re really proud of.

One of the projects I am most proud of is my children’s book project. My students write small stories that have true lessons and meaning. My students then bring this story to life by creating illustrations on Photoshop. We upload their illustrations to a movie program and the students record their voices reading the story. It is an awesome experience because we share these books with our elementary students. We have even had the opportunity to visit some of the elementary schools when the videos are shared with the students. Seeing how happy my students are and the elementary students are, truly has brought tears to my eyes at times!

What is your connection to your union/local association?

I fully support our union and work closely with them because I run the Cultural Committee at my school, which is similar to a sunshine club. I believe the union and Cultural Committee have aligned envisions for supporting our teachers, so we have come together on a few occasions such as our holiday party and end of the year BBQ. I am very happy to have this relationship.

Why did you choose a career in public education?

I always wanted to be a teacher but I did not take the conventional route to get there. I went alternate route, which was a challenging but amazing experience. I am so grateful for this program because it really helped me follow my dreams of becoming a teacher. I ultimately dreamed of being a teacher because I really wanted to make a difference, even if it is in one person’s life.

Have you had a teacher or educational support professional who inspired you?

My mom is one of the most influential and inspiring teachers I have ever had. My whole life she allowed me to take part in her career and encouraged me to follow my dreams when I ultimately decided I wanted to be a teacher. My mom spent hours with me, as a child, setting up my fictional classroom and took me on endless trips to Hammonds to get all the supplies I needed to be the best teacher to my stuffed animals. My mom was a wonderful teacher in her own classroom and in our home.

If you had to describe public education in one word, what would that be?

“Opportunity” – because public education gives every student an opportunity, but it is also up to the student to take on that opportunity and succeed. As an educator, I believe that it is imperative to ensure your students see each unique opportunity that is presented to them and motivate them to make the best of any experience.

Public education is facing many challenges. One is the impact that COVID-19 has had on how we teach and how students learn. What have you learned about how you, your colleagues, and your students adapted to remote instruction?

I think I have learned one of the most important lessons of my life during COVID-19, especially being an educator. Of course my colleagues and I want our students to learn and succeed but during remote learning, we really saw how important mental health is to all of us. Although the situation has been challenging I think a lot of us learned how to be human again. I feel we are always moving so fast forward and not living in the now. I think COVID-19 has shown us how important it is to appreciate the small things and people in your life and to make sure you are always checking in with others and showing your human side. I think by being human with our students and just being understanding has helped instill the faith that good people still exist in this world, amidst a lot of evil.

As a result of George Floyd’s murder, along with other tragedies targeting Black people, more and more people are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. How has this affected you as an educator, and as a person, and how do you see yourself addressing systemic racism through your work as a teacher?

In the area I work in, we do have a high population of minorities, especially those of the Black community. I think these tragedies have greatly affected our community and it does need to be addressed in the classroom. I personally cannot say I fully understand what the Black community faces on a daily basis but I do believe in the classroom I can support their want for change and as a role model, provide constructive conversations on how, as a nation united, we can bring upon change. I think it is imperative to address the situation and encourage my students to continue to be upstanding citizens and work together to reunite our community and nation.

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