Montclair, NJ – Josh and Judy Weston established the Judy Weston Awards for Inspired Teaching in 1991 to acknowledge and celebrate Montclair Public School teachers who stood out to parents/guardians and students for being creative, talented, and supportive and they were awarded until 2016.
After a short hiatus, Josh Weston is excited to announce the return of the awards in Judy’s honor. “Judy was the heart and soul of these awards,” said Josh Weston. “She understood that great teaching is both an art and a science, and she was passionate about wanting to honor the many talented teachers in our district who exercise their craft so well on behalf of Montclair students.”
The awards now honor Judy’s memory. Judy was a long-time Montclair resident and public school supporter. She was an engaged mother of four Montclair High alums who believed that dedicated and empathetic educators are vital to helping every student achieve their full potential. Judy’s spirit continues to shape these awards; the new title and even the logo (designed by Judy’s granddaughter, Siena Weston Delaney) are a nod to her belief that the real measure of teacher excellence is inspired – and inspiring – teaching practices.
All parents/guardians of current Montclair Public School students and current MPS students themselves are encouraged to nominate teachers. Nominations can be written or submitted as an audio or video recording. Students can submit photos of their written nomination as well. The awards are being administered by the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE), and nominations are being accepted at mfee.org.
“When Josh came to MFEE with the idea of bringing back the awards, we were delighted,” said Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, executive director of MFEE. “Teachers are the single most important school-based driver of student success, so celebrating and supporting teachers is key to supporting students. We are excited to work alongside the Westons to meaningfully highlight the amazing teachers in our Montclair schools and to honor them for impactfully carrying out one of the toughest and most vital roles in our society.”
So, what is “Inspired Teaching”? The awards will honor both master teachers and those who are on their way to achieving that status. Inspired teaching combines a range of skills across several core areas: teaching that facilitates impactful learning experiences, teaching that supports all students, and teaching that creates a caring classroom culture. Personal stories that show how this teacher excels and makes an impact are encouraged.
Sixteen teachers across Montclair Public Schools will be selected to receive individual cash awards of $2000, including one award designated specifically for a special education teacher. The deadline for all nominations is April 16, 2023.
“Many thanks to Josh Weston for recognizing that nothing is more important to the success of our students than the quality of their teachers,” said Schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds. “We are very fortunate in Montclair to have dedicated and amazing teachers and I’m grateful that the Judy Weston Award — whose past honorees include some of our current principals — is back to honor educators who have changed students’ lives.”
Once the nominating period closes, the selection committee will read all of the nominations (without names associated). The committee will pick at least one teacher from each school to receive an award (two awards will go to the high school). In addition, one award will be set aside for a special education teacher, regardless of their school(s). There are three “at-large” awards that can be given to teachers at any of Montclair’s 11 public schools. The selection committee will be composed of 12 members, a combination of education professionals and community leaders.
The awardees will be notified at the end of April, and they will be presented with their awards on June 1st at 6pm in a public ceremony hosted by the Montclair Public Schools.
“We know that 16 teachers will be honored, but we also plan to use this as a chance to highlight each and every amazing teacher who is nominated,” said Rodriquez-Vars. “We want to share the list of all educators who are nominated publicly, as well as share with the nominees some of the amazing stories we hear about the work they are doing. We are excited to shine a light on the fact that Montclair truly has some of the best teachers out there.”
Visit MFEE.org to learn more about the awards and to nominate a teacher.