A group of 13 local education leaders will review nominations for the Judy Weston Awards for Inspired Teaching.

The awards, established by Josh and Judy Weston to honor public school teachers, are returning after a six-year hiatus. Administered by the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence, the awards will honor 16 Montclair school district teachers who stand out for their creativity, talent and support of students. The teachers are nominated by Montclair students and their guardians, and each winner will receive a cash award of $2,000.

“Committee members bring a variety of school and youth-related expertise, ranging from a head of a preschool to leaders at local colleges, a recent Montclair alum working with teens, and several retired master Montclair teachers and administrators,” a press release about the awards says.

The selection committee members include:

  • Marilyn Davis, Montclair State University Network for Educational Renewal, Center of Pedagogy
  • The Rev. A. Craig Dunn, Montclair Neighborhood Development Corp.
  • Marcheta Evans, president of Bloomfield College
  • Cheryl Hopper, retired Montclair public schools principal, former head of Montclair State University school leadership initiatives
  • Kathy Hurling, retired Montclair public schools teacher
  • Ellen Luca, Special Education Parent Advisory Council
  • JoAnne McCullough, IMANI
  • Tanya Poteat, Montclair Child Development Center
  • June Raegner, Parent Teacher Association Council
  • Joy Scally, retired Montclair public schools teacher
  • Janet Torsney, director, Montclair Public Library
  • Doris Walker-Bennett, Sister to Sister
  • Naomi Wallace, Montclair YMCA

“Having representatives from all of these organizations read these stories from families — and see the excellence in our schools — is an important part of deeply honoring our educators and creating a strong public school community,” Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, executive director of MFEE, said in the press release.

Including retired Montclair schoolteachers on the committee is especially valuable to the award’s mission. 

"Teachers do many seemingly small but meaningful things each day for their students that are hallmarks of excellent teaching," said Hurling, a retired Montclair teacher and past Weston Award nominee. 

“I know firsthand how challenging and rewarding it is to be a teacher, and I am excited to bring that lens to this process to shine a light on Montclair's educators."

Nominations for the awards are due April 16. Awardees will be notified at the end of April, and they will be presented with their awards on June 1 during a public ceremony hosted by the school district.

Josh and Judy Weston established the Judy and Josh Weston Awards for Excellence in Teaching in 1991, and they ran until 2016. The awards now honor Judy Weston's memory, marked by the new award title, the release says. She died in 2020.