Newark Public Schools Announces and Surprises the 2018 Teacher of the Year during the Launch of Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Lourdes Reyes Exceeds Expectations for Students and Families

Photographed are Principal Fuentes, Vice Chair of the Board Dawn Haynes, Ms. Cruz (Ms. Reyes’ daughter), Teacher of the Year Lourdes Reyes, Interim Superintendent Robert Gregory and Board Member Asia Norton.

NEWARK, NJ – May 7, 2018 – Interim Superintendent of Newark Public Schools Robert Gregory, along with administrators and the principal of First Avenue Elementary School today surprised the 2018 Newark Public Schools Teacher of the Year Lourdes Reyes.  Ms. Reyes has been teaching for 20 years, 15 of those years at First Avenue School, where she teaches Grades 1 and 2, including teaching children with autism. 

“Ms. Reyes represents the best in teachers in Newark Public Schools,” said Interim Superintendent of Newark Public Schools Robert Gregory.  “Teachers are the backbone of our schools, communities and society – when they do a great job, it is evident in how our students are engaged and excel in the classroom and in life.”  The Interim Superintendent presented Teacher Reyes balloons and a bouquet of flowers before her class, teachers, administrators, family members and parents.  One of Ms. Reyes students commented, “She is the best teacher.” 

Ms. Reyes is known for exceeding expectations and going above and beyond the needs of students, including engaging the family in the learning process right in the classroom, according to First Avenue Principal Jose Fuentes, who submitted Ms. Fuentes name for the annual recognition program, which recognizes a teacher of the year overall and a teacher of the year for each of the district’s schools.  Teachers representing all Newark Public Schools will be recognized at a luncheon on May 30. 

Essex County Freeholder Robert Mercado presents a proclamation on behalf of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Looking on are Assistant Superintendent, NPS Dr. Yolanda Mendez, Ms. Reyes and her daughter, Ms. Cruz.

Mr. Fuentes said, “Ms. Reyes brings out the best in every student through unique and engaging lessons.  She is patient, kind, thoughtful, compassionate and excited about teaching – and her love of her students engages the entire family in her class.  In addition, she identifies the best methods to aid her students, including incorporating cooking into the classroom.”  According to the Principal, some students who were non-verbal are now verbal and express themselves well and are skilled in sign language. 

At the presentation today, Ms. Reyes was joined by her daughter, a teacher at Newark Public Schools Elliott Street School, who commented, this is my mother’s life – she loves the children, and she loves her job.  Ms. Reyes was also presented a proclamation from the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, presented by Freeholder Robert Mercado.  Ms. Reyes tried to hold back tears when she said, “This work means the world to me….my son is autistic, he graduated from Regional Day School/a Newark Public School – the love and education he received at Regional Day has allowed him to live a full life – I am proud and honored to serve the children of Newark and First Avenue School.”   

 NPS Board members, Vice Chair Dawn Haynes and member Asia Norton also participated in the surprise presentation.