Teacher of the Year award goes to local educator

October 13, 2023 at 9:30 a.m.


Lauren-Carmel Sirak, second-grade teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows School, Hamilton, was recognized Oct. 12 during the annual Catholic Schools Mass in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, as the recipient of the New Jersey Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year Award for 2023.

Sirak is “an energetic and creative teacher who exemplifies the values and mission of OLS School,” said Maureen Tuohy, principal of OLS.

    Lauren-Carmel Sirak, second-grade teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows School, Hamilton
 
 


Sirak was called up to the sanctuary during the Catholic Schools Mass and presented with a bouquet of flowers by diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools Dr. Vincent de Paul Schmidt. She was also congratulated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, and her school’s pastor, Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Council for American Private Education (NJCAPE), the 30th annual competition also included the following finalists: Susan Jotz, a 13-year educator from St. John the Apostle School, Clark, where she teaches pre-K-5th grade math, science, language arts and religion; and Alexandra Schmidt, a 15-year educator who currently teaches at All Saints Episcopal Day School, Hoboken.

Sirak began teaching in 2008 and joined OLS in 2014 as a second-grade teacher, where she teaches math, ELA, science, social studies and religion. Her first job in teaching was in Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy, Hamilton, as a middle school science teacher. She holds an Associate of Fine Arts degree from Mercer County Community College, a Bachelor of Science degree from Rider University, Lawrenceville, and a Master of Science degree in church management from Villanova University, Pa. 

In addition to her classroom schedule, Sirak serves her community as a lifeguard and swim instructor at the Catholic Youth Organization, Yardville, and as the head coach of cheerleading at her alma mater, Rider University. Ms. Sirak is also a peer mentor at OLS, where she runs a summer enrichment program for students, and mentors new faculty members.

Sirak stated that her “philosophy of education is practical and effective because it, like the United States Constitution, is pliable enough to grow, but solid enough to be the basis of effective teaching.” Her greatest satisfaction is watching students develop the knowledge and understanding of subjects and guiding them in their faith journey. Sirak approaches her teaching responsibilities with strong values, patience and kindness, and a caring, fun attitude that creates a warm, friendly classroom environment.

“Nonpublic schoolteachers are pivotal in preparing students for the skills and knowledge needed for the rapidly evolving challenges of the 21st Century, especially here in New Jersey,” said Dr. George Corwell, director of the Office of Education of the New Jersey Catholic Conference and chairperson of the selection committee for the award. “Their efforts strengthen the advancement of parental choice in education so that parents have the right to send their child to a school that best suits their individual needs.”

The Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year Award has been conducted under the auspices of NJCAPE.  All major nonpublic school constituencies in New Jersey are invited to submit a nominee for the award.  This award is significant because almost one out of every eight students in New Jersey is educated in a nonpublic school, a higher percentage than the nation as a whole.  

“Our winner, Ms. Sirak, and finalists, Ms. Jotz and Ms. Schmidt, demonstrate each day what it means to be fully invested in your career,” Dr. Corwell continued, “and they represent the best and brightest among the thousands of dedicated nonpublic schoolteachers who do their jobs in a way that embodies the true spirit of education, while enhancing the lives of nonpublic school children and the communities in which they live.”


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Lauren-Carmel Sirak, second-grade teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows School, Hamilton, was recognized Oct. 12 during the annual Catholic Schools Mass in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, as the recipient of the New Jersey Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year Award for 2023.

Sirak is “an energetic and creative teacher who exemplifies the values and mission of OLS School,” said Maureen Tuohy, principal of OLS.

    Lauren-Carmel Sirak, second-grade teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows School, Hamilton
 
 


Sirak was called up to the sanctuary during the Catholic Schools Mass and presented with a bouquet of flowers by diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools Dr. Vincent de Paul Schmidt. She was also congratulated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, and her school’s pastor, Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Council for American Private Education (NJCAPE), the 30th annual competition also included the following finalists: Susan Jotz, a 13-year educator from St. John the Apostle School, Clark, where she teaches pre-K-5th grade math, science, language arts and religion; and Alexandra Schmidt, a 15-year educator who currently teaches at All Saints Episcopal Day School, Hoboken.

Sirak began teaching in 2008 and joined OLS in 2014 as a second-grade teacher, where she teaches math, ELA, science, social studies and religion. Her first job in teaching was in Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy, Hamilton, as a middle school science teacher. She holds an Associate of Fine Arts degree from Mercer County Community College, a Bachelor of Science degree from Rider University, Lawrenceville, and a Master of Science degree in church management from Villanova University, Pa. 

In addition to her classroom schedule, Sirak serves her community as a lifeguard and swim instructor at the Catholic Youth Organization, Yardville, and as the head coach of cheerleading at her alma mater, Rider University. Ms. Sirak is also a peer mentor at OLS, where she runs a summer enrichment program for students, and mentors new faculty members.

Sirak stated that her “philosophy of education is practical and effective because it, like the United States Constitution, is pliable enough to grow, but solid enough to be the basis of effective teaching.” Her greatest satisfaction is watching students develop the knowledge and understanding of subjects and guiding them in their faith journey. Sirak approaches her teaching responsibilities with strong values, patience and kindness, and a caring, fun attitude that creates a warm, friendly classroom environment.

“Nonpublic schoolteachers are pivotal in preparing students for the skills and knowledge needed for the rapidly evolving challenges of the 21st Century, especially here in New Jersey,” said Dr. George Corwell, director of the Office of Education of the New Jersey Catholic Conference and chairperson of the selection committee for the award. “Their efforts strengthen the advancement of parental choice in education so that parents have the right to send their child to a school that best suits their individual needs.”

The Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year Award has been conducted under the auspices of NJCAPE.  All major nonpublic school constituencies in New Jersey are invited to submit a nominee for the award.  This award is significant because almost one out of every eight students in New Jersey is educated in a nonpublic school, a higher percentage than the nation as a whole.  

“Our winner, Ms. Sirak, and finalists, Ms. Jotz and Ms. Schmidt, demonstrate each day what it means to be fully invested in your career,” Dr. Corwell continued, “and they represent the best and brightest among the thousands of dedicated nonpublic schoolteachers who do their jobs in a way that embodies the true spirit of education, while enhancing the lives of nonpublic school children and the communities in which they live.”

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