Who needs an award when the kindergarteners say you’re pretty?


teacheroftheyear-webMary Ann Kiessling, a kindergarten teacher at Our Lady of Hope School, Blackwood, is New Jersey’s Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year.

Photo by James A. McBride

BLACKWOOD – Mary Ann Kiessling, a kindergarten teacher at Our Lady of Hope School, was named New Jersey’s Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year for 2013 in an annual competition sponsored by the New Jersey Council for American Private Education (NJ CAPE).

She will be honored, along with other finalists, during a ceremony on Oct. 8 at the State Department of Education in Trenton.
Kiessling said she didn’t expect the award but after 36 years as a teacher “it’s nice to be recognized. I guess people feel I’m doing an admirable job.”
She noted that she has been teaching kindergarten for 25 years. She has taught every grade level, with the execption of second grade.
“The award is nice but the best part of the job are the kids,” she said.
“What other job can you have where you come to work every day and get a hug and told you’re pretty,” she said with a chuckle. “Now I’m getting the children of those I taught years ago which means they had a good experience and they want their kids to have the same experience. I love that.”
Principal Sister Paula Marie Randow said everyone is happy for Kiessling and “it’s a great honor for the school. She’s a wonderful teacher and she has a great relationship with her students.”
Sister pointed out the importance of kindergarten education.
“They’re reading by the end of kindergarten,” Sister Paula said. “Ms. Kiessling motivates parents and encourages students to do their best. The kids are excited about learning and are happy to learn. They enjoy themselves so much they don’t even know they’re learning.”
Kiessling was nominated by the principal “because of her dedication and her belief in Catholic education.”
She has performed community service by participating in and/or sponsoring several fund-raising activities each year for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She serves as a mentor for elementary teachers and a team member of the Middle Atlantic States Accreditation Team.
The finalists for the Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year, who will also be honored Oct. 8, are Julie Blanco of Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills and Joyce Fazio of King’s Christian School in Cherry Hill.