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These 12 Alternate Route Mentors Brag About Their Candidate Mentees

Mentor and mentee


Our Alternate Route candidates are fortunate to learn from some of the best educators in New Jersey. During our candidates’ time in the Alternate Route program, they develop life-changing relationships with their mentors, receiving advice they carry with them throughout their education careers. 

In these relationships, the Alternate Route mentors and mentees give equally. The mentees receive from seasoned colleagues valuable practical guidance that is not always gained through formal instruction, and the mentors reap the rewards of watching their mentees successfully implement suggested strategies or improve their own teaching practice with fresh ideas that new teachers introduce in their classrooms.

We often hear how mentors have helped their mentees succeed, but what if we shared the positive impact mentees have had on their mentors? 

We asked our mentors to share what they love about their mentees and how they helped make the recent school year a success. 

Read on to see 12 mentors brag about their mentees. 



“With COVID, most schools did not fully run their band programs. However, our school allowed our music program to run and Nick was instrumental in finding ways that the students could have as much of a normal experience while still being safe. His hard work led us to be able to showcase our students in marching band as well as a live in-person spring concert.”

Mentor: Soni Gasko 
Mentee: Nicholas Seifert | Music - 9-12



“My favorite is her daily PowerPoint spiral review/ mini-lesson. She reviews everything continually and adds upcoming content to scaffold the learning. I am so borrowing this idea. I learn as much from her as she gleans from me. It is a collaboration. She is already a seasoned professional. The certificate is just paperwork.”

Mentor: Ardith Thornton 
Mentee: Genesis Muhammad 1st Grade



“One thing that I love, in particular, he sends emails out to parents when students are doing well in his class. Typically, parents only receive negative emails. So, when they open a positive email it brings them great joy!”

Mentor: Beth Molinaro  
Mentee: Ryan Dunne 9-12 English



“I cannot imagine tackling the challenges of this past school year as a first year teacher; our school was open the entire year and Barbara handled it with skill and grace.”

Mentor: Bridget Abood 
Mentee: Barbara Murphy | First Grade Self-Contained



“Her excitement is evident the moment she starts talking about it. She makes me want to learn what she is teaching! She has expertise well beyond high school physics, but is able to explain her research and experience to high school students in a way that grabs their interests. She has also been great at connecting with students, which has been extra difficult during this virtual/hybrid year! I'm looking forward to the teacher she will be next school year!”

Mentor: Juanita Greene 
Mentee: Stasia Kuske | Physics - 10th Grade



“What I have found amazing about her is that no matter how much she knows about her subject matter; no matter how well she prepares for her students; she always made sure to remain after each of our class meetings for additional inquiries about how to improve her craft, expressing that she understands the challenges with which her students are faced, so her intentionality was around finding ways to meet her students' needs outside the curriculum.”   

Mentor: Phyllis Bivins-Hudson 
Mentee: Ritu Maharishi | Science Middle School (grades 7 and 8)



"She was given a brand new curriculum with flaws, an instructional leader who was new to our school, and a grade level team all new to teaching... all during a pandemic! She did not let any of this stop her as she excelled in lesson planning, building relationships with her students, and training academic support teachers. She continued to put the best interest of her students first and was their biggest advocate. She grew tremendously during this school year and I'm so excited to cheer her on in year two!”

Mentor: Hayley Pollack 
Mentee: Katrina Notarmaso | Third Grade- ELA Planner



“Melissa never gave less than 110% and she was a positive force in the lives of her students. I was genuinely inspired by her ability to navigate the complex world of virtual learning. Her dedication to all students was phenomenal and her willingness to express her concerns and highlights with colleagues is truly commendable. Melissa has reignited my passion for teaching and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her!”
Mentor: Leora Mitchell 
Mentee: Melissa Miller | English Language Arts Grade 6



“As we were virtual for the majority of the school year, Ms. Morales volunteered her time to build out an after-school virtual space for colleagues to gather to connect and build relationships. Ms. Morales teaches with empathy and demonstrates care in all projects.”

Mentor: Michele Bavaro 
Mentee: Ingrid Morales Art Teacher



“Despite the stress of being a first year alternate route teacher coming into 2020 a couple months into the school year, he was able to remain calm and reflective throughout the whole process. This aura that he carried with him constantly created a classroom environment that was welcoming to all students regardless of their background or academic ability. He found ways to genuinely connect with high achieving students in his dual enrollment class as well as sheltered students with limited academic backgrounds and English acquisition. He treated everyone fairly and respectfully.”

Mentor: Dennis Villavicencio       
Mentee: Thomas Malone | 10-12 sheltered biology and anatomy and physiology



“He didn't get rattled with the shift in buildings, not having a solo classroom, new principals, going into the classroom and working with different personalities of teachers as well as kids. He was so accommodating to the teachers, parents, and kids. He also was so great at understanding kids' frustrations, parent communication, and meeting everyone in the middle. That is something that teachers don't have after years of teaching. Nick has it naturally.”

Mentor: Krissy Pesce 
Mentee: Nick Corvino | General Music



“His love of French and French culture came through in every lesson. When Doug faced obstacles or potential pitfalls, he was quick to reach out to me with relevant questions that not only responded to his current question at hand, but also dug deeper into the affects his decisions would have on future lessons and interactions with students, guardians, colleagues, and administration. Working with Doug is a pleasure and has helped me grow as a mentor, coach, and all around educator.”

Mentor: Cynthia Coster 
Mentee: Douglas Goldman | French Grades 6-8


If you’re considering following your dream of teaching, Rutgers Alternate Route can offer you the support and training you need to succeed. Be sure to follow Rutgers Alternate Route on Twitter and sign up for Alternate Route’s monthly newsletter for more information and stories from the field of education.


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Heather Ngoma

Heather Ngoma has over 20 years experience collaborating with educators across New Jersey to drive education innovation. She currently serves as the Director of Rutgers University's Alternate Route Teacher Training Program at the Center for Effective School Practices, a program which helps career changers, recent college graduates and other aspiring education professionals become licensed teachers in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter @heatherngoma.