‘A hero inside and outside the classroom’
PV history teacher becomes Teacher of the Year
December 5, 2018
Former Pascack Valley history teacher Karen Kosch recalls her first time seeing Leah Jerome, PV history teacher, teach her class. Kosch had mentored her and would meet with her once a week to go over her lesson plans.
“The first time I saw her teach, I just thought ‘She’s got it!,’” Kosch said. “And you just look at her and see that she is good. She is comfortable in the room, planned, and ready and she enjoys it.”
Jerome was named PV’s Teacher of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year on Wednesday, Dec. 5. Students, faculty, and administration had the opportunity to nominate a teacher and an educational services professional for the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Educator for the New Jersey Department of Education. Danielle Macaluso was selected for PV’s educational specialist of the year.
Congratulations to Ms. Leah Jerome on being selected as Pascack Valley’s Teacher of the Year. This recognition is well-deserved and we are fortunate to have such an outstanding teacher such as Ms. Jerome working with our students everyday. Congrats ! pic.twitter.com/Ho5iWMjYaG
— PVHS_Principal (@PVHS_Principal) December 5, 2018
“I was overwhelmed and very humbled because I work with a lot of amazing teachers and it’s something that I take to heart,” Jerome said. “I’m very grateful and honored knowing the great group of people I work with. It just makes the honor all that more important and meaningful.”
Jerome realized that she wanted to become a teacher after she had worked for a year in a different profession. She said that teaching had always been something she had thought about pursuing in the future from the positive academic influences throughout her life.
“I have relatives who are teachers and I’ve always admired their lifestyle and it seemed like they really enjoyed what they did,” Jerome said. “I had a great high school history teacher named Al Deaett and he was the football coach at Glen Rock. He was able to give everything as a coach and everything as a teacher. One was not more important than the other. He’s always been my kind of ‘goal’ teacher.”
Jerome said that she has always been interested in history, which her mother and father took note of at a young age.
“I was just talking to my dad,” Jerome said, “and I think my first memory of me being a human being was going to a voting booth during the 1988 presidential election.”
With her parents, Jerome would visit many historical places, such as Philadelphia and Plymouth Plantation. Now, she hosts a trip every year with Matthew Schulien, a teacher of business education, open to students during spring break. She also visits a Native American reservation in South Dakota with Marisa Mathias, a history and Religion in America teacher, and students over the summer.
Her parents also encouraged her to read history books for book reports and watch documentaries.
“I had to do a biography in second grade, so they encouraged me to read about Eleanor Roosevelt,” Jerome said. “Or if the president was giving a speech, I’d get to stay up late, run downstairs, and watch it.”
Mathias said that Jerome was a “perfect choice” for Teacher of the Year.
“She’s a hero inside and outside the classroom,” Mathias said. “She’s involved in her own extra curricular clubs. She always goes to sporting events and every single play that the theater puts on.”
Jerome serves as the club advisor for the Animal Rights League, One Spirit, and began the Asian Culture Club. She is also the class of 2021 advisor.
Kosch believed that Jerome was going to be a “great teacher for our kids” the first time she met her.
“It was just so refreshing to see somebody so excited to be a teacher,” Kosch said. “and to love teaching and be so accomplished in what she had already mastered with the content and her love for history.”
Jerome is grateful for the students who took the time to nominate her for this award.
“I like to think that this is an award more of a reflection of the people I’m surrounded by because they are the people who make me a better teacher,” Jerome said. “If I didn’t have the kids that I have or the supporting crew around me, whether it’s my colleagues or administration, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I wouldn’t be nearly as happy, motivated, or inspired.”
The following is Jerome being named Teacher of the Year by Pascack Valley Regional High School District Superintendent Erik Gunderson. This was contributed by Kenneth Sarajian, a PV history teacher.
Below are videos of teachers and an administrator reacting to Jerome becoming Teacher of the Year.