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Liberty Middle School Teacher Receives New Jersey Association of Student Councils 2020-21 Advisor of the Year Award

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Vince DeJesus, Eighth grade Science teacher at Liberty Middle School, has received the 2020-21 New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC) Midde Level Advisor of the Year Award. DeJesus co-advises Student Council along with teacher Alyssa Sylvester.

 

DeJesus and Sylvester took over the Student Council after the passing of LMS Science teacher Susan Zaccaro in 2018. DeJesus had worked with Zaccaro for 12 years and considered her to be his mentor. Zaccaro initially connected LMS to the NJASC.

 

According to their website, NJASC describes themselves as “the nation's oldest student leadership organization. Since its inception in 1927 as the New Jersey Association of High School Councils, the NJASC has continually evolved and constantly been at the forefront of student leadership and student issues. The NJASC is dedicated to helping middle and high school student councils to be more active and engaged in their schools and communities. Throughout the school year, the NJASC works with both student leaders and student council advisors to encourage participation in student government and provide a forum for students to network and share ideas for successful projects and events.”

 

“I started as a substitute when Liberty was still in the trailers at the high school and I've never left,” mentioned DeJesus, who is beginning his fifteenth year in the school district.

 

Liberty Middle School officially opened in December of 2005, and prior to its opening students spent three months in the trailers that once stood at West Orange High School.

  

In addition to serving as co-advisor to the Student Council, DeJesus also helps out with the STEM and Science Clubs. “I’m not an official advisor because I want to expand the opportunities for the other teachers,” he explained.

  

“My team here went behind my back and nominated me for the award,” DeJesus laughed.

 

“Alyssa, Science teacher Maria David (recently recognized by the NJ Devils), Principal Bob Klemt, and Student Council co-presidents Alexa Dias and Nyah McKinney were all in on it.”

 

He added, “The award is given out by the New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC) so it is a statewide award. I'm told that I will be eligible for a national award, the Warren E. Shull National Advisor of the Year, but haven't received the information about it yet.”

 

In a letter to the NJASC, Klemt said, “Mr. DeJesus constantly looks to offer school spirit events for our student body. Even now, during this virtual school environment where West Orange is fully remote, Mr. DeJesus champions our Student Council members to plan and deliver school events and participation in local community service. His dedication to our students, his colleagues, and administration is unparalled. Mr. DeJesus is an inspiration to our staff and students."

 

DeJesus concluded by describing his reaction to the award.

 

“My actual reaction is that the attention makes me uncomfortable. But it's humbling to read all the nice things that people said about me and to know that they all have such high opinions of me. Anything that I do is only possible because I have the support of my team.  They do all of the real work. And the award truly belongs to Sue Zaccaro. I'm just trying to live up to her example and continue what she started when she founded our student council.”

 

NJASC DeJesus

Vince DeJesus

 

 

Cynthia Cumming
Jan. 27, 2021