Clark Schools Honor Teachers Of The Year

CLARK – Clark Public Schools has recognized a teacher at each of the township’s four public schools and named Valley Road School teacher Paula Spence as the district’s Teacher of the Year. Spence will be eligible to be named Union County Teacher of the Year and could be considered for the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year award.

Spence completed her bachelor’s degree from Kean University and has 12 years of teaching experience.  She is known as a “hands-on” teacher who not only plans structured, meaningful lessons, but also capitalizes on the “teachable moments” that often arise in the classroom.


Spence has served on multiple district and school committees, been a PTA teacher representative, and frequently returns to school in the evening to assist with chaperoning school activities.  Outside of school, Spence dedicates her time to community activities like volunteering at a local animal shelter, participating in reservoir clean-ups and Relays for Life, and volunteering her time at the public library to tutor at-risk students in reading and writing over the summer months.

The 2011 Arthur L. Johnson School Teacher of the Year is Italian teacher, Joanne Ranahan. Ranahan graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College and has seven years teaching experience at ALJ. She promotes “Crusader Pride,” at ALJ as the advisor of the Student Council, the Italian Club, and the Italian Honor Society. Ranahan presents workshops each year as part of the district’s New Teacher Induction Program.  She has written curriculum, hosted student teachers, mentored new teachers, and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree at Monmouth University.

Representing Carl H. Kumpf School as their 2011 School Teacher of the Year is Math teacher, Elaine Zemekis. Zemekis graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Felician College and 38 years of teaching experience in the district. Zemekis is often called a “go-to” teacher by her colleagues, and the “glue” of the sixth grade team.  She serves as the Math Club advisor, serves on the Crisis Team, and is a contributing member of Kumpf’s Faculty Council.

The 2011 Frank K. Hehnly School Teacher of the Year is first grade teacher Mary Arrowood. Arrowood earned her bachelor’s degree from Kean College and has worked in various capacities in the district since 1985, and she has been a teacher for the past 21 years. Arrowood was the Student Council Advisor for many years.  She currently serves on the Crisis Response Team and is active in the Hehnly PTA where she is one of the teacher representatives.  She is also an invaluable resource for the school’s I&RS team.

In the photograph above, Clark’s Teachers of the Year pose for a group photograph with district administrators.   Pictured from left to right, top row:  Arthur L. Johnson High School Assistant Principal David Oliveira, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Vincent Caputo, and Valley Road School Principal Joseph Beltrama.  Bottom Row: Teachers of the Year Joanne Ranahan, Elaine Zemekis, Paula Spence, and Mary Arrowood. (Photo courtesy of Clark Public Schools)

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