OCEAN CITY, NJ (October 2, 2017) –Amy T. Andersen, who works as an American Sign Language teacher at Ocean City High School, was named New Jersey’s 2017-18 Teacher of the Year. Andersen, selected from 21 county finalists, was revealed as the statewide winner at an October 3rd meeting of the New Jersey State Board of Education.
“Knowing that you are making an impact on the lives of students is extremely gratifying. It’s easily the best part about teaching,” Andersen said. “I feel honored to be recognized among a group of exceptional New Jersey educators, and extremely fortunate to be working with such a supportive administration.”
Ocean City is one of only a handful of districts in the state that offer American Sign Language (ASL) as a world language for hearing students. Approximately 130 students are now taking ASL, more than triple the size of the program when it first started 13 years ago. Students can earn a Seal of Biliteracy on their transcripts, denoting their fluency in sign language.
Andersen, of Cape May Court House, taught in Boston before moving back to Cape May County in 2004 and starting as a special-education teacher at Ocean City High School. That same year, the district started its ASL program with about 40 students. The next year, more than 130 students had signed up. Over the years, several students have decided to pursue careers in teaching the deaf.
“As superintendent, I can ask for nothing more than a teacher who inspires students to not only excel at the subject matter, but to look beyond their own experience and find ways to improve the world around them,” said Dr. Kathleen Taylor, Superintendent of the Ocean City School District. “Amy has created a place where students find inspiration, self-confidence, a nurturing environment and often, their future careers.”
The State Teacher of the Year serves as a spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession. As part of her award, Andersen will take a six-month paid sabbatical to serve as a liaison to the State Board of Education, travel the state, meet with teachers and discuss ways programs can be improved.
Amy T. Andersen will also go on to represent the State of New Jersey in the National Teacher of the Year competition, the winner of which will be announced in the spring.