CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. – Sixth-grade teacher Thea Unagast from School #3 in Cliffside Park has been named and will be awarded as a WDHA Teacher Who Rocks at a banquet Tuesday, April 5 at Casa Bianca in Oak Ridge.
The award, sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association and the U.S. Army, will honor 24 teachers in the state.
Unagast, who received her bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany and earned her master’s in elementary education at Hunter College, also has taught second and third grade in her 15 years in teaching.
Nominations are sent in by an administrator, a fellow teacher, parent of a student or a student.
“Ms. Thea Unagast has a unique ability to detect adolescents in distressed situations," according to her nomination letter. "She has a ‘sixth sense’ for picking up on the most minute details of students that exhibit stress factors and has used her innate ability to detect the most subtle hint and hidden outcries for help. Her ability has helped so many vulnerable students by identifying those in distress and getting them the services they require.
“Ms. Unagast constantly reaches out to parents, always trying to get them informed and involved. While she does what most teachers do, it is the quantity of attempts that is impressive. Every time that Ms. Unagast has a few seconds, whether it’s before, during, or after school, she is contacting parents. She is always on the phone talking to parents informing them about the good and the bad things that their children are doing. Mrs. Unagast sends emails, text messages, notes, test folders, and she meets with parents in conferences all the time. To her, it is important that parents get the positive, as well as the negative, and her efforts inspire her co-workers to do more.”
Casa Bianca is at 5266 Berkshire Valley Road, Oak Ridge.