Marissa Watters named Educational Services Professional of the Year

Two words that Watters used to describe how she felt when she found out that she was awarded with his honor are “surprised” and “proud.” 


@PVRHSD via Twitter

From left to right: Pascack Hills assistant principals Christine Pollinger and Derek Piccini, Watters, Hills principal Tim Wieland, and district Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Barry Bachenheimer.

Briana Keenan, Editor-in-Chief

Marissa Watters is a Learning Disabilities Teaching Consultant (LDTC) at Pascack Hills. This year, she was recognized as the school’s Educational Services Professional of the Year. 

Two words that Watters used to describe how she felt when she found out that she was awarded with his honor are “surprised” and “proud.” 

“I had no idea that it was coming…Mrs. Punim called my husband; I live locally, so he made it here, too. Mr. Wieland walked in [to my office] and called for one of my coworkers…as soon as I saw my husband walk in, I realized what was happening,” she said. 

Watters has been working in the district for seven years. Prior to working at Hills, she worked for another district for eight years. She also taught as a special education teacher in a middle school for four years. 

“When I made the transition here, I knew that I found another home,” she said, “It’s an honor to work here and work with the students that are here.” 

Watters knew since she was young that she wanted to be a teacher, so deciding to pursue a career in education was a decision made years ago.

“I babysat, I taught swim lessons, [and] I was a lifeguard. I’ve always loved children, being around students, and helping people,” she said. 

Her schedule at Hills differs day to day. Watters works with both students and teachers in her position and specifically finds working hands-on to be “rewarding.” Sometimes, she works in classroom settings, but she often helps students in her office on assignments, organization, or allowing them to take a test there so they have a quiet space. 

“I can help students to figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are and how they learn best, and then I can help teachers troubleshoot if they have difficulty reaching their students,” she said. 

The students that Watters work with know her for all four years of high school. She said that this is her most notable experience of working in this position at Hills.

“Being able to stay in close contact with them throughout all four years and seeing the growth, maturity, and progress that they make is something that is really special,” she said.  

Eva Merk, the district’s Director of Special Services, spoke about the work Watters has done at Hills. 

“[Watters] works tirelessly to assist her students and their families…[she] collaborates extensively and effectively with students, building administration & staff, and community resources to ensure student success,” she said. 

The Educational Services Professional of the Year ended with advice for those looking to pursue a career in education.

“You have to keep an open mind because you can’t anticipate what’s going to happen. There are always a lot of surprises that come up…if you get experience…I think that will help you to pull from your toolbox as you go into this position,” she said.