Wieland announces Teacher, Educational Services Professional of the Year

On Dec. 4 and 6, Pascack Hills Principal Tim Wieland announced this year’s Teacher of the Year and Educational Services Professional of the Year. Corin Gamgort and Jennifer Zimmermann received these honors, respectively. Read more about their feelings about their feelings on these recognitions below. 
Wieland announces Teacher, Educational Services Professional of the Year
Corin Gamgort (center) receiving flowers with her students.
Corin Gamgort named Teacher of the Year

Corin Gamgort is the business education teacher at Pascack Hills. On Dec. 4, she was recognized as this year’s Teacher of the Year. 

Gamgort described the moment she was awarded this honor. 

“I was in my period 5 honors marketing class, and I started to tear up and cry because it really caught me off guard. It was very, very sweet. I was very honored to get the news,” she said. 

Gamgort has worked at Hills for 13 years. She teaches several different classes on the business spectrum, including Marketing, Financial Investments, Entrepreneurship, and Principles of Business. 

“We just keep expanding to meet the needs of our consumers, which are the students. All of the other high schools offer all these classes as well, so it makes sense to kind of expand that department,” she said. 

Gamgort majored in marketing with a minor in public relations at the University of Rhode Island. She received her MBA with a concentration in marketing from John Hopkins University and a second MBA through the University of Illinois.

She worked in corporate for 25 years before transitioning to a career in education. Gamgort was also a substitute teacher at Northern Highlands, where she gained experience in the business education department. 

When asked about her favorite parts of teaching, Gamgort immediately responded with two words: the students.

“I love having the side conversations with the kids. I love actually seeing them outside of the classroom and just bonding with them and being there for them in that way. That’s the best part,” she said. 

Outside of the classroom, Gamgort serves as the advisor for DECA, Investment Club, Class of 2025, and Yearbook Club. She is also the advisor for the Marketing Club, which is new to Hills this year. 

Several of Gamgort’s students shared their personal experiences having her as a teacher. 

“Ms. G is an amazing teacher, she does so much for all of her students. Despite having so much on her plate she truly cares about every one of her classes and clubs,” said senior Dylan Fitter, a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) for her Honors Marketing class. 

“Ms. Gamgort is an amazing teacher who always puts her students’ needs first. She’s always putting a smile on her students’ faces every day,” said junior Drew Varian.  

There were several individuals that Gamgort wanted to thank. This included her students, the administration team, secretarial staff, Principal Tim Wieland, Assistant Principals Derek Piccini and Christine Pollinger, Athletic Director Steven Papa, and Social Studies and Business Supervisor Joe Orlak. 

“On back-to-school night, I ended up going home. I wasn’t feeling well…and all of my teacher’s assistants…Dylan Fitter, Savanna [Bell], Sophia Ross, and Tiffany [Suponitskiy] rallied that night, along with Drew Varian, Diana Bodini,, and Leah Behar. Especially my supervisor, Joe Orlak. They took over my classroom for back-to-school night. They manned all the tables, took care of everything. I didn’t have to worry about a thing. That was very special, because it spoke volumes of the mutual respect we have for each other,” she said. 

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

“Do it if that’s what you really want to do. Keep in mind that the curriculum and the circumstances are going to change, and they are changing rapidly,” she said.

“I have a feeling that a lot of the younger generation are seeing what’s in the headlines and getting disgruntled and saying ‘Why would I want to do that?’ You have to go into it with your eyes wide open, that you will get through to those students. You do it because you want to make an impact, but keep an open mind because [you have] to be flexible,” she said. 

Corin Gamgort (center) receiving flowers with her students. (Pascack.org)
Jennifer Zimmermann (center) receiving flowers.
Jennifer Zimmermann named Educational Services Professional of the Year

Student Assistant Counselor Jennifer Zimmermann was awarded Educational Services Professional of the Year in honor of her contributions to Pascack Hills. 

Zimmermann found out that she was awarded Educational Service Professional of the Year on Wednesday, Dec. 6, after being out sick on Monday and Tuesday. Zimmermann described the events that took place leading up to the surprise with glee and laughter.

“[On Tuesday,] Mr. Wieland…sent me a text, and he said, ‘Hey JZ (Zimmerman’s initials and nickname), you know we miss you at Hills.’ I was like, that was so nice. Thanks for wondering how I am feeling… I got here early on Wednesday morning, and then the administration and Mr. Paul Zeller came in with a camera walking toward me, and I didn’t know what was going on. And then Mr. Wieland shared the news with me… It felt really good to be recognized for all the things that I’ve been trying to do for the past four years. So, I felt supported, and I felt seen,” she said.

Since beginning her career at Hills in July 2020, Zimmermann has made a large impact on the school in a short amount of time. Before counseling at Hills, she worked at Don Bosco Preparatory High School for two years.

Zimmermann described this as the beginning of her counseling career, for she worked in the mental health field as a clinical specialist in adolescent mental health and drug abuse for 13 years. 

“I had all these skills that I wanted to still use, and I thought that with all the experience that I had, I could use these skills on prevention efforts versus like knee deep in the trenches… I was like, well, what better way to use those skills than to go to high school? So that’s what I did…I always knew I wanted to end up in a school. I just didn’t know when that would be,” she said.

Before enriching Hills students’ educational careers, Zimmermann got her bachelor’s of social work at Rutgers University. At NYU, she earned a master’s degree in advanced clinical social practice and was able to get her master’s in a year because she got into the advanced standing program. Reflecting on her college career, she praised her alma mater.

“Rutgers really prepared me,” she said.

Considering that Zimmermann began working at Hills during Covid, she has helped many students through different circumstances, which attests to her dedication and acumen. Zimmermann elaborated on her time at Hills and how it has changed.

“This is my fourth year, and I feel finally, after four years, that I’m actually developing relationships with students. I’m seeing students just feeling happier as far as being together, and I’m seeing students asking for help… I think it was really difficult to start in education when I did because it was probably one of the hardest times in the history of education. Also, people were not really here, so I wasn’t able to get to know the students. And it took a while because, if you think about it from 2020 to 2023, going into 24 every year has been different,” she said. 

Zimmermann reflected on how to build positive relationships with students and contribute to their personal and academic growth. She emphasized the importance of engaging students in different ways, such as through support, safety, and positivity.  

“During Red Ribbon Week, we had some students from PH Cares get involved to hand out information… There is also this huge poster when you’re coming up the stairs with all the signatures. I had students getting each other to sign [the poster] to promote kindness, respect, and anti-drug behaviors. I think it’s more about engaging students so that they support each other and I think that those are the foundations to create a culture of safety,” she said.

In addition to her one-on-one student assistance outreach, Zimmermann sits as a coordinator for the Hills-Valley Coalition to enhance community outreach and educational programming for the district. With Zimmermann’s efforts, the district received funding from the coalition for Hills and Valley classrooms. 

“I really wanted to promote having both high schools really work together and also do a lot more student-led programming,” she said.

In terms of her interaction with students individually, Zimmermann likes to provide them with a safe and supportive environment in her office along with ensuring that any advice she may give revolves around the student’s wants and needs, and not just telling them what to do.  

“I think that in order to have students respect you, you have to respect them,” she said.

With a successful and impactful career, Zimmermann provided some final advice for future counselors.

“Be patient the first year. Sometimes the first couple of years could be hard. It could be like, ‘Am I doing this right?’ Go with your intuition…Share your ideas and don’t be afraid to use your voice,” she said.

Jennifer Zimmermann (center) receiving flowers. (Pascack.org)
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Kaitlyn Verde, Editor-in-Chief
Kaitlyn Verde is a senior at Hills. She joined the publication her freshman year as a staff writer and edited for the Arts & Entertainment and School News sections her sophomore and junior years, respectively. This year, Verde is excited to be the Trailblazer's Editor-in-Chief alongside Olivia Ge and report for the community with Hills Pride. Fun fact: Verde enjoys reading in her free time, and her favorite book is "The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue."
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Hills junior Paige Geanopulos is looking forward to being a part of the Trailblazer for another year. She joined the publication her freshman year as a staff writer and edited for the In-Depth section her sophomore year. This year, Geanopolus is excited to cover breaking news stories within the Hills community. Fun fact: Geanopulos loves the outdoors and hikes regularly.

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