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Devils celebrate Iselin counselor as Teacher of the Month

by Gordy Stillman / New Jersey Devils
Iselin Middle School conselor Gloria Libitz rides a zamboni at the New Jersey Devils' January 21 game against the Ottawa Senators. Libitz was recognized at the New Jersey Devils' Teacher of the Month for January 2016. Photo by Patrick Dodson

The New Jersey Devils hosted Iselin Middle School Counselor Gloria Libitz as the team’s January Teacher of the Month on January 21 as the team defeated the Calgary Flames at Prudential Center. Libitz was chosen for the honor for leading her school in implementing the NHL’s Hockey Scholar technology course, developed by Everfi.

Libitz said her mother, Giovannina, put an emphasis on education, inspiring her path in education. “As an Italian immigrant she did not have the same educational opportunities as her six children,” Libitz explained. In college, Libitz received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the College of St. Elizabeth, and after three years as a teacher, went for her master’s degree in order to become a counselor. “I always knew that I wanted to counsel students,” Libitz said, explaining that teaching was a prerequisite to become a counselor.

Libitz joined Iselin Middle School 14 years ago, and for the last five years has been the department lead for the guidance department. “It’s dealing with parents, conflicts, the anti-bullying specialist at the school as well,” Libitz explained. Libitz is tasked with investigating any possible instances of bullying at her school, providing staff training and running the schools standardized testing programs, among other responsibilities.

The Hockey Scholar program first reached Libitz by word of mouth, when another counselor in the district mentioned it to her. “I read through the information and I was very intrigued by it because STEM is very big and it‘s being pushed in our curriculum….In my school there is a teacher who actually runs a STEM course for seventh and eighth graders.” Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, also known as STEM, is a field of topics that has in recent years received attention, as educators aim to keep American students competitive in the global marketplace.

When Libitz learned the course was free, she got in contact with Everfi and brought the course to her school. At Iselin Middle School, all sixth and seventh grade students use the program in as part of their math class. “We had close to 400 kids enroll in it and they’ve either finished the hockey scholar program, or they are currently working on it in their science and math classes,” Libitz said.

“I’m so appreciative,” Libitz said of being honored for doing her job and admitted “It’s just something I do every day.” During the second intermission of the game, Libitz rode onto the ice atop one of the Devils’ Zambonis, a different experience compared to the first two Devils games she attended previously. “I was born and raised in New Jersey. I wouldn’t be rooting for anybody else.”

The Devils will recognize a New Jersey teacher on a monthly basis through the end of the 2015-16 season. For more information on the Hockey Scholar program, please visit Hockey Scholar and Future Goals, along with the team’s “Stick With It” reading incentive system, encompass the Devils’ Achievement in Academics initiative, which supports thousands of New Jersey students through hockey each year.

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