LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Laura Durso

Position: History Teacher
School: Hackensack High School
School District: Hackensack Public Schools
City, State: Hackensack, NJ

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Laura Durso was nominated by her husband, Sean Hillegass.

Ms. Durso is the perfect example of an individual who constantly seeks to change the lives of her students. She has worked in the inner city her entire teaching career because she feels it is the place where she has the greatest opportunity to do the most good. She pours herself into her education and connects with students on an emotional level. Ms. Durso helps them as much as she can. She's not only committed to their educational advancement, but to helping them through the difficulties of their environment.

Ms. Durso takes time out of her normal teaching duties to dedicate herself to her students outside of the classroom. She has helped start a Model UN club, has volunteered to lead the Academic Decathalon team, and is the co-advisor for the student council. She has also coached basketball, track and field, and cross country throughout her career.



Comments (56)


John Gahuancela Posted 24 days ago

Ms. Durso is basically the best teacher I've had. She is kind, caring, and most of all she goes beyond her expectations to help students that are struggling. I remember I was in her CP world history class, and I loved the way she taught and communicated with the class from the start. I remember I would struggle with achieve the right grades sometimes, but she helped me through it. What admired me most is that she saw potential in me, and she gave me the opportunity to join the Academic Decathlon. I was scared at first to join because my thoughts were, "I'm not smart as them, I cannot compete with them." However, Ms. Durso changed that and she helped me believe that I can work hard to achieve a higher potential. I ended up receiving a gold medal for the music portion, and helping my team score points for the quiz bowl. It was a great moment, and I will never forget it. She gave me the right work ethic, and because of that I was able to get in one of the world's best music schools. She truly deserves this award, as anyone who has her as a teacher, will never regret it.

John Gahuancela Posted 25 days ago

Ms. Durso is basically the best teacher I've had. She is kind, caring, and most of all she goes beyond her expectations to help students that are struggling. I remember I was in her CP world history class, and I loved the way she taught and communicated with the class from the start. I remember I would struggle with achieve the right grades sometimes, but she helped me through it. What admired me most is that she saw potential in me, and she gave me the opportunity to join the Academic Decathlon. I was scared at first to join because my thoughts were, "I'm not smart as them, I cannot compete with them." However, Ms. Durso changed that and she helped me believe that I can work hard to achieve a higher potential. I ended up receiving a gold medal for the music portion, and helping my team score points for the quiz bowl. It was a great moment, and I will never forget it. She gave me the right work ethic, and because of that I was able to get in one of the world's best music schools. She truly deserves this award, as anyone who has her as a teacher, will never regret it.

Ryan Soule Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege of working with Ms. Durso as her sign language interpreter when a group of Deaf students was placed in her class. This can often be a new and daunting experience for teachers however Ms. Durso welcomed them (and me) into her class wholeheartedly. Ms. Durso’s talent for working with students from diverse backgrounds is obvious. The passion she brings to her classroom everyday is refreshing and an inspiration to her students and colleagues. We should all be lucky enough to have a teacher like Laura Durso at some point. She is so deserving of this award.

Kelsey Hillegass Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso is the kind of teacher I would have looked up to while I was in high school. She treats her classroom and beyond as a safe place for her students to express themselves and develop their own identity in a comfortable, inspiring environment. By the way she talks about her students it is evident how dedicated she is to bettering the lives of each and every kid that crosses her path. From the classroom to the field/court, she goes above and beyond for each and every student. She has a magical way of incorporating her passion for learning and importance of extracurricular activities and leaving such a lasting impression on them for many years after! Laura is truly an inspiration and every student that gets the chance to learn from her is very lucky! There is not anyone more deserving of the LifeChanger award than Laura!

Alayne Picinic Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso goes above and beyond her responsibilities as a teacher. She truly cares about her students and it shows by her willingness to come in early, stay late, and her involvement in sports and clubs. Her role as a mentor never ends even after hours. What also stands out is her ability to make history so interesting. She leaves you wanting to learn more, and that is a special skill. Her school system is very lucky to have her as a teacher.

Jane Spielberger Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso is a credit to our profession and should be put forth as a shining example of a master teacher with heart. Ms. Durso gives her all to everything she does whether it comes to teaching and being there for her students or colleagues. She is always ready with a smile to lend a helping hand to better the lives of her students and peers. She is one of my "go to" people and I see her as an unofficial mentor.

Adriana Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso has been someone I have looked up to ever since I was a young girl. I did not idolize her simply because she was my older sister, but because she represented many qualities that I wanted to achieve within myself. As a person, sister, and friend, she has been there for me every step of the way including, and especially, when I was trying to figure out my own career path. Being amongst the youngest in my entire family, there were many different people I was able to turn to when seeking advice for my future. But there was something in the way my sister spoke of her career as a teacher that piqued my interest. From her, I did not receive the "typical teacher answer" of summers off as to why she loved her job so much. But instead, I received countless stories and memories of her interactions with her students. And with each story, her passion for teaching became more evident. It was clear to me in that moment, that my sister was doing something to change lives everyday, and I wanted some for myself! As I sit here writing this comment, I am within my third year of teaching and I could not be happier with my choice. I owe my happiness in my career to my sister and the work ethic that she sets forth every day. I learned through her example and I can only hope to be half the person and teacher that she is one day!

Khayla Dixon Posted over a year ago

I had the opportunity to have Ms. Durso as my AP world teacher in my junior year. Her passion permeates through everything that she does. I frequently tell underclassmen that have not had the chance to be taught by her to do everything that they can to take one of her classes. Her love for history has inspired me to seek a career in what I love. She is always recognized not only by students that have had her, but students that have heard the praise by her students, as a teacher that cares not only about successfully teaching the course work, but also about ensuring that students understand, appreciate, and recognize the importance, of history. Her kind heart and compassion are evident in the care and concern she places in the academic and personal life of her students. Taking her class made me aware of the compassion some teachers hold, the importance of a strong and consistent work ethic, and pursuing a career that you love. I am so grateful that I got to have her as a teacher!

Matthew Mai Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso is an awesome teacher! She helped prepare me for the AP World Exam and I couldn't have gotten the score I achieved without her! It was incredible to see how much time she puts in for the students. She would hold essay workshops for the AP style essays we were to encounter on the exam before and after school, multiple times a week. In the weeks leading up to the AP exam, she printed out packets of information and sample questions that we would use during after school study groups twice a week. It was vital to our success on the exam. This is why our school performs above average on the AP World History Exam! Our teacher is willing to put in the time with her students to make them great achievers!

Mark Vesce Posted over a year ago

I have the pleasure of sharing a room with Mrs. Durso. She is the hardest working educator I have ever seen, she's there so early she lets the custodians in and leaves so late they have to kick her out. Her passion and dedication to her craft not only makes her an impactful teacher but influences those around her to work harder. Whether it's running her award-winning Academic Decathelon team at 7am or solving the worlds problems at 5PM with her Model UN students she exemplifies what it means to be a true teacher. With everything stated above and the way students engage with her before, during, and after-school it has shown me (without question!) she deserves this award.

Kaylee Landrigan Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso was my junior year AP World History teacher, a mentor in the Model United Nations Club and my Academic Decathlon teacher my senior year of high school. With each task she tackles, she shows extreme initiative and strives for perfection in both herself and her students. Yet, despite these pertionist ideals, she brings a positive attitude to the classroom, and it reflects upon her students, by them also picking up these perfectionist ways. She has caused a personal growth in her students, a growth in myself. Because of Ms. Durso's teaching I have learned how to become a better student for college, and how to expect the absolute best from my own self. If it wasn't for me sitting in Ms. Durso's classroom on the first day of my junior year, I would not be half the student I am now. She truly does deserve this award because of her passion, a passion that is noticeable by the way she teaches and speaks, with a smile on her face and with her love for teaching on her sleeve.

caroline Posted over a year ago

THE best teacher I’ve ever had. Ms. Durso genuinely changed my life for the better as she taught me more life lessons and real-world problem solving. She is actually my school mom and is the one person I’d go to for help if I had a problem in school. Not to mention, she taught the single handed hardest class Ive ever taken. Overall, Ms. Durso is the best teacher ever!

Nancy Nicolardi Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso is en exemplary educator. Her passion for her craft is evident; whenever she discusses her career, she lights up. Not only does Ms. Durso spend hours developing creative and educational lesson plans that address the needs of all learners, but she also dedicates her time to her students outside the classroom. Ms. Durso has coached track for several years and has led the Model UN. Because she constantly challenges herself, this year she has taken on the additional role of Academic Decathlon advisor. As a fellow educator. I look to Ms. Durso for inspiration and advice. Ms. Durso is truly deserving of this award and I whole-heartedly recommend her to you.

Jordan Woodford Posted over a year ago

Wanting to be there for everyone in her life , from friends to students and athletes to colleagues, Laura Durso is a tremendously caring individual. Laura makes it a point to connect with everyone she encounters, whether it be in the classroom, on the track, or at home with family. Taking the time to foster strong bonds and establish a good rapport with students allows her to be successful in the classroom teaching environment, but Laura does not stop there. Laura continues to share her passion of running with aspiring runners who compete in cross country and track and field at the high school level. Growing up with Laura was a tremendous gift and honor and I would not be who I am or where I am today without her. Laura is truly the best friend, coach, and teacher anyone could ever cross paths with.

Alli Uhl Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso is an amazing person all around, inside and out. For the last 2 years she has been my cross country coach, she has been nothing less than a strong supporter of everything myself and the team has done on and off the course. Her passion for the sport and my team is evident in how she coaches, and the confidence she brings to each and every one of us is certainly something we'd be lacking had our coach been someone else. It is true that without her, I would not be the same runner or person I am today due to her advice and heart-to-heart compassion that make you recognize the big picture when there comes is a small bump in the road. It is obvious that on top of coaching, teaching is also one of her top priorities. Listening to the stories she tells really shows how devoted she is to her students and how important it is that they succeed in not only the classroom but in their outside lives and at home as well. Her bubbly, genuine, and sweet personality is something that truly makes life a little more enjoyable for everyone that crosses her path.

Stefania Woolley Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso is truly a unique educator. In today’s society where most people try to get by doing the bare minimum, Laura constantly goes the extra mile. She’s a coach, team leader, highly involved with extra curricular activities and a teacher her students can come to at anytime for aid. Her ability to teach both AP and ESL shows her diversity and skill to adapt to any situation necessary to provide her students with the best learning environment possible. She’s truly passionate about her job, but also passionate about her life. She’s energetic and enthusiastic and brings the best out of everyone around her, students, peers and family just by being herself.

Cara Mastrangelo Posted over a year ago

Coach Durso was my cross-country coach when I was in high school and has made a lasting impact on me as a person. She taught me not be so hard on myself and to always believe in my abilities. Coach Durso’s positive energy and kind spirit helped lift myself and my teammates to achieve our goals. Coach Durso always believed in me and got to know me as an individual. I am truly lucky to have had a coach like her that cares so much about her athletes. She has inspired and helped me to become a more positive and happy person. I am extremely grateful to have gotten to know her and be one of her athletes. She has certainly changed my life as well as countless others for the better and is more than deserving of this honor.

Amanda Durso Posted over a year ago

My name is Amanda Durso. I am a 24 year old Spanish teacher, and I am also Laura's youngest cousin. All of my life, I remember looking up to Laura as a positive role model. Whether it was excelling in school or on the sports fields, Laura has always been someone who I've aspired to be like. She was an outstanding student and athlete during her high school and college years, and today is one of the best teachers that I know. When I begun college, I was unsure as to what I wanted to major in. I've always had a passion for the Spanish language and also love working with children, so I knew that teaching could be something that would make me really happy. Once I settled on an education major, Laura again became the person that I was able to turn to whenever I needed advice. I graduated from Loyola University Maryland in 2015, and immediately accepted a teaching position in the Baltimore area. As a 22 year old first year teacher working with a large population of underprivileged students, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. Laura's teaching career to date has included working in the Patterson Public School District, so she was able to lend me much advice about working with underserved students. When I decided to make the difficult decision to return home to New Jersey last year, it was again Laura who would answer all of my texts and phone calls when I had questions about the certification process, interviews, and even when I was simply feeling overwhelmed and needed an encouraging ear to talk to. Deciding to move back to New Jersey to be closer to my family should have been an easy decision for me, but in reality it was one of the hardest choices that I ever made. I loved the school that I worked at and all of my students, and I felt like I was really starting to make a difference there. Laura would assure me that I would be a great teacher no matter where I was, and that I would always have the opportunity to impact my students in a positive way. This year I am working in the Bridgewater-Raritan School District in NJ, and while it hasn't been a perfectly easy transition, I know that Laura will always be someone that I can go to whenever I need advice. I so admire all that she has accomplished so far in her teaching career, and I know that she will continue to impact the lives of so many more students and teachers that she meets as the years go on. I may seem biased as her cousin, but in my eyes there is truly no one more deserving of this award. Laura is not only an exceptional teacher, but she is a positive role model to students and peers alike, who inspires through her actions! I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for her influence and motivation in my life, and I hope that many more people will get the chance to work with her, and feel like immediate impact that she has on others!

Jordan Woodford Posted over a year ago

Wanting to be there for everyone in her life , from friends to students and athletes to colleagues, Laura Durso is a tremendously caring individual. Laura makes it a point to connect with everyone she encounters, whether it be in the classroom, on the track, or at home with family. Taking the time to foster strong bonds and establish a good rapport with students allows her to be successful in the classroom teaching environment, but Laura does not stop there. Laura continues to share her passion of running with aspiring runners who compete in cross country and track and field at the high school level. Growing up with Laura was a tremendous gift and honor and I would not be who I am or where I am today without her. Laura is truly the best friend, coach, and teacher anyone could ever cross paths with.

Sophia Castronovo Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso is my current cross country coach and I am privileged enough to experience this for multiple years. She is one of the most selfless people I have ever met, beautiful inside and out with a huge heart and amazing character. She is dedicated and encouraging to everyone around her making them want to be the best they can be. As a coach she is inspirational and genuinely cares about everyone around her. Ms. Dursos ability to believe in our team helped us become very successful these past years. She is always supportive and when we don't do as well as we could she is always there to pick us back up. With her help we became back to back league champions and she was there every step of the way. She pushes us to help us reach our potential and is not only there for us as a coach, she takes the time to get to know us on a personal level and is there for us with anything. She is a very busy person but makes times for everyone, always putting others before herself. She'll stay after practice even though she has been busy all day, just to talk to make sure everything is okay. Coach Durso has inspired me to be the best I can be and I am forever thankful to meet someone with the ability to change the lives around her.

Jim Montesano Posted over a year ago

Since the day she set foot on the Hackensack High School campus, Laura's influence has been widespread and felt by students, parents, fellow teachers and administrators. Laura is a wonderful addition to our HHS family as she has created our Model UN competition team, enhanced our AP World History course and worked with our ELL students to ensure that they are successful in their transition to mainstream classes among her many other initiatives. Her caring and life changing influence can be felt across a multitude of areas. As the Principal of the High School, I could not think of a better nominee for this honor. Laura is extremely worthy of this honor and I recommend her wholeheartedly.

Yusef Froogh Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso was truly the most inspirational teacher of my whole educational career. She assisted me with all my papers and helped me advance to the collegiate level. I could not thank her enough for the amount of effort Ms. Durso has put in to help my past classmates and I achieve everything that we have done. I used to always go after school for a little extra help with my essays and papers as well as some troubles throughout the school day that had bothered me. Ms. Durso would always take away her personal time to help her students abundantly. She is by far the best nominee for this award.

Julia Moran Posted over a year ago

I have not known Mrs. Durso for long, but as it being my first cross country season, she has been a whole new level of support I didn't know I needed as a coach. After a vital race in Mahwah, I was very down on myself because I felt as if I didn't preform as well as I needed. Seeing I was tearing up, she gave me a detailed and encouraging talk about how even though we did not win, I still ran very well and should be proud of myself. It was not my fault and I should take it to fuel myself next race. That was an undetailed version of her message, but it really put things into perspective for me. She pushes me and the rest of the cross country team to try our hardest! Just the encouragement we need. The cross country season wouldn't be as connected without her guidance and love.

Joseph Neu Posted over a year ago

Taking Ms. Durso's AP World History class has changed my life. She was extremely active in my class and made each topic interesting. Although I've only had her for one year, I've found her to be very approachable and easy to talk to. Not only was she a great teacher, but she was also a great motivator outside of her classes. She puts 100% dedication into everything she does. During my junior year of high school, I wasn't too great at writing essays. However, she let all of her classes come after school and have a "writing center", where she would help us improve our writing and make sure we covered all of what we needed. During those times, I improved remarkably and started to get better grades on each essay. I can never forget the time she devoted to help students like me who were struggling and for that, I am forever thankful. She has definitely changed my life and I do not believe there is a better person who is more deserving of this award.

Lindy Duncan Posted over a year ago

I took Ms. Durso's class my junior year of high school. Her class was by far my favorite class I have ever taken. Not only did she take time out of her life to help her students prepare for the AP exam by hosting information sessions twice a week in the months leading up to the exam. She also held information sessions before and after school for papers to help her students understand the rubric that would be used to grade, like the AP exam. She makes the learning fun with her creative group assignments while also having vigorous essay prompts. Also, as the former Vice President of the Model UN club, I can say that she worked vigorously to prepare her members for conferences and our monthly roundtables in school. The Model UN club was such a positive asset to my senior year. Ms. Durso takes a huge interest in the well being of her students both in and out of school. Many teachers do not care as much as she does and does not have a lasting impact on their students. I can assure that Ms. Durso is deserving of this award as I still think about her impact on my life and still want to visit after not being in her class in over two years.

Julia Drennan Posted over a year ago

Coach Durso is someone who truly inspires me everyday. I am a senior in high school and she has been coaching me since I joined cross country in sophomore year. Coach D loves teaching at her current school, and how much she cares about both her students and the athletes she coaches is quite obvious. She takes an innumerable amount of time out of her already insanely packed schedule to drive half an hour to our 3 hour practices after being at school for 8 hours. She takes the time to talk to each one of us individually about not only cross country, but our personal lives. I know that I can go to her with anything, and often she will stay after practice to talk to me, even though she hasn’t been home in over 12 hours. She comes to practice as often as she can, and always feels unnecessarily guilty when she cannot, but we all appreciate any amount of time she spends with us. Aside from being an exemplary coach and advice-giver, she has inspired me to start my own Model United Nations club at my school. Hearing her talk about the things her club does made me want to start one of my own. Although I have never been one for public speaking, she encouraged me to push my boundaries. Meeting Coach D has changed me for the better, and I will be forever grateful to her for making me a better person. What I will miss most about high school is being able to see her almost everyday.

Julia Moran Posted over a year ago

I have not known Mrs. Durso for long, but as it being my first cross country season, she has been a whole new level of support I didn't know I needed as a coach. After a vital race in Mahwah, I was very down on myself because I felt as if I didn't preform as well as I needed. Seeing I was tearing up, she gave me a detailed and encouraging talk about how even though we did not win, I still ran very well and should be proud of myself. It was not my fault and I should take it to fuel myself next race. That was an undetailed version of her message, but it really put things into perspective for me. She pushes me and the rest of the cross country team to try our hardest! Just the encouragement we need. The cross country season wouldn't be as connected without her guidance and love.

Stephanie Baumann Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso has made a huge impact on my life and it all started as my winter track coach in high school. Not only did she push me to be a better athlete but also to be a better person. She always made me feel like I could achieve any dream possible. Her kind spirit, genuine personality, and selflessness makes her the best choice for life changer of the year. I’m glad we stayed in touch after high school and became close family friends. I love you Laura!

Rachel Durso Posted over a year ago

As Laura's cousin, we were very close growing up and shared the same 'nerdy' interests in things like history and literature. Laura has always shown a great love of history, one that she successfully endeavors to impart to her students. Growing up together, we would take weekend classes at the Museum of Natural History in NYC to broaden our outlook on the world and learn about our past. As we've grown up, Laura has consistently continued to demonstrate an interest in learning, especially with regard to history. As I was a classics major, she would ask me about ancient Rome and Greece. This was not because she needed to know for any particular reason, but because she was curious. Curiosity about the world around us and where we came from has always been an important part of Laura's life. Laura also goes above and beyond for her classes. She devotes an exorbitant amount of time to creating lesson plans that her students will enjoy. When a subject is not crystal clear, Laura will do research, even extensive research, if necessary in order to provide her class with the best information in the clearest way. For example, when Laura was teaching the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, she borrowed my constitutional law textbook (a very dense law school textbook complete with court opinions for various cases) and waded through a good 60 pages of material to make sure she understood every single aspect of the amendment and related cases so she could impart to her students a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Laura has also borrowed books with primary sources from antiquity when teaching about ancient Rome. Laura's love of knowledge is very important to her, but it is even more important to her that she share this with her students. She is extremely invested in each and every student's education as well as their well-being in general. I cannot think of anyone more fit to be a high school teacher, let alone someone more deserving of this award.

Patricia Lozano Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso is a master teacher and an invaluable member of our Hackensack High School community. I was her immediate supervisor for 3 years and am now her assistant principal. During the time that I have worked with her, her passion, dedication and drive has had a tremendously positive impact on our students and staff. As a Model UN and Student Government club advisor, an AP World History, Academic Decathlon and ELL world history teacher, and as a basketball, track and field, and cross country coach, she has touched and changed the lives of a tremendously diverse variety of students for the better. I am honored to work with someone as selfless and committed to student achievement both inside and outside the classroom as Laura. She is a "Lifechanger" and extremely worthy of this award.

Alyssa Rome Posted over a year ago

Laura is the one and only person I have and ever will consider my best friend, since birth. To know Laura is truly a gift. She is an amazing person, inside and out. She has so much passion for everything and anything she takes on. I work with people from all different professions every single day and honestly I have never heard someone talk about their profession with such love and passion like she does! She has changed my life just by being the amazing person she is and she 100% deserves this award!

Patricia Lozano Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso is a master teacher and an invaluable member of our Hackensack High School community. I was her immediate supervisor for 3 years and am now her assistant principal. During the time that I have worked with her, her passion, dedication and drive has had a tremendously positive impact on our students and staff. As a Model UN and Student Government club advisor, an AP World History, Academic Decathlon and ELL world history teacher, and as a basketball, track and field, and cross country coach, she has touched and changed the lives of a tremendously diverse variety of students for the better. I am honored to work with someone as selfless and committed to student achievement both inside and outside the classroom as Laura. She is a "Lifechanger" and extremely worthy of this award.

Patricia Lozano Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso is a master teacher and an invaluable member of our Hackensack High School community. I was her immediate supervisor for 3 years and am now her assistant principal. During the time that I have worked with her, her passion, dedication and drive has had a tremendously positive impact on our students and staff. As a Model UN and Student Government club advisor, an AP World History, Academic Decathlon and ELL world history teacher, and as a basketball, track and field, and cross country coach, she has touched and changed the lives of a tremendously diverse variety of students for the better. I am honored to work with someone as selfless and committed to student achievement both inside and outside the classroom as Laura. She is a "Lifechanger" and extremely worthy of this award.

Jovan Germinario Posted over a year ago

Ms Durso and I are going into our 8th year teaching together. We met at Eastside HS in Paterson and had an instant connection and friendship. We shared similar views on teaching and making connections with our students, but I've always admired the amount of thought and creativity that she puts into every lesson. She showed up every day with a smile and a positive attitude! She not only pours herself into the classroom, but into all of the extra curricular activities as well. She truly cares about the school as a whole and is always willing to help her colleagues. She is very deserving of this reward!

Nikki Gingrich Posted over a year ago

To see a teacher who cares about her students and their well-being is rare to find, and that is exactly what Ms. Durso does every day. She is an inspiration in and out of the classroom. She makes education fun so her students are eager to learn!

Miranda Jurgensen Posted over a year ago

Laura is the most sincerely motivated and committed teachers I have ever had the pleasure in working with. We became fast friends as well as colleagues when we both started at Eastside High school together. Laura’s dedication to her students is infectious and admirable. She always goes above and beyond for them and her planning amazing lessons is invigorating. Students love her class and her as a teacher because they know she cares and respects who they are as individuals. Not only is she an amazing teacher but she helped me in my personal life on a level most don’t know. She always supported me and believed in me, never giving up hope that I can pull through a very abusive relationship and knowing what she did for me is an exemplary fraction of dedication and her huge heart she gives to her students.

Danielle Danyluk Posted over a year ago

I had Ms. Durso as a student teacher my senior year of High School. That is a tough age group to stand in front of as a student teacher. You can't come off too strong but definitely not weak. Ms. Durso was just herself instead, she would talk about Boy Meets World and other interests to connect with us as to who she was. She gains respect by leveling up with her students. She is a genuine person and wonderful teacher who cares about her work.

Alice Pinto Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso has definitely changed my life for the better. She has a stunning amount of compassion and grace. I know she uses it everyday to help connect with her children on a level other teachers often aren’t able to do. I believe she is the perfect recipient for this award.

Hope Ortiz Posted over a year ago

I took Ms. Durso's AP World history class my junior year of high school and it was my absolute favorite! Everyday I looked forward to her class, not only because it was enjoyable and interesting, but she made her classroom environment very comfortable and welcoming! Ms. Durso is an educator who very dedicated and cares for her students like they are her own. She makes her teaching student centered, she always makes her students feel equal, and strives to assist each of them. I've had many teachers and only a few who made a lasting impact and Ms. Durso is one of them. :-)

Mackenzie Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso was the most dedicated teacher I have ever had. In preparation for the AP exam she would host AP review sessions 2 times per week for about an hour each session, sometimes extending longer depending on the section we were working on. She also truly cares about the education of her students, making learning fun through various original projects and activities. I remember being excited to come home and work on certain projects because they were both parts challenging and informative. She also connects with students on an emotional level and supports their personal lives. While I was in her class, I scored really well in a track meet and she knew about it before I even had the chance to tell her. Ms. Durso truly cares about the betterment of her students both in and out of the classroom.

Michelle N. Hammond-Dudley Posted over a year ago

She is GOLDEN. She is very inspiring and tries to encourage the students to be the best or do your personal best. She goes above and beyond.

Maria Monsalve Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso is such a genuine person with a huge heart and great character. Having her as a teacher was beyond a great experience. Not only did I learn a lot but I felt accepted and motivated by her. She has great positive energy and always motivates her students and provides them with help beyond academics. She always made us laugh and even when the workload was big, she made it feel a bit easier. She works so hard and is so dedicated and passionate about what she does

Sadia Rahim Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso embodies what it means to be a life changer through her dedication to her students and her ability to be an empathetic and passionate teacher. Her belief in her students abilities to achieve greatness and work to their greatest potential resonates throughout the year in her classroom. As someone who had the privilege of being taught by an impeccably dedicated individual, I am lucky enough to have experienced her compassion even after I have left the class. Whether it's during the school year or every day after the time in her class has come to an end, Ms.Dursos genuine desire for teaching and helping students is always remembered. As a teacher and a person, Ms. Durso is a motivated, hard working, compassionate, and dedicated life changer. Personally, years from now when I look back at my high school experience, I will always remember Ms. Durso with fondness, and as the individual that had the most impact in my life as a teacher,mentor, and friend. Thank you Ms. Durso for being a leader and a life changer!

Sandra Harrington Posted over a year ago

Teaching for Laura Durso is a calling and her passion. She is beloved by her students and respected by her peers. She is an example of the finest our profession and school district has to offer.

Lauren Abrams Posted over a year ago

There wouldnt be a single person who would fill this spot better than Ms. Durso. She has pushed me all theoughout high school, even when she wasnt my direct teacher. She is one of the few teachers I have had that I, literally, stive to be like. She changes the life of anyone who comes in her path and has made my high school experience, the best 4 years of my life.

Juline Moreland Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She truly cares about the well being of each and every student shes ever taught. Laura works extremely hard not only in the classroom, but with extracurriculars as well to ensure that her students learn and enjoy learning. Her passion is genuine and contagious, and she goes above and beyond to help her students in all aspects of their lives. Laura Durso has an amazing and life changing affect on everyone that is fortunate enough to know her.

Mike Bingeman Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso and I did our student teaching together in 2008, and it was evident to me then that her heart belongs in the classroom. We often shared stories of our successes and "learning opportunities" as we each cut our teeth in the world of secondary education. Even in the hardest parts, Ms. Durso was able to learn, adapt, and get back at it. Not so that she could chase greatness (although she was certainly a standout among our peers), but so that she could become more adept to change the lives of her current and future students.

Katie Morrone Posted over a year ago

Laura is one of the most dedicated, creative, loving, and fantastic teachers I have ever worked with. Her love for her students is contagious and I am so incredibly lucky to be able to share the hallways with her.

Shanelle Rodriguez Posted over a year ago

I'm not a former student of Ms. Durso, but I was back in highschool. She was my history teacher. I can't thank enough I got transferred into her class which made me more eager to attend. She was an amazing teacher and also a person you can talk to outside. She really is a life changer that all kids love her and respect her. She changed my life and still remains in it no matter the distance and I'm jealous of the students she has now because I wish she was still my teacher. Ms. Durso deserves this award, thank you for setting a great example in our lives!

Noorhan Sallam Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso is easily one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I rarely encountered teachers who were as dedicated to their students success inside and outside of the classroom the way she is. Aside from being an incredible history teacher who made learning about world history enjoyable, she is also one of the most genuine people I have ever had the please of knowing. Here I am, a sophomore in college now and still have the gift she gave us hanging on my dorm room wall. I would not have traded my experience in her class for anything.

Jessica Ventura Posted over a year ago

I had Ms. Durso my junior year of high school and I could easily say she is one of the best teachers in the Hackensack School District. Not only did Ms. Durso teach AP World History to my fellow peers and I but she also taught life lessons that I have carried and will carry throughout college and post college life. Just like all teachers, Ms. Durso wants her students to succeed, however, Ms. Durso is slightly different for the rest of the teachers. She dedicates more than enough time working on her lesson plans and makes sure her students truly have an understanding of the lesson. She does both before and after school work shops for essays which in my opinion are extremely difficult, but, with her help she makes writing them easier. I don't see Ms. Durso just as a teacher but a friend and mentor as well. During my senior year of high school I was stressed out due to college applications, scholarships, and drama within my friend group. I went to Ms. Durso for advice and she gladly sat down with me and gave me some words of wisdom. It is so easy to talk to her because she always has a positive attitude even though life can be hard and has bumps along the way. Ms. Durso does not get enough credit for what she does inside and outside of the classroom. I strongly believe Ms. Durso deserves the LifeChanger of the Year award because nobody deserves it more than her. Thank you.

Gillian Phillips Posted over a year ago

Ms. Durso was/is such an inspiration to me. Her class was not only a place of learning, but one of understanding,tolerance, and acceptance. Ms. Durso very clearly cares for each and everyone of her students. She would make time to assure that her pupils would understand the rigorous material being taught. Ms. Durso is one of my all time favorite students, even after almost 4 years after her class. She inspired me to do the best that I can and made me feel like a valued person.

Theresa Murphy Posted over a year ago

Laura Durso is a rare teacher that you're only lucky enough to come across once or twice in a lifetime. She IMMEDIATELY makes connections with her students, making them feel comfortable and respected in her classroom. This is evident in the fact that many students over the years have entrusted her with mentoring them on not just academic pursuits, but personal endeavors. Ms. Durso responds to them with care and respect and helps them navigate through difficult times in their lives. This in itself is enough for her to deserve this prestigious award. Furthermore, she is incredibly active in her school community. She advises Model UN, the highly esteemed Academic Decathlon team, and Student Council. She was also approached by the administration of her school to help lead numerous Professional Development sessions on close reading strategies that she presented to both high school and middle school teachers. She was previously the Freshmen Girls Basketball Team Coach, and has since attended numerous school events to show her support for her students. In the classroom, Ms. Durso works tirelessly to challenge her students whether it is in her AP World History course (which now has booming student enrollment) or her ESL history classes. She is constantly working hard to try different teaching strategies that best reach her students. Just this past year she was recognized by the school for her AP students' high scores on their AP Exams this past year. I can think of no better candidate worthy of this honor. Laura Durso is the epitome of a life changer.

Jared Wexler Posted over a year ago

As a colleague of Ms. Durso’s, I’m constantly in awe of her seemingly endless energy and devotion. She is an exemplar of what our field should be, and should be recognized for it!!!

Nicole Beidler Posted over a year ago

There is no one more deserving of this award than Ms. Durso. She advocates and cares for her students in ways that leave impressions on them for years to come. She truly has touched and changed so many lives not only in the classroom, but outside as well.

Jennifer Posted over a year ago

Laura is such a kind and generous person. I met Laura in high school where she was always kind and respectful. Year later, I was in the process of relocating with my two children when I lost my job. As a single mom, I found myself in a difficult situation and Laura was one of the first to come to my aid. She donated furnishings that helped me create a warm and inviting environment for my children to call home. I will forever be grateful.