LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Susan Santoriello

Position: Retiring Special Education Chemistry Teacher
School: East Brunswick High School
School District: East Brunswick Public Schools
City, State: East Brunswick, NJ

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Music that Describes Susan

Susan Santoriello was nominated by an anonymous colleague.

Ms. Santoriello has an unique ability to make rigorous tasks accessible to all students.  There is a balance in her approach that somehow provides a nurturing, supportive environment while simultaneously demanding that each student perform their best.  Regardless of the assignment, her students get the best from her, and she gets their best in return. Watching her teach gives you a sense that, for her, teaching is both a science and an art. She is skilled in her craft and has taught in a variety of settings and levels, approaching each with a masterful attention to the thing that truly matters: the student.

Ms. Santoriello's students know they are valued, respected, and believed in. They do not get a pass on the difficult tasks, but she will support them on their journey. Her students benefit from knowing that she will not let them settle for less than they are capable of, and that they are capable of more than they believe.  She teaches the faces in her room and meets each child where they are. It's evident in her teaching that she reinvents herself each day, tailoring her approach to meet the individual needs of each learner beyond what an IEP demands. Her students emerge proud and ready for their lives after graduation because of her guidance.

She has lifted up the entire special education science program, not only by being a leader, but by formally and informally mentoring many other educators.  She is both intelligent and wise. Her approach is always backed by experience and evidence, and it's presented with a calm confidence.  Many teachers seek Ms. Santoriello's advice when the clear course of action is not apparent. Somehow, she seems to have all the answers, yet she also inspires confidence in her peers and is humble and approachable. 

"Sue Santoriello is, hands down, one of the most impactful, skilled educators I have ever met," her nominator said. "Many of my peers, including myself, credit her with shaping our views on education and consider ourselves lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from her. She is not only a mentor, but a cheerleader for her colleagues.  She is an advocate for both her students and the teaching profession. Sue speaks truth to power and is highly respected for her insights. She is a champion for equity and fairness, not sitting idly by when there is a wrong to right. She has built capacity in every school she has taught in. Sue has shown others how to master their own magic in the classroom and to find their own voices with which to champion their students."

Comments (22)

Val Alimonti Posted over a year ago

What a very well-deserved title and honor for you, Sue! Congratulations and thank you for all of the lives you’ve had such a positive, long-term impact on! Enjoy your well-deserved retirement!!!

Shirley Read Posted over a year ago

Sue, You are truly an exceptional educator. and mentor to not only your students but also your colleagues.

Elenor Posted over a year ago

Sue is truly an amazing teacher, friend and colleague. She is everything that is in her nomination bio and more. She is the one I went to for guidance, suggestions and to just have a conversation. She taught her students to work hard and they eagerly did. EBHS is a better place with her in it.

Cathy Adriance Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on a well deserved award! I'm so happy that I really got to know you over the past few years. Your students were so lucky to have had you as a teacher. You brought out the best in all of your students. I worked with your students (as a substitute) in various disciplines when they were in CJHS. I was amazed to see how you brought out capabilities and personalities I had never observed. You're amazing! Enjoy your retirement.

Kristan Shanks Posted over a year ago

Sue is one of a kind. She is someone who thinks of everyone and everything . She pushes me to be the best version of myself that I can be!

Peggy H Posted over a year ago

Not only has Sue changed the lives of her students with her attitude of unconditional love and support, but she gives her all for the school community. She started a weekly meditation and mindfulness group for students and staff and led us in a 10 minute session every Wednesday before school started. We all walked out relaxed and ready to start our day in a better frame of mind than when we entered. She didn't ask for anything in return except for our attendance, and we all appreciated her concern for the mental health of our school community.

Cheryl Pulcine Posted over a year ago

There is no one in the business of education who works harder for her students than Sue. Her efforts to meet kids where they are and offer whatever supports they need allow them to achieve things that even they didn't think were possible. She has truly changed the lives of both her students and her coworkers for the better.

Mary Gunderson Posted over a year ago

Having had the privilege of working with Sue as an Instructional Assistant over the years, I applaud the person who nominated her, for perfectly capturing who she is. This school year I was with her four periods a day. She took on the challenging task of pioneering a new science program, which required countless hours of work creating and preparing daily lessons/materials on the appropriate level. I have never seen someone who works so hard, make what she does look so easy! She embraces her student’s strengths and weaknesses, and works tirelessly to meet individual needs, both academically and emotionally. She treats Support Staff as equal partners and welcomes collaboration and feedback. She shows her students the utmost respect and insists on no less from them. There is no hidden agenda with Sue ~ what you see is what you get. I am grateful for all I have learned, and wish her a happy, healthy retirement!

Kosha Desai Posted over a year ago

The three years that I have known Susan have infact been a Life Changer for me! Being in her Chemistry class and coming away with so much fasciantion for the subject, has been pivotal in recognizing that Susan goes above and beyond for her students as well. She pours hours and hours of work in making every lesson special. Love the way she elaborates details on the board in her clear, crisp handwriting!!! Susan knows her students as no one else, and helps them patiently with almost any problem. She puts a smile on all their faces. Susan is our Yoga Guru and she immerses our minds and body in simple strategies to start the day on a positive note. Susan is invalauble, indispensable and an asset to our academic community.

Barbara Posted over a year ago

I've had the honor and pleasure of being in class with Sue. She has the gift to connect with everyone! She is a wonderful and kind person!

Emily Centimole Posted over a year ago

Sue is a wonderful role model for both her students and her colleagues. She is always willing to listen, offer advice, collaborate, problem solve, and share a smile when needed. Her passion for teaching is always evident and could be felt by anyone who enters her room. Sue goes above and beyond to ensure all her students were successful and always delivered rigorous, attainable, and engaging lessons to her students. Sue challenged students to be the best version of themselves and helped them to attain that goal.

Lynn Kapusta Posted over a year ago

Sue's hard work and dedication to her students elevates them to a higher level. She is a respected, creative and awe-inspiring teacher. Thank you for bringing your positive attitude to school every day.

Kelly Schottlander Posted over a year ago

Sue was always a fantastic mentor, teacher and colleague. She would go out of her way to help any way she could- Both students and colleagues. Her Wednesday meditation mornings made a tremendous difference in my mornings and life. She will be missed! ??

Lois Moskowitz Posted over a year ago

Sue is an inspiration to all teachers. She is inventive in her teaching strategies and is always there to share her ideas and help others: teachers and students. Sue has always given her all to the profession and her dedication and commitment has left a mark on all students who have passed through her door and all colleagues who have had the pleasure to work with her.

Barbara Chernick Posted over a year ago

Sue Santoriello is a great teacher, and a very caring individual. It has been a great pleasure to work along side her as she guides students on their journey of life.

Joanna Posted over a year ago

Sue is such a great teacher. She keeps her students engaged with innovative lessons and is always there to give extra support when needed!

Rosalie Schwailik Posted over a year ago

Sue is an amazing teacher and colleague! She is always there to lend a hand or voice when needed. There is no better person deserving of this! She is the best!!

Jonathan Posted over a year ago

Sue is the epitome of an educator. She is always willing to learn and try new things, and has been an innovative educator. Always understanding of her students' individual needs, she tirelessly works to adapt lessons to the unique needs of her students, and to never forget that they are human beings. She is always willing to listen and to help a colleague figure things out. A true teacher leader, she is highly respected and admired by her students, their parents, her colleagues, and administration. Working with her and getting to know her has been a true honor.

Brittany Posted over a year ago

Sue is simply the best! She always lends a helping hand to solve any problem! She is the best teacher a student can hope to have!

Beth Shobe Posted over a year ago

Sue, I am so blessed to know you. Thank you for your mentorship and friendship. You truly are a life changer for so many. Our halls will not be the same without you but your impact will still be there. Congratulations on your retirement.

Maria Gorman Posted over a year ago

I started out my teaching career with Sue as my yoda-- she was my mentor! That mentorship soon became a long lasting friendship and she helped inspire and mold me into the teacher I am today. Sue teaches chemistry to students with special needs--not an easy task but she did it flawlessly with an open heart and smile on her face. Always a great collaborator with colleagues, she helped transform co-teaching classrooms into intuitive, welcoming environments. There will never be another teacher like Sue, but so many students, and me, her mentee all those years ago, are forever changed for the better because of her teaching.

Tania Posted over a year ago

Sue is a wonderful and genuinely kind and compassionate person. She goes out of her way to help and support others in any way she can. She really is the best!