English and Television Production teacher, Justine “Sett” Settembrino, has been named Becton Regional High School’s Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022 school year! This prestigious award was awarded to Settembrino on January 15, 2022, when she was greeted by our principal and superintendent Dr. Dario Sforza, assistant principal Jim Bononno, and the entire Becton Band parading through the hallways.
Sett has been teaching at Becton Regional High School for the last 11 years, teaching an array of classes from English 10, Intro to Communications/TV Production, Drama, Film/Literature, Mass Media, and many more. In addition to her teaching roles, Sett is the advisor of the Becton “Tea Leaf” Yearbook, a member of the Student of the Month committee, and has been a part of a multitude of other clubs in the past. However, Sett is no stranger to the Becton Wildcat community. Like many other teachers at Becton, she is an alumna, graduating in the class of 2003.
After graduating from Becton, Sett went on to further her education at Seton Hall University, where she studied Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in English Literature. At the time, she had little interest in becoming a teacher; however, she notes “My mother always knew that I should be a teacher, and obviously my mother was right”. Like a “typical rebellious teenager”, Sett decided to follow a different path into the world of communications and public relations, which she quickly felt was a “stifling” work environment for her. She then found herself in college becoming a substitute teacher at Becton and discovered that she really “gravitated to a classroom environment” and subsequently knew teaching was the job she was always meant to do. Sett then furthered her education through a Master’s program at Kean University in Instruction and Curriculum and earned her credits for a teaching degree. Recently, in the fall of 2021, Sett has gone back to school at Montclair State University to pursue her graduate degree in Educational Leadership.
The passion and drive Sett has for being the finest teacher she can be is obvious and does not go unnoticed. Sett says that her favorite thing about teaching English is that “Literature lends itself to mental adventure and exploration.” She also admires the different aspects of interpretation when reading diverse works of literature within her classes. She describes how one student can read a book and have one interpretation of it, but another student can read the same book and look at it in a completely different way. She loves to have discussions with her students and tries to learn from their takeaways as well when reading a specific piece of literature.
Furthermore, Sett also expresses that she thoroughly enjoys cultivating relationships and connecting with her students. She remarks “teaching your students to see something analytically or for them to fall in love with something that they may not have picked up on on their own is the most rewarding part of the job”. She also states, “exposing students to content in culture to make their lives more enriching” is an aspect of the job that is her favorite.
On the morning of January 15, Sett, along with the entire school, was anticipating the announcement of the Teacher of the Year Award. Sforza, Bononno, and the Becton Marching Band made it very clear that the announcement of this well-deserved award was something to celebrate, with the school-wide parade they took part in.
When Sett found out she had won, she was completely shocked. “I think in the back of every teacher’s head, there is the hope that this year may be the year, but I was not expecting it at all,” she explains. She also says that it was “so lovely to be acknowledged in this great way!”
Amanda Colangelo, Sett’s co-teacher for Intro to Communications/TV Productions and friend, comments, “I believe Mrs. Sett was deserving of this award because she works hard to present well-thought-out, organized, and relevant lessons to her students. She also cares about the success of all of her students academically. She is one of the first people you look to invite on a committee where you want to see fresh ideas that will benefit both our staff and students. She is extremely knowledgeable and insightful”.
After working closely with Sett for the last two years in their Intro to Communications/TV Production class, Colangelo states that she has a great sense of who Sett is as a teacher and person. “Mrs. Sett is a teacher who is always well prepared and speaks intelligently about the subject matter she presents to her students. She is firm, but fair. She genuinely cares about all her students’ learning and gives many opportunities for her students to succeed” says Colangelo. She also informs us that she has learned a lot from Sett and the way she teaches. “Although we have different approaches to delivering a lesson, I have learned that any teacher who has the student’s best interest at heart and takes the time to develop a well-organized lesson can be successful in the classroom” Colangelo articulates.
In final parting words, Sett would like to thank Dr. Sforza, the Teacher of the Year committee, and everyone at Becton for acknowledging her hard work and dedication to her craft over the last several years and bestowing this gracious award to her. She promises to “wear the title proudly” and continue to grow as a teacher and as a member of the Becton community. Congratulations to Justine Settembrino, Becton’s 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year!