Optimist Award Winners

Edison Intermediate School social studies teacher John Stasi and Roosevelt Intermediate School nurse Sharon Dorry have been recognized as outstanding intermediate school educators by the Optimist Club of Westfield and will be honored by the Westfield Board of Education on Tuesday, June 11.

The Optimist Club, a not-for-profit service organization that supports youth and the community, presents an award annually to two Westfield educators - one each from Edison and Roosevelt.  Stasi and Dorry are the recipients of the 22nd Annual Optimist Club Award which recognizes the importance of teaching at the intermediate level.

“I congratulate Ms. Dorry and Mr. Stasi for this well-deserved honor,” says Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan. “This award recognizes educators who provide an educationally stimulating and supporting environment during this critical stage of adolescence.”

Following six years as an educator in Elizabeth, Stasi began teaching 7th and 8th grade history at Edison Intermediate School in 1998.

“The best part of my job is the time in between the bell at the start of class and the bell at the end of class,” says Stasi.  “The time I get to spend with my students is the greatest part of my day.  And the best part about teaching is that every September there is a fresh beginning.  A clear opening and closing.  Not many careers can boast that!”

Stasi earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Communication from Rutgers University and a Master of Arts in History Curriculum from Kean University.   He is described by those who nominated him for the Optimist award as a “kind and compassionate” teacher who “consistently demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to students, colleagues, and the Westfield community.”  One 7th grader writes that Mr. Stasi “brings a joy and liveliness to the classroom,” making history much more understandable and enjoyable.

In addition to advising the Video Game Club, Stasi is the advisor of the Stone of Hope Club -- a Westfield Rotary Interact Club -- where he oversees student volunteers every Wednesday morning as they prepare approximately 40 bagged lunches to be donated to an area homeless shelter. 

“This year at Edison, we had a Social and Emotional Learning goal which focused on striving to “enhance student capacity to communicate, persevere and be connected at school,” says one colleague in a nominating letter.  “Mr. Stasi achieves this goal everyday inside and outside the classroom.  It’s who he is.  He is one of the kindest and most caring teachers that I’ve ever met in my over twenty years teaching in the Westfield Public Schools.

“I am incredibly humbled and a little embarrassed by all of the attention,” says Stasi.  “It’s an honor to be recognized by administration, co-workers and students.  The staff here at Edison is amazing.  They are the most supportive and selfless professionals I have had the pleasure to work with.  Each and every one of them is deserving of this award.”

Roosevelt’s Sharon Dorry worked for two decades as a critical care nurse in various hospitals and homecare assignments before beginning her career as a school nurse at RIS 11 years ago.  What she likes most about the job, she says, is “that it doesn’t feel like work.”

“I absolutely adore the students.  They make me laugh, they keep things ‘real,’ they keep me on my toes because I need to be able to relate to them and what they are going through at a very vulnerable stage of life,” says Dorry, who adds that the administration and staff at Roosevelt are “top notch.”  “I have never worked in a more supportive, cohesive, and professionally challenging environment. And all, at the same time, having fun doing it!”

Dorry received an associate degree in nursing and became a Registered Nurse through a community college affiliated with the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and a degree as a Certified School Nurse/Health Educator at Kean University.  She is a current member of the Westfield Board of Health and is a delegate for the Westfield Education Association.

Over the years at Roosevelt, Dorry has served on and advised various staff committees and student clubs, including the leadership team, the Sunshine Club, and the Digital Yearbook Club.  She has been a Teddy Roosevelt (TR) Scholar mentor and has chaperoned numerous school field trips.

Described in nominating letters as “a truly positive force at Roosevelt School” who shares “a special bond with students,” Dorry is also praised as a “gentle and empathetic” nurse who gives her undivided attention to each and every person.  Nominators also note Dorry’s energy and enthusiasm in organizing a Health Bee each year, with students answering questions on health-related subjects.

“I feel beyond blessed to even be in the company of the recipients who have been given this award over the past years and to be surrounded by others who I deem even more deserving than myself,” says Dorry who also gives a “shout-out” to former principal Stewart Carey for his continued encouragement in years past.  “I am humbled and so grateful.”

Being nominated by the school community, her colleagues and students, she adds, “makes me appreciate this honor even more.”

The Optimist Club of Westfield will honor Dorry and Stasi at a dinner on June 12.


Source: Westfield Public Schools