Recent Grad Elizabeth Rose Zwierzynski is Honored as a NJ Distinguished Student Teacher of 2013

Elizabeth Rose Zwierzynski (Ed.M. Dance Education May 2013) has been recognized by the New Jersey Department of Education as one of the New Jersey Distinguished Student Teachers of 2013. This award is announced annually, recognizing fifteen of the year’s top graduates of teacher preparation programs administered by New Jersey colleges and universities. Elizabeth's dossier, submitted by the GSE, was evaluated by a panel of professionals in the education field, displaying that she is exceptionally well prepared for her career in the teaching profession.


Zwierzynski, who has already begun working as a dance educator at the high-school level, was deeply inspired when she visited South Africa two summers ago as a participant of Rutgers Graduate School of Education’s South Africa Initiative 2011 Study Tour (SAI). During this three-week service/learning trip, Elizabeth was able to teach dance to underprivileged children while traveling through South Africa. Her trip has been well documented in her blog.

“One of my most cherished memories is of a young girl who ran up to me after I had finished class. She caught word that someone was teaching a dance class, asked me if I danced ballet and began moving. The young girl allowed me to follow her dance movements. We shared a mutual role of leader and listener as we switched, dancing and following. There was something so brilliant and vital shared in that nonverbal communication” wrote Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was able to participate in this extraordinary opportunity through funding from the Graduate School of Education, The South African Initiative and the Mason Gross School of the Arts Academic Excellence Fund. 
This trip has inspired Elizabeth to stay involved in the South Africa Initiative. This summer while three dance students, Meg Hebert, Melissa Sande, and N’Talia Wilson were on the SAI 2012 Study Tour, Elizabeth connected with them through a lesson plan they jointly developed called “My Helping Hands”. 
Elizabeth engaged the Graduate School of Education and Mason Gross School of the Arts community to create an answer the prompt  “my helping hands will…” with an action or event they participated in to assist their community. At the same time, Meg, Melissa, and N’Talia who were in Cape Town, South Africa, developed three prompts with the South African students. They then Skype conferenced Elizabeth and the US Learners to exchange community oriented goals. 

Other recent Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE) New Jersey Distinguished Student Teacher Award recipients include:

  • Olivia Mode- Dance Education, 2012
  • Lauren Hayes – Elementary and Special Education, 2011
  • Luis Leyva – Mathematics Education, 2011
  • Jonathan Chia– Physics Education, 2010
  • Ms. Shari Wejsa– Social Studies Education, 2010
  • Danielle Devletian– Mathematics Education, 2008
  • Nicole Lenart– Social Studies, 2008
  • Michelle Mika – Mathematics Education, 2006
  • Shannon Smith- English Education, 2006
  • Lisa-Marie Batelli– Social Studies Education, 2006
  • Cathleen Cirrotti– Science Education, 2006
  • Lisa Gergasko– Elementary Education, 2005
  • Kara Ingling– English Education, 2005
  • Christine Osborne- Physical Science Education
  • Jenny Roca– Special Education, 2005
  • Lisa Greenwald- English Education, 2004
  • Aliki Nicolaides– English Education, 2004
  • Rebekah Golieb– Elementary Education, 2003