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    Kathryn Forsyth, Director

For Release: June 27, 2005

Four NJ Educators Are Presidential Award Finalists

Four New Jersey teachers have been named 2005 finalists in the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching competition, the nation’s highest honor for math and science educators.

Each state establishes panels of science and mathematics teachers to nominate its finalists every year. Next April, national panels will select Presidential Award winners from among the state finalists.

New Jersey’s 2005 finalists are:

  • Bonnie Gendaszek, John Witherspoon Middle School, Princeton Regional School District, mathematics
  • S. Leigh Nataro, North Hunterdon High School, North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional School District, mathematics
  • Felicya Timmes, Central Regional High School, Central Regional School District (Ocean County), mathematics
  • Lois Lyons, High Technology High School, Monmouth County Vocational School District, science.

"These outstanding educators combine their knowledge of the subjects they teach with the ability to inspire their students and colleagues," said Commissioner of Education William L. Librera. "We at the Department share in the pride that their schools, districts and families have for their accomplishments."

Bonnie Gendaszek has been a teacher in the Princeton Regional School District for more than 25 years. For the past 11 years, she has taught Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and Accelerated Algebra II at John Witherspoon Middle School. Prior to coming to Witherspoon, she taught at Princeton High School.

Gendaszek, who lives in Lambertville, earned a Bachelors degree in Mathematics from Wheaton College, a Masters of Teaching degree from the University of Chicago and a Master of Education degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

She has been instrumental in developing new instructional strategies and different approaches to developing mathematical ideas in her students. Her students are well prepared to be good mathematical thinkers ready, for the challenges of high school.

S. Leigh Nataro has taught College Prep Geometry and AP Statistics at North Hunterdon High School for four years. For ten years prior to joining the North Hunterdon/Vorhees Regional District, she taught for ten years in Pennsylvania, Vermont and Iowa.

A resident of Easton, PA, Nataro earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Messiah College and her Master’s degree in School Mathematics from Iowa State University. She is currently a candidate for National Board Certification.

She has presented at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics National Conference, has been published in the ENC Focus magazine and has been the discrete math and trigonometry/calculus problem of the week coordinator for The Math Forum.

Felicya Timmes has taught Algebra II and Elementary Analysis and Statistics at Central Regional High School for four years. Before joining the Central Regional District, she taught for ten years at Veterans Memorial Middle School in Brick and the Monmouth County Academy of Allied Health and Science in Neptune.

Timmes, who lives in Toms River, is a National Board Certified teacher. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree, both in Mathematics and both from Georgian Court University.

She received the Golden Apple Award from Central Regional High School in 2004, serves as a student mentor, and is a class advisor and an advisor for the school’s Spirit Committee, the Renaissance Committee, the Bullying Committee and the Liaison Committee.

Lois Lyons has taught AP Chemistry, Laboratory Chemistry and Research/Data Analysis II at High Technology High School for 12 years.

A resident of Tinton Falls, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Rutgers University and her Master of Arts degree with Distinction in Science, Mathematics and Computer Curricula from Kean University.

Lyons is a faculty committee member to the school’s Chemical, Compliance, Crisis Management, Middle States, Academic Integrity Policy, National Honor Society and Attendance Review Committees and is the faculty advisor for the Chemistry Leagues I and II and the Environmental Club. She coaches the Water Testing Team of the Monmouth County Planning Board, the Regional Competition of the American Chemical Society and the Toshiba/Exploravision Student Competition.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching program was established in 1983. In alternate years, the program honors teachers in grades K-6 and 7-12. Candidates must have taught science or mathematics for at least five years.

Nomination forms for the 2006 selection process honoring elementary educators, grades K-6, are available online at Anyone can nominate an educator whom they feel is deserving of this award.

For more information about awards in education, please visit the DOE website:

For more information about the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, please contact the DOE Office of Administrative and Regulatory Affairs at (609) 777-1653.

For more information about the content in this news release, please contact the DOE Public Information Office at (609) 292-1126.