New Jersey Department of Education

Issue 3: July 2023

Monmouth County Teacher of the Year Message

Photo of Kimberly Grigoli

My name is Kimberly Grigoli, and I am the 2022-2023 Monmouth County Teacher of the Year. I teach kindergarten at the Spring Lake Heights Elementary School in the Spring Lake Heights School District.

In recognition of National Make a Difference to Children Month, I would like to emphasize the tremendous impact that we, as educators, have on the lives of our students. As educators, we are responsible for delivering content and building knowledge, but we also nurture young minds and hearts. We create an environment that fosters empathy, kindness, and inclusivity.

Research shows that early childhood education is a critical determining factor for student performance in later grades. The experiences and learning opportunities we provide our students during these formative years will lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning.

Quality early childhood education has a lasting positive effect on a child's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Therefore, we must engage our students in developmentally appropriate play-based activities which promote critical thinking and foster a love for learning from an early age. By doing so, as educators, we will ignite curiosity in our students and prepare them for future success.

Now, more than ever, our responsibility extends far beyond the classroom, as we become role models and partners in education for both our students and their families. We are responsible in building a bridge to create trust and foster relationships.

Best practices and teaching methods are constantly changing and evolving; therefore, families look to educators for guidance on how best to support their children. Creating that support system with families helps our young students thrive in and out of the classroom. Together, we make a lasting impact on the lives of our students and shape a brighter future for learners.

Thank you for your dedication and commitment to our students.

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Featured NJDOE Division—Early Childhood Services

The Division of Early Childhood Services (DECS) includes the Office of Preschool Education and the Office of Kindergarten through Third Grade (K–3) Education. In addition, DECS houses New Jersey’s Head Start Collaboration Office and the New Jersey Council for Young Children.

DECS is committed to enhancing the social-emotional, physical, and cognitive development of New Jersey's children from birth through third grade by supporting the implementation of comprehensive services that address the needs of the whole child.

DECS provides leadership, resources and professional learning opportunities that support high-quality early childhood and early elementary learning programs. The division also provides guidance and capacity-building for meaningful family engagement.

At the New Jersey Department of Education and DECS, the priority is to lead and build New Jersey’s early education programs to provide all young children with equitable, high-quality opportunities for learning and a developmentally appropriate education.


  • Develop and align program standards, teaching, learning, and resources anchored to best practices and current research on early childhood development and learning.
  • Develop guidance, modules and other materials designed to facilitate the implementation of each component of high-quality development and learning programs for children from birth through 3rd grade.
  • Track, reflect and adjust implementation procedures to improve outcomes.
  • Build capacity to maximize the relationship with families to promote development and learning in all areas.
  • Enrich services by expanding and including the voices of diverse stakeholders.
  • Provide regional and on-site support to strategic staff who facilitate relevant information to local educators.

Preschool Expansion Initiative

Providing free early childhood education to every three and four-year-old in New Jersey remains an important goal of the Murphy Administration. Since Governor Murphy took office, high-quality preschool programs have been introduced to over 160 school districts, opening seats for more than 12,000 additional children.

The New Jersey Strategic Plan for Preschool Expansion Phase I: Foundation establishes a set of clear priorities to reach the goal of expanding high-quality preschool. Phase II will include extensive research to develop a detailed strategic implementation plan.

Kindergarten to Third Grade Education Program Resource Packet

The K–3 Resource Packet to Support Home/School Partnerships provides early childhood educators, administrators, and families with equitable support to use home and school learning partnerships as a tool to improve student outcomes. The primary goal of the K–3 Resource Packet is to expand and strengthen learning beyond the classroom.

The resource contains targeted communication templates, learning tools, and sample communications on a variety of topics. The subject matter of each was developed with input from New Jersey practitioners who work with parents and families.

The DECS webpage contains additional resources including best practices guidelines, guidance, parent/family resources, and other program-specific supports.

Contact Us

Office of Preschool Education:

Office of Kindergarten through Third Grade (K–3) Education: 


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