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North Dover Elementary School

Led by Principal Colleen McGrath (left) and Supervisor Dina O'Donnell (right), North Dover has been recognized as among the top 40 percent of elementary schools in the United States.

'I find so much joy in my job'

March 8, 2024-- U.S. News & World Report has recognized North Dover Elementary School as among the best in the country.

"[W]e published our 2024 Best Elementary Schools, and the news is good for North Dover Elementary School: Your school placed among the top 40% of elementary schools in the state of New Jersey, making it a U.S. News Best Elementary School," U.S. News & World Report Vice President Mark W. White wrote in a message to the school earlier this year.

Founded in 1956, North Dover-- home of the Pirates-- serves students living in the north section of Toms River. Its current population hovers around 400 students and 60 staff members. A Title 1 school, almost a quarter of NDE students-- approximately 24 percent-- are multilingual learners.

The news elicited praise from Superintendent Mike Citta, who exclaimed, "Great job! We are so proud of the work you, your team, and your school are doing on behalf of our students," in a message to North Dover Principal Colleen McGrath.

Colleen McGath and Dina ODonnell

North Dover Supervisor Dina O'Donnell (left) and Principal Colleen McGrath

The distinction inspired McGrath to reflect and solicit feedback from her staff about their experience serving students at the school over the years.

"I find so much joy in my job," said NDE teacher Gina Pizzuto. "As for North Dover ... the staff are family; we want each other to do well and we hold each other up."

"Being a school counselor at North Dover is more than just a job for me," said Alexandra Crockett, "it's a deeply rewarding and fulfilling experience that allows me to make a positive impact on the lives of students."

Each grade level, from kindergarten through fifth, as well as special services, special subjects, and support staff, collaborated to produce a story of what it means to work and teach at North Dover. No matter the instructional level or department, the themes were common-- fostering a positive and welcoming environment, safety and nurturing, and a focus on the whole child.

"We prioritize social and emotional learning, believing that strong relationships are the foundation of effective teaching," wrote NDE's collection of fourth-grade teachers. "We love the saying, 'Children don’t care what you know until they know that you care.'"

It's clear how and why North Dover Elementary School has forged a culture and learning environment that has garnered the attention of entities like U.S. News & World Report. Congratulations to everyone at NDE on this well-deserved honor!

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