Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Charlotte Ford Spillane

  • "Doing the right thing for students and the community is her delight.."
  • "Her joie de vivre inspires all who know her."
Ms. Charlotte Ford Spillane, our distinguished honoree, has indeed "contributed in an exemplary way to the ideals and educational philosophy" of the Toms River Regional Schools. A 1947 graduate of Pleasantville High School, Ms. Spillane earned her B.A. in English and Theatre Arts at Murray State University. Her teaching career began in Southboro, Massachusetts in 1957. Moving to Toms River in 1959 with her husband Bernard, a history teacher at High School South, and her two small children, Ms. Spillane's first assignment was teaching English at the Intermediate School where she also served as Department Chairperson from 1964-1968. She continued to pursue her own education, receiving her M.A. in Curriculum and Supervision from Rutgers University in 1968, then taking post graduate courses including Media and Technical Design, Public Relations, Guidance and Counseling, School Law, Legal Analysis and Educational Administration at Georgian Court College and Marymount Manhattan as well as other institutions of higher learning from 1970 to 1984. She earned professional certificates for English, 7-12; Speech and Dramatic Arts; and Supervisor/Principal.

Ms. Spillane joined the faculty at High School North when it opened in 1969 teaching English and Theatre. In 1970, she wrote the course of study for Theatre Arts and proceeded to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for the theatre with the students at T.R.H.S. North and from 1979 to 1983 at T.R.H.S. South. In addition to directing such shows as: YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU; THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH; M*A*S*H and musicals including HELLO, DOLLY; KISS ME KATE; THE WIZ; CHICAGO; and FINIAN'S RAINBOW, which won state honors in 1971, she arranged to have the district accepted as a branch of the International Thespian Society.

As an assistant principal at T.R.H.S. South, North and East from 1983 until she retired in 1994, Ms. Spillane was deeply involved in administrative duties. However, she found time to see beyond the paperwork and the discipline problems. Believing that students needed positive role models and inspiration, she founded, with the encouragement and backing of Superintendent Albert Dietrich, the Toms River Schools Hall of Fame in 1986. To date, sixty-two former students of the Toms River Schools have been honored for their outstanding achievements or their humanitarian contributions. A museum-quality Hall of Fame exhibit was also established in downtown Toms River. The exhibit has recently been added to the Ocean County Historic Walking Tour. In 1990, seeing another pressing need, she started the Teen Age Parent Program and was named its District Co-coordinator. T.A.P.P. continues to function as a support group for pregnant teens to foster good parenting and encourage teen mothers to continue their education. At this time, Ms. Spillane also served on the Monmouth/Ocean County Teen Pregnancy Task Force (1990-1993). In 1991, she founded and was the District Administrator for the In-School Suspension Program. In its pilot year, it served 553 students from the three high schools and two intermediate schools. Teachers and Student Assistance Counselors made sure the students did their school work but they also worked on the issues of conflict resolution, self-esteem and personal problems.

and Substance Abuse Program. As a member of the National Secondary Schools Principals Association, she was chosen because of these initiatives to participate in study missions to England, Wales and Ireland to exchange information and concerns with other educators.

Her interest in helping young people was never limited to the school setting. As a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, she has served on their Legislation and Governmental Relations Committee as well as the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee. She co-founded B.A.D. (Boxers Against Drugs of Ocean County, Inc.) which provides a positive activity for teens. In addition to being its secretary-treasurer, she is also a certified official Uudge) with USA Boxing and the N.J. Amateur Boxing Federation. Locally, she co-chairs the Dover Township Juvenile Conference Committee which adjudicates first time offenders for the Ocean County Superior Court System. In 1993 she was awarded the court's Award of Distinction as a citizen volunteer. During the award ceremony she was described as ''The genuine article....bringing her extraordinary experience and genuine love and commitment to young people fully to bear in assisting the Family Court....she has constantly sought creative solutions to the problems facing the youth she deals with to guide them toward more productive paths".

Other community activities include being elected Republican County Committeewoman (1978-1980,1990-1991), serving on the Government Affairs Committee and the Education Committee of the Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. She was appointed to and continues to serve with the Dover Township Municipal Alliance, the Dover Township Board of Ethical Standards, as well as having served on the Dover Township Youth Advisory Committee and the Admiral Farragut Academy Executive Board.

Horses have also played a big part in Ms. Spillane's life. She has been a licensed owner/breeder with the New Jersey Thoroughbred Breeders Association. For ten years, she bred, raised and raced thoroughbreds. Two that enjoyed success were ''Toms River Sailor" and ''Toms River Indian". Today, she continues her horse enthusiasm by visits with her son, who pursues his equine career in Lexington, Kentucky. Now, part of her leisure time is spent sharing her interest in the arts and business with her daughters, Stephanie and Bonnie. She hopes she will also now have time to indulge her love of reading, researching and writing.

Ms. Charlotte Ford Spillane is honored today for being an exemplary role model to her students, colleagues, and fellow citizens. She has made this world a better place through her contributions to the Toms River Regional Schools and the community. Her joie de vivre inspires all who know her.

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