Jeanne DelColle is a high school social studies teacher from Burlington County. She lives in Marlton and teaches at the Westampton campus of Burlington County Institute of Technology. The Burlington County Institute of Technology is a countywide career and technical public school district serving high school and adult students. Ms. DelColle has taught in New Jersey for 15 years - six years as high school world history and anthropology teacher at Willingboro High School; one year as an 8th grade American government teacher at Memorial Junior High School in Willingboro; and she has taught at the Burlington County Institute of Technology since 2003.
Recently selected as the State Teacher of the Year for the 2011-12 school year, Ms. DelColle, said that her greatest accomplishment in education has been the inspiration of the next generation of teachers.
"When one of my former students told me their desire to become a teacher and said they were inspired by my example, it was both an awesome and humbling achievement," DelColle said. "When my love for teaching inspires my students to go out into the world and help others, then I have done my job both personally and professionally."
“I love it when students ‘get it’ and realize that history occurs outside of the textbook and classroom. When they make connections to other subjects, realize they have choices, and develop the confidence to follow their dreams, it is just magical,” said DelColle.
When asked why she decided to go into the teaching profession, Ms. DelColle recounted a conversation with her high school English teacher when she was sixteen who encouraged her to consider the teaching profession. She wasn’t interested at that time, so she pursued a degree in Political Science. After graduating with two degrees and taking a job in England, she soon realized that she wasn’t fulfilled in her profession. She soon returned home and reconnected with the same high school teacher that first recommended she explore the teaching profession. Encouraged by that teacher’s support, she decided to become a substitute teach in a local middle school. After her first day of school, tired and exhausted, she was hooked.
Ms. DelColle’s advice to anyone interested in becoming a teacher – “Take your vitamins and make sure you get sleep. Teaching is a marathon, not a sprint, and you have to have the energy and enthusiasm to guide the class every day. A teacher’s attitude is contagious.”
To be an effective teacher, Mrs. DelColle varies her assignments so that students of every learning style have the chance to excel. She believes that if students get frustrated and give up, they lose the desire to investigate, be creative, collaborate, and think critically about a subject.
A major misconception about teachers “has to do with the amount of work that people think goes into teaching versus how much work it actually is,” said DelColle. “People think teaching is easy and do not realize how much time, effort, energy, blood, sweat and tears is involved. Teaching is exhausting.”
If she had the chance, Mrs. DelColle would have loved to have met Eleanor Roosevelt. First Lady Roosevelt’s compassion, wit, and ability to see the best in people is something she has always admired. DelColle explained that at the time in which the First Lady lived, her opinions were controversial, but her values and ability to see the humanity in others set an example for the rest of the country to follow.
Mrs. DelColle’s favorite teacher: Glenn Zuroski, 11th Grade English teacher. “He is intelligent, funny and compassionate while also being enthusiastic about teaching,” said DelColle. “Always a consummate professional, he wore a suit to work every day, because professional dress sends the message that you take your work and your students seriously.”