Fernicola’s positive attitude earns her teacher of the year


Photo courtsey of Amanda Fernicola

Motivated by empowering her students, Mrs. Fernicola strives to better herself everyday.

This year, Amanda Fernicola, West Essex’s very own WE connect teacher, Key Club advisor and sophomore class advisor accepted the well-deserved Governor’s Teacher of the Year Award, better known as the educator of the year.

“I was shocked,” Fernicola said. “I started to cry, I couldn’t believe it.” 

After nine years of work at West Essex, Fernicola’s passion and dedication to both the students and staff has paid off. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Fernicola said. “I love working with students. I love giving back to the school community and spending time here. This is my home away from home.”

Fernicola’s achievements at West Essex stretch far beyond teaching. She has been involved in SAT and ACT test coordination, wellness day organization, boys and girls volleyball clock operation, advising the Key Club and more. 

Fernicola started her journey as an educator at Montclair State for her undergraduate degree in history education. She then continued to earn her first masters degree from Ramapo College for educational technology. Persistent and determined, Fernicola worked to earn her second masters degree in educational leadership. 

She always wanted to continue her schooling both for the betterment of her students and the expansion of her own knowledge. Fernicola is a firm believer in the fact that education is a valuable key to one’s life, and thus is able to use her position as a way to emotionally and socially encourage her students to become strong, independent thinkers. 

“I’ve learned that through teaching not everyday is the same,” Fernicola said. “Embrace the changes, be flexible and dynamic.” 

Aside from her job, Fernicola treasures the time she spends with her family. Getting married during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed her to spend quality time with her husband, and take a step back to appreciate traveling, literature (including 49 books read in 2022) and long walks with her dog.

The many years of work under her belt, and the many more to come, has taught Fernicola to strive to be the best version of herself for her students. 

 “I’m their advocate,” Fernicola said. “I’m here to help them even on their worst days so that this classroom is a safe place for them.” 

She reminds both herself and her students to never give up, and to take each new day as an opportunity to make a positive change. With this very attitude, she has proven to be well fit as the teacher of the year.