A teacher who rocks!

Matheny teacher Karen Deland, seen here with 16-year-old student Daniel Gaudreau, has been chosen as one of WDHA-FM and WMTR-AM’s Teachers Who Rock Class of 2012. She is one of 24 outstanding teachers who will be recognized by the Greater Media radio stations, located in Cedar Knolls, NJ.

The awards are presented because the stations feel excellent teachers are not receiving adequate recognition for their important contribution to society. Deland and the other teachers will receive their award at a special banquet on March 13 at Ravello Elegant Weddings & Banquets in East Hanover, NJ.

Deland, a resident of Berkeley Heights, first taught at the Matheny School in Peapack in 1979. She left in 1980 to accept a teaching position in the Franklin Township Public School District in Quakertown, NJ. After earning a law degree and raising a family, she returned to Matheny in 2009 and, in 2010, was named Matheny’s Educator of the Year.

In her classes, Deland uses a Smart Board, which helps some of her students with poor vision follow along, “because it’s so large and bright, and you can change the background and meet their needs. Without the technology,” she says, “we would be doing textbook learning, which isn’t really appropriate for our population.”

After spending time as a teacher in both public and private schools and practicing law, Deland came back to Matheny because she missed the “special students.” Today’s Matheny students are much more medically complex than the students she taught 30 years ago, but the keys to success, she says, are flexibility and patience. “You just have to roll with it,” she says. “You may be working on phonetics today, but were working on compound words the day before, and one of the students will blurt out, ‘bedroom.’ Wow! She remembered it.”

Of course, not all education takes place in the classroom. “If we cannot provide our population with the ability to be out in public, we have a done a disservice to them,” she says. Her class recently played miniature golf at Hyatt Hills, a handicapped-accessible course in Clark. “I can put a student on a bus and take her to Shop Rite or take her to a golf course. I can’t think of any day that goes by that somebody doesn’t warm my heart.”