NJ educator hits bullseye with Pinterest

Published on Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wendell Steinhauer 
NJEA Vice President Wendell Steinhauer on his way to surprise fifth grade teacher Josie Smolka with a prize package. Smolka was one of five educators across the nation recognized for their creativity in using Pinterest to enhance their students’ classroom experience.
As part of NEA’s National Teacher Day celebration, WTEA member Josie Smolka, a fifth grade teacher at Pond Road Middle School in Robbinsville, was one of five educators across the nation recognized for their creativity in using Pinterest to enhance their students’ classroom experience. 

Thanks to the cooperation of the building principal, Paul Gizzo, the Pond Road Middle School administration team, and the local association president, Mike Johnson, Smolka was unaware that she was the selected educator from New Jersey.

At the May 8 surprise event, NJEA Vice President Wendell Steinhauer presented an unsuspecting Smolka with an “inspiration box”, which was filled with items pinned on her Pinterest board.   

“On behalf of the NEA, NJEA, MCEA, and WTEA, we are presenting you with this token of appreciation for your outstanding work on Pinterest,” Steinhauer said amid applause from Smolka’s colleagues and students.  “But it’s also a token for your dedication to your students, and for the sharing of these great ideas with all of your colleagues.”

Among those items were books for her classroom, a terrarium starter kit, and even a necklace that Smolka had admired online.

 Pinterest winner Josie Smolka
(L to r) Mike Johnson, WTEA president, NJEA Vice President Wendell Steinhauer, Josie Smolka, and Paul Gizzo, Pond Road Middle School principal congratulate Smolka.
“Teachers are out there doing some amazing things for their classrooms,” Johnson told Smolka’s cheering students.  “Your teacher is doing one heck of a job using this social media site for you.”

After recovering from her initial shock, Smolka raved about the benefits of Pinterest and how frequently she uses it for classroom ideas and activities.

“There’s so much that I use this for,” Smolka said.  “We just made a Mother’s Day gift of flowers based on an idea on Pinterest, and participated in Earth Day activities found there.  I just learned about it this past summer and have been building it ever since.  I can’t wait to go home and tell my husband that all my time online has not been a waste of time!”


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