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posted: Wed, Sep 21st, 2016
Jamie Lee Curtis speaks with Tinc Road students, teachers, and parents

Students travel to Ellis Island to see actress/author Jamie Lee Curtis 

More than 80 fourth-graders from Tinc Road Elementary School recently traveled to Ellis Island to hear actress Jamie Lee Curtis discuss her 11th children's book, "This Is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From."

The book depicts a lesson on immigration. In it, an elementary teacher tells her class about her great-grandmother who emigrated to America with nothing but a small suitcase. The teacher compels her students to ask themselves what possessions they would take along if moving to a new country and being separated from the world they knew.

Ms. Curtis asked the Tinc Road students to ponder the same question and she called on several of the fourth-graders to answer aloud to the group.

"I picked family photos because I would be sad to leave them behind," said Gabriel Alonzo, a student in Rebecca Hopler's class. "They would remind me of the good times I had with my family."

After the presentation, which was sponsored by the "Save Ellis Island" foundation, the students toured Ellis Island to see first-hand the landmark they had read about last year as third-graders during their study of immigration. Among the highlights were the famous Great Hall and the "Stairs of Separation," a stairway that separated those allowed to enter America from those being detained for legal or medical reasons. The stairway was also the point of separation for many friends and family members who were departing for different destinations in the country.

"A lot of people say that Ellis Island was the 'Island of Tears' but to me it is the 'Island of Hope,'" said Tessa Zentko, a student in Joy Spevak's class.

The students, who will touch on the topic of immigration again this year as they explore key periods of U.S. history in the 20th Century, each received a signed copy of Ms. Curtis' book.

Maggie Tilves looks at a timeline of Ellis Island

Tinc Road's students, teachers, and parents in front of Ellis Island's main building


Welcome New Faculty Members

Tinc Road welcomed several new faculty members this year. In addition to Mara Barr, Mike Guli, and Joy Potter-Durland who are coming from other schools within the district, two teachers are brand new to Mount Olive

Beatrice Hanratty (reading specialist) finds her inspiration every day by looking back into her own past.

"School never came easy for me," Ms. Hanratty said. "I was fortunate to have the same special teacher in the first, second, and sixth grades. She always believed in me. She taught me to never give up and my goal as a teacher is to instill that mindset and excitement for learning into every child that I work with."

Ms. Hanratty was born and raised in Brooklyn. She lived on Staten Island for seven years and then moved to New Jersey 11 years ago. She comes to Mount Olive from Saddle Brook where she spent several years teaching first grade. 

In addition to her work here in the district, Ms. Hanratty also serves as the literacy coach for teachers in Montclair State University's masters program for reading specialists. She earned her bachelors in elementary education, masters in reading, reading specialist certification, and administrative supervisory certification all from Montclair. In 2015, she co-authored a paper on improving literacy at home which was published in LEARNing Landscapes Journal.

Ms. Hanratty is married and has five children – three daughters in college and two sons in high school. She spends her free time attending her children's sporting events, reading, dancing, and playing with her "gentle giants" – a Saint Bernard and an Old English Sheepdog.

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Prior to coming to Mount Olive, Cortney Sole (ESL) taught ESL for two years in Parsippany and one year in Oradell.

"I teach ESL because I love helping my students learn not only the English language but the culture that goes along with it," said Ms. Sole. "It is such a rewarding experience and helps me create a special bond with students and their families."

Ms. Sole received her bachelor's degree in elementary education and English as a second language from Montclair State University. Her master's degree from Concordia University (Portland, Ore.) is in reading.

In her spare time, the Parsippany resident enjoys going to concerts, crafting, and spending time with family and friends. She was engaged in March to her fiancée, Mike, and is busy planning their July 2017 wedding.

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