The Rutherford English Language Arts Department consists of a dynamic teaching staff in grades 7-12. Grades 7 and 8 are taught in Union Middle School. Grades 9-12 are taught at Rutherford High School.
Working alongside the teachers are two dedicated media specialists and several clerical assistants who work to provide an exciting learning environment for all students.
Our staff is comprised of:
Ms. Nina-Rose Barcenas, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Miss Barcenas graduated from Caldwell University with a double bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and English, along with a Middle School Math Endorsement. Miss Barcenas returned to her hometown roots at Rutherford High School in 2020 – she is a proud alumnus. Miss Barcenas is a published poet; her poetry book made its debut in March of 2022. Her passion for writing and creating has sprouted a newfound interest and allowed her to take on the role of the 2023-2024 Yearbook Advisor. She is looking forward to both teaching her English 300 students as well as constructing a memorable yearbook for the graduating class.
Mrs. Nicole Bowden, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Mrs. Bowden received her bachelor’s degree from Rowan University and her Master’s degree from Montclair State University. She began teaching at Rutherford High School in 2007. Mrs. Bowden is currently teaching AP Language and Composition and English 200; she is also the assistant director of the marching band and the co-director of PopCert.
Mrs. Regina Buell, Clerical Assistant, Rutherford High School – Mrs. Buell has been the English Department Clerical Assistant since 2006 and is a graduate of Rutherford High School. She is a lifelong member of the Rutherford community where she raised her three children. Mrs. Buell is also an active community volunteer, serving as both a past PTA President and the past RHS PTSA Vice President.
Mrs. Megan Collins, Teacher of English, Grades 7&8, Union Middle School – Mrs. Collins has been with the Rutherford School district since 2008. She earned a BA from The College of New Jersey, with a major in English and Secondary Education, and an MA in Literacy from Montclair State University. A lifelong reader, Mrs. Collins’s favorite genres include young adult historical fiction and narrative nonfiction. She is passionate about literature and technology, and she is looking forward to new and exciting ways of integrating the two in the upcoming school year.
Mr. Joshua Dhaliwal, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Mr. Dhaliwal earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in Philosophy and Film/Video from Providence College in 2022. He joined Rutherford High School in 2023 and is excited to be teaching English 100 this semester.
Mrs. Alyssa Dimitroff, Library Assistant, Union Middle School – Mrs. Dimitroff began working in the Rutherford School District in September 2023. She is the mother of three children in the district, and has enjoyed many years of volunteering with various PTAs in Rutherford. She loves to read, and is excited to be working in the school and helping the students choose books and feel at home in the library.
Mrs. Lauren Djecki, Teacher of English, Grades 7&8, Union Middle School – Mrs. Djecki is looking forward to another great year working with the middle school students and staff in Rutherford. She earned degrees in Secondary English, Elementary Education, and Special Education from The College of New Jersey. She is excited to work with seventh and eighth graders again, and is ready to explore literature with her students.
Ms. Melissa Dougard, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Ms. Dougard received her degree from Montclair State University. She began teaching at Rutherford High School in 2001. Ms. Dougard is currently teaching Honors English 100 and Creative Writing; she is also the advisor for the school’s literary magazine, Scribe.
Mr. Brian Ersalesi, Supervisor of English & Arts, Grades K-12 – Mr. Ersalesi joined the Rutherford Public Schools in September of 2013. Prior to that, he spent many exciting years as a teacher of English, Theatre Arts and Broadcasting for grades 7-12 at Midland Park High School in Midland Park, NJ. Mr. Ersalesi received his M. Ed. in Educational Leadership from William Paterson University and holds teaching certifications in Elementary Education, English, Speech Arts and Dramatics.
Mrs. Dawn Gallo-Pasquale, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Mrs. Gallo-Pasquale attended Felician College where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English. She studied Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Oxford University. After receiving her Master of Arts in English from Seton Hall University, she taught English at Immaculate Conception High School and College Writing at Seton Hall University and Montclair State University. Mrs. Gallo-Pasquale began teaching English at RHS in September of 2004. She enjoys moderating Book Club.
Mr. William Gamboa Teacher of English, Grades 7 & 8 Union Middle School – Mr. Gamboa has been part of the Union School faculty since January 2022. He is a graduate of Hunter College CUNY in New York City and has a Master’s degree in the Art of teaching. He has taught high school both in the public sector in New Jersey as well as the private sector overseas where he taught Diploma English under the International Baccalaureate program. He is excited to be part of the Rutherford community and is looking forward to a great school year.
Ms. Lisbhet Garcia, Teacher of English and Special Education, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Ms. Garcia obtained her BA in English literature from New Jersey City University and her MA in Education with a concentration in inclusion from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Ms. Garcia taught at RHS from 2009 -2016 and has recently returned to the district.
Mrs. Maria Garo, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Mrs. Garo earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from New Jersey City University, Suma Cum Laude, with a concentration in British Literature. She began her teaching career in the Jersey City public school system where she taught at the high school level for two years and joined Rutherford Public Schools in September of 2016. She will be teaching English 300 and English 300 Honors in the 2018-2019 school year. She comes from a family of educators who sparked her love for education and learning. She is thankful to be a member of the Rutherford community and eager to begin a very successful and positive school year.
Mrs. Sherrianne Herninko, Library Media Specialist, Rutherford High School – Mrs. Herninko attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY where she received her BS degree in Psychology and became dual certified as an Elementary and Special Education teacher. She began her teaching career as a Special Education teacher at Rutherford High School, where she also coached volleyball, softball, and track. She attained her MS degree in Information Science from Rutgers University and also became certified as a Media Specialist. Mrs. Herninko worked for one year as the Media Specialist at Holdrum Middle School in Rivervale, before making her way back to Rutherford. Mrs. Herninko is also the girls head lacrosse coach.
Mrs. Dawn Karczewski, Teacher of English and Special Education, Grades 7 & 8, Union Middle School – Mrs. Karczewski is the Co-Teacher for Grade 8 ELA. Prior to teaching in Rutherford, Mrs. Karczewski first acted as a Behavioral Health Counselor for children and adolescents at Saint Claire’s Hospital of Boonton. She then moved on to teach at the Windsor Schools of Pompton Lakes where she assisted students in meeting their academic and social growth through the implementation of a behavior modification system. Mrs. Karczewski has had the honor and privilege of working with children since the year 2000. Mrs. Karczewski graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Montclair State University and holds a Masters Degree in Special Education from New Jersey City University. She currently holds New Jersey certifications in Elementary Grades K-5, Elementary School with Subject Matter Specialization Language Arts/Literacy Specialization in Grades 5-8, and Teacher of the Handicapped. Mrs. Karczewski is pleased to be apart of the Rutherford teaching community and looks forward to an exciting new school year.
Mrs. Colleen Kiick, Teacher of English, Grades 7&8, Union Middle School – Mrs. Colleen Kiick has been happily teaching English Language Arts at Union School since the 2005/06 school year. She graduated from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania in 2005 with a degree in English and Secondary Education. During her undergraduate studies, she attended the University of Brighton, England to study Old to Middle English literature. In 2008, she graduated with a Masters’ Degree in Instruction from the College of New Jersey. She very much enjoys traveling, coffee, photography, writing, and spending quality time with family and friends.
Mrs. Kelly Lancaster, Teacher of English and Special Education, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Mrs. Lancaster earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in African American literature from Montclair State University. She earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education and she completed her plus 30 with a focus on reading specialty. Mrs. Lancaster began her teaching career at Emerson High School in Union City and she began teaching at Rutherford High School in 2016. Mrs. Lancaster is currently teaching English 400, English 307/407, and Reading. She is the co-advisor/co-chair of the RHS National Honor Society, the RHS Unified Club, the RHS Irish Club, and the RHS Student of the Month Committee.
Mrs. Kaitlin Mac Millan, Teacher of English, Grades 7&8, Union Middle School – Mrs. Mac Millan joined the Rutherford School District in 2010. She graduated from Felician College in 2008 with degrees in English and Elementary Education, and later earned her Secondary Education degree from William Paterson University. In 2020, Mrs. Mac Millan obtained her M. Ed. in Literacy and a Micro-Credential in Digital Learning and Teaching from the American College of Education. She is looking forward to another great year of teaching ELA at Union School.
Ms. Courtney McManus, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Ms. McManus joined RHS as an English teacher in September 2022. Prior to joining the RHS English Department, she was a 6th Grade Reading and English teacher at Pierrepont School. Ms. McManus is also the director of the RHS School Musical.
Mrs. Tara Motyka, Library Media Specialist, Union Middle School – Mrs. Motyka attended William Paterson University where she earned her BA in English Literature and became certified as a Teacher of English for grades K-12. She started off her career teaching at Wayne Hill High School where she ran the school Dance Team. While there, she earned a Masters in Library and Information Science from Rutgers and completed an educational technology program. Mrs. Motyka joined the Rutherford school district in 2015 as a Library Media Specialist at Pierrepont Elementary.
Ms. Erica Muszynski, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Ms. Prinzo joined the Rutherford community in September 2017 as an English teacher. She graduated with her B.A. in Literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey and has been teaching since 2014. Prior to coming to RHS, she worked at Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest and Henry P. Becton Regional High School. She’s been involved in many extra-curricular activities over the years, and this year she is proud to be the advisor of the R-Hi newspaper. She is excited to have another great year at Rutherford High School.
Mr. Jason Narozny, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Mr. Narozny received his Bachelor of Arts from Montclair State University and his Masters in Educational Technology from Ramapo College. He began his teaching career at Rutherford High School in 1998. Throughout the years Mr. Narozny has had the privilege of teaching each high school grade level, as well as college prep, honors, and AP courses. He has also been the Academic Decathlon coach since 1999 and looks forward to continuing coaching for many years to come!
Dr. Mark Porto, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12 – Dr. Porto is teaching English 200 as a leave replacement. He earned his BA in Psychology, with a double minor in English and Philosophy at Seton Hall University and his MA in Philosophy/Theology from Seton Hall. He also holds an STM and STL (European degrees in Theology) from St. Mary’s University in Baltimore and a PhD in Philosophy/Religious Studies from the Graduate Theological Foundation. Since 1991, Dr. Porto has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Ethics, Logic and Critical Thinking, World Religions, and other courses in religious studies including Faith in Film and Religion and Society at St. Elizabeth University, St. Thomas Aquinas College, and Bergen Community College. Dr. Porto taught English and Psychology at Hackensack High School, Garfield High School, and Leonia High School. He was the principal at Hackensack High School, the Superintendent of Schools in Hasbrouck Heights, and the English/Humanities Supervisor, PreK-12 in Leonia Schools.
Miss Monica Rizzi, Teacher of English and Special Education, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Ms.Rizzi has been with the Rutherford School District since 2019. She began as a 7th and 8th grade ELA teacher at Union School and then joined the Rutherford High School English Department in 2020. She graduated from Montclair State University with a B.A in English and obtained her teaching certification from Caldwell University. She recently earned her Master of Education in Special Education from Montclair State University. Ms.Rizzi is excited to be teaching English 100 and 200 this year. She also co-advises the Class of 2026. She is thrilled to continue her passion for teaching with her upcoming students!
Mr. Michael Stracco, Teacher of English, Grades 9-12, Rutherford High School – Mr. Stracco is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University and Ramapo College. Mr. Stracco teaches Public Speaking and English. In addition to his teaching duties, Mr. Stracco is the advisor for the GSA.
Mrs. Margaret VanDyk, Clerical Assistant, Rutherford High School – Mrs. VanDyk has been a resident of Rutherford for many years. She is the mother of seven who are all graduates of the Rutherford school system. She enjoys interacting with the high school students and assisting them with all their library needs.