McGinn Elementary Shines with National Blue Ribbon and Union County Teacher of the Year Awards


Photo courtesy of Morgan Ritter

Morgan Ritter, Culture Editor

  McGinn Elementary School in Scotch Plains has kicked off this school year strong with both county-wide and national recognition of achievement.

  The school has been named a National Blue Ribbon school, which is a program started by the U.S. Department of Education in 1982 to recognize outstanding public and non-public schools. 

  Schools are measured by student achievement, with the most high-performing schools showing an ability to effectively close the achievement gap between student groups. These schools then provide a national example for educational standards.

  “McGinn and all of our district schools have worked so closely together to provide high-performing, nurturing learning environments where diversity and inclusion of our students, staff, and community are both celebrated and a common goal,” McGinn principal Sasha Slocum said. “From such collaboration and shared purpose, schools thrive.”

  The achievement doesn’t stop there—first grade teacher Candice Testa has also recently been named the Union County Teacher of the Year for the 2022-2023 school year.

  This award is part of the New Jersey Governor’s Educator of the Year program which annually recognizes exemplary teachers on a state and county level. 

  Testa has been teaching in SPF for the past 20 years, having transferred to McGinn in 2010 after teaching at School One, another elementary school in the district.

  “I have always led my instruction and classroom culture by the philosophy of meeting each child where they are at, both academically and emotionally, and then helping them to grow and meet their fullest potential,” Testa said. “The overall goal is that students are happy and confident at school. With that, they are able to learn at their best.”

  With this immense academic acknowledgment having happened so soon in the school year, it can only be hoped that the SPF school district has much more success to come. “I love being part of a district where the superintendent, the Board of Education, and our families support what I do and what my colleagues do,” Slocum said. “That is what fosters great schools.”