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Collins Kindergarten Teacher is Hall of Famer

The Livingston Education Foundation will honor a Grammy winner, TV producer, lawyer and teacher at Homecoming events.

Greer Gelman is a Livingston Public School teacher who epitomizes the simple credo that all we really need to know we learned in Kindergarten.

The poem is posted in part with her classroom rules: Share everything. 

Play fair. 

Don't hit people. 

And found in the warm smiles and encouraging words she spreads among her students.  During a visit on Picture Day, one of Miss Gelman’s littlest learners, a boy named Mitchell, remarked that he liked his friend’s smile.

“He’s nice to everyone. He plays with everyone,” Gelman observed. “I tell him every day that’s the most important thing to learn.” 

These are lessons Gelman must have aced as a student at Livingston Public Schools. She’s been teaching for 15 years and is involved in a variety of community groups, including inviting other teachers and schools to join her in a fundraiser for cancer research called Cycle for Survival.

Tonight, the Livingston Education Foundation will honor her as one of the newest members of the LHS Hall of Fame, an award that came as a surprise to one of Livingston’s finest teachers.

“Why me?” she asked. “I didn’t win a Grammy?” No Grammy, but Gelman’s a rock star to her students. “She’s a very kind teacher,” said Sienna, another of Miss Gelman’s little learners at Collins. “She takes good care of us. I love her and I hug her all the time.” 

Gelman’s very first class graduated college last year. “They’re off on their careers and grad school,” she said as this year’s kindergarteners transitioned from a lesson on the letter N to centers with pattern blocks, Play-Doh and beads.

“You’ve visited at a very good time because you just saw us use our sight words to write a sentence.” Three other Livingston graduates will be honored by the Livingston Education Foundation. And one did actually win a Grammy. They’ll be meeting with LHS students during the day and honored at an evening reception.

This year’s honorees are Brandon Bodow, a producer at ABC’s Good Morning America; Jeffrey D. Dollinger, a leading residential real estate attorney in New Jersey; and Stephen Oremus, the music director, vocal arranger and co-orchestrator of The Book of Mormon, for which he received the 2011 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Orchestrations. He received a 2012 Grammy award as a producer of The Book of Mormon original Broadway cast recording. 

Two members of the Livingston education community will be also honored for their Leadership in Educational Achievement and Dedication -- Ralph Celebre, retired Principal at Hillside Elementary School; and Fraida Yavelberg, retired District Supervisor of Special Education.

At Collins, where Bodow’s mother Michelle Bodow is the school’s gifted and talented teacher, Miss Gelman was kneeling beside a student sorting shapes into patterns.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“A square,” her little learner answered.

“What’s special about a square?”

“Four equal sides,” the boy answered without missing a beat.

Just one of the life lessons Miss Gelman has taught. Plus that warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

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