A Princeton University degree in comparative literature gave her mastery of her subject, said former Southern Regional High School English teacher Sarah Tantillo, 47. But it didn’t prepare her to be a teacher.

“I went straight into the classroom,” said Tantillo, who grew up in North Beach in Long Beach Township, graduated from Southern Regional in 1983 and took the alternate route to teaching.

“I knew the content. But how do you facilitate discussion of ‘Macbeth’ with 30 teenagers?” she said. “It was a steep learning curve,” especially with struggling readers.

She got a graduate degree in education from Harvard, and studied fiction writing at Johns Hopkins, but kept returning to Southern Regional. After the state charter school law passed in 1996, she left to start the New Jersey Charter School Resource Center and later the NJ Charter Public Schools Association. She also helped Newark’s high-performing North Star Academy Charter School open a high school.

Tantillo, who lives in Belmar, Monmouth County, but summers on Long Beach Island, felt ready to help others with research-based teaching materials.

The result is “The Literacy Cookbook,” published in November by Jossey-Bass and illustrated by friend Sandy Gingras, of Holgate in Long Beach Township, herself an author and owner of two How to Live stores on Long Beach Island.

The two met more than 20 years ago when Tantillo taught an adult writing class in Stafford Township.

“She’s an excellent teacher,” Gingras said. “I was about 30 years old and hadn’t written a thing.” Now she has written almost 30 books, many about beach living.

Artist honored

Spragg School second grader TaShawn Forbs, of Egg Harbor City, was honored at a recent city council meeting for his artwork.

Forbs’s self-portrait was chosen to represent New Jersey in the 2012 Very Special Arts’ International Art Program for Children with Disabilities exhibit “Je Suis...Yo Soy...I Am” in Washington, D.C. For this year’s contest rules, go to: www.artsonia.com/yosoy/express.

Pray for the Johns

Major Thomas Pierce, head of the Salvation Army in Atlantic City, is promoting Pray for the Johns Day today. Participants pray for men who sexually exploit others to find the strength to stop.

Pierce said human trafficking for sex increases around major sporting events, such as Super Bowl Sunday. Visit prayforthejohns.org.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


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