You are the owner of this article.

OceanFirst Bank representatives attend ribbon cutting for Hess classroom

Ocean First-Hess

Students, teachers, school district officials and OceanFirst Bank representatives gathered at the ribbon cutting for the George L. Hess Educational Complex's mindful, trauma-informed, responsive model classroom, which a bank foundation grant funded.

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — On Wednesday, May 23, representatives from OceanFirst Bank came to the George L. Hess Educational Complex for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the model classroom.

In October 2018 the OceanFirst Foundation gave the school a $10,000 grant to develop a mindful, trauma-informed, responsive model classroom. Marylynn Stecher, Hamilton Township School District Supervisor of Special Education, wrote the grant application with assistance from general education teacher and Hamilton Township Education Association President Amy Gold.

Gold and special education teacher Kim Smith worked collaboratively to implement the grant. Smith is the Hess School Teacher of the Year.

During the ceremony, Stecher thanked the representatives from OceanFirst, saying, “The OceanFirst Model Classroom Grant has been and will continue to be a huge benefit to the entire Hess School. Our district commitment to educating the whole child has been brought to life via our mindful, trauma-informed, responsive model classroom. When I first had the idea for this classroom, I could never have predicted what an amazing job Mrs. Gold and Mrs. Smith would do in making this vision a reality. They are outstanding educators! And of course, the catalyst for creating this wonderful, unique learning environment has been the OceanFirst Foundation. ... This classroom incorporates flexible seating, a calming corner, and teachers educated in mindfulness practices to ensure that all students are able to learn in a setting that meets their needs.

"The creation of the learning environment with flexible seating and a calming corner, in conjunction with the use of mindfulness practices, has allowed the teachers to better support our students, many of whom are dealing with trauma and significant social and emotional issues in their daily lives. It was important to us to create a setting in which special education students are included and we feel that this setting will allow us to keep more students in a less restrictive environment as it better meets their social, emotional and behavioral needs. Additionally, by meeting the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of our students, we are able to see increased academic success.”

The students welcomed the visitors to the classroom and had prepared a video sharing their favorite parts of the model classroom. Students were also able to share some information about how the mindfulness classes help them to be calm and focus on learning.

Also at the ceremony were Edward Geletka, senior vice president, retail sales team lead, business development, OceanFirst Bank; Brenda Flaherty, government banking administrator AVP, business development, OceanFirst Bank; Frank Vogel, township schools superintendent; Melanie Lamanteer, Hess School principal; and Anne-Marie Fala, school district business administrator.

Load comments



Submit all material to


  • Include the complete name of the group, school or other organization; where it’s located and what area it serves; the name and title, if applicable, of the person submitting the information; a person to contact with questions and whether the contact is only for us or for the public as well.
  • Information should be formatted as little as possible, without tabs or tables.
  • Photos should be high-resolution and emailed as an attachment. Include the names of the people in the photos and, if applicable, any relevant titles or relationships. Indicate how to determine who is who, such as “front row, from left.”


  • Take a picture when you travel of you or your group with one of our weeklies. Send us the picture with names, hometowns and the name of the place you visited.


  • Letters must be fewer than 400 words and received by 9 a.m. Monday for publication the same week.


  • Information to be included in event or trip listings must be submitted online at Scroll down to where it says “Submit an event.” Click on “Go to Form.”
  • You are required to sign in using a username and password. If you have previously made an account, log in using the username and password you created. If you have NOT previously made an account with us, click on “Register Here” (under the Sign In button).
  • Once you have created a username and password, you will be taken to the calendar form. Fill out the form with the relevant information. Please remember that less is best for calendar listings. Note: If you include a website, it must be the full address. For example,, not