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Outstanding Educators

Christine Bass has been a vocal music teacher at Cherry Hill High School West for the past 22 years.  As Director of Choral Activities she has developed a nationally recognized, award-winning program at the school.

Her life-long love of choral music began at the age of four when she joined the Cherub Choir at First Presbyterian Church in Flint, Michigan. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Westminster Choir College where she studied conducting and was a member of the Westminster Choir.  She has since received their distinguished Alumni Merit and Alumni Ambassador Awards.

Ms. Bass has been named to “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” and “Who’s Who of American Women”. In 1996, she was named New Jersey MENC Master Music Teacher and received the Governor’s Award in Arts Education. She has served as guest conductor and clinician presenting workshops for the New Jersey Education Association, New Jersey Music Education Association, American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and Westminster Choir College. She conducted the 1996 All South Jersey and 2002 New Jersey State Chorus, the 2009 ACDA All National High School Chorus and the 2010 South Carolina Women’s All State.  She has served on the NJACDA Board as the Repertoire and Standards Chair for Male Choirs. Under her direction, the men’s a cappella group at Cherry Hill HS West, Men of Note, are three time Grand Champions of the International Championship of High School A Cappella. Her choirs have performed at the 1999, 2003 and 2005 ACDA National Convention, 2001 Music Educators National Conference and 2004, 2010 ACDA All Eastern Conventions.

“What an inspiration she has been to the students, parents and the Cherry Hill community,” says Cherry Hill HS West parent, Deborah Samuels. 

Mary Jane Chambers is a recipient of the National Liberty Museum “Teacher as Hero” Award for 2010.  “After 25 years of service as a Social Studies teacher, Ms. Chambers remains as dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic about teaching as ever.  She is knowledgeable about her subject matter and exudes a passion for American History like no other. She deeply cares about each and every student that walks into her classroom,” says Gail Shelly, Supervisor of Social Studies and World Languages for the Black Horse Pike Regional School District.

At Triton High School in Runnemede, Ms. Chambers has developed the US History I Honors and AP US History II courses to meet the highest standards of best practice and preparation for the Advanced Placement test.  Ms. Chambers’ students consistently score amongst the highest in South Jersey on the AP US History test. 

“She challenges her students to achieve beyond their own expectations, and they do,” adds Ms. Shelly. “Ms. Chambers does not just teach the elite students at Triton High School, she teaches those most in need and those most ‘at risk’ as well. She serves as the Peer Mediation coordinator for the school. She teaches respect, fairness, compassion and ethics in every lesson she delivers.” 

Ms. Chambers was recognized as “Teacher of the Year” at Triton for 2006-2007.  

Educator, public official, human rights activist, community volunteer — these are just some of the roles that Freeholder Riletta L. Cream has played in her lifetime of dedicated service. She retired in January 2011 from the Camden County Board of Freeholders.

A native of Camden City, Freeholder Cream has devoted her time, talents and energy to improving the educational system in her community. A graduate of Glassboro State College (Rowan University) and Temple University, Freeholder Cream was a teacher, supervisor and elementary school principal until her appointment as principal of Camden High School in 1972.

She retired from that post in 1987, after devoting 37 years and 8 months of her life to the children of Camden. Freeholder Cream has continued to give to the children of Camden City with the establishment of her scholarship fund in 1989. She expanded her scholarship to include all four high schools. One student from Camden, Woodrow Wilson, Brimm Medical Arts and Creative Arts High Schools are now recipients of a $1,000 scholarship from the Riletta L. Cream Scholarship Fund, Inc.  In 2011, she will expand the reach of her scholarship fund into other communities in Camden County as well.

After retiring from Camden High School, Freeholder Cream became an administrator for the BPUM, Inc. Day Care Centers located in Camden City. Then, continuing in her most cherished role as an educator, she became an Adjunct Professor and Supervisor of Student Teachers at Rowan and Rutgers Universities.

In 1994, she was appointed to the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders. She was re-elected four times to that position. In her capacity as Freeholder, she served as liaison to the Department of Buildings and Operations, as well as the Department of Education.

Under the Department of Education, she was responsible for Camden County College, Camden County Technical Schools, Camden County Library System, Camden County Cultural and Heritage Commission, and the Camden County Superintendent of Schools.

Freeholder Cream has had many accomplishments on the Freeholder Board.  Major initiatives included the restoration of Camden City Council Chambers, the renovation of Kennedy Plaza, and the continued improvement and upgrading of county buildings, especially those located in the county seat. In her quest to beautify the city, she incorporated public artwork in many of these projects.

Freeholder Cream is committed to the county's educational initiatives by implementing such projects as the construction of new libraries, including the South County Regional Branch in Winslow Township and the Ferry Avenue Branch of the Camden City Library System which, this year, has become part of the County Library System, with many upgrades for Camden City residents.

She led the Tech 2000 Program, which put computers in every classroom, supplied distance learning equipment and provided technological training for teachers.

Camden County College has seen continued expansion with the opening of the William G. Rohrer Campus in Cherry Hill and the Technology Center at the Camden Campus. The Blackwood Campus of Camden County College is currently undergoing an $83 million expansion.

Along with Freeholder Cream's many awards and accolades, too numerous to mention, one demands acknowledgment. On January 3, 1991, the Riletta Twyne Cream Family School opened its doors to the next generation of Camden's children. Named in recognition of her dedication and commitment, the school is a fitting tribute to a woman whose contributions to the education of children have impacted the lives of so many.

Freeholder Riletta L. Cream has lived her life by the philosophy: "Where there is education, there is power".

Jami Evans is a first grade teacher at Cramer Elementary School in Camden, New Jersey. She is a recipient of the National Liberty Museum “Teacher As Hero” Award for 2010.

The “Teacher As Hero” honoree program, sponsored by State Farm®, recognizes outstanding educators for excellence, commitment, leadership, conflict resolution and community service despite today’s challenging circumstances in the school rooms. 

As a teacher, Ms. Evans’ students have gained the highest amount of growth at Cramer Elementary School due to her success with the Action 100 program. Ms. Evans’ students come into her classroom as non-readers, and within a few months, they are able to read fluently. According to her principal, Mrs. Andrea Surratt, “She is a hero to parents, and all the students who struggled with reading before they met her.”

A role model to her colleagues, Ms. Evans has mentored students from Rowan University and, Rutgers University and new teachers to the Camden City Public Schools district. “She is a dedicated professional who always strives to improve her instructional and professional skills,” says Mrs. Surratt.

Long-time Cherry Hill resident, Dr. Jean N. Rances, is an Asian American educator who currently teaches nurses at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Twice nominated for “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers”, Dr. Rances received her master’s degree from The College of New Jersey and her doctorate at Widener University.

Dr. Rances has been an adjunct professor for Immaculata University for six years.  She teaches Research, Composition and Literature courses to adult learners in an accelerated format. Most of Dr. Rances’ students are nurses from New Jersey taking courses in Philadelphia sites like HUP.

“Nurses in the RN to BSN program make up the bulk of her students and generally, they start with great trepidation (English Composition is not among their favorite subject), but end with well-developed writing skills and a deep appreciation for the effort Jean has made on their behalf,” says Dr. Samuel Wrightson, Dean of the College of Life Long Learning at Immaculata.  “This is clearly evident in the repeated comments of gratitude and admiration for her methodology in the anonymous student evaluations at the end of each term. Her teaching style could be best summed up by phrases from her own students, many of whom are nursing supervisors or managers in their jobs: ‘Dr. Rances is inspirational!’; ‘Although she is very tough, she is extremely fair’; ‘Her innate sense of humor and a true passion for teaching has made Dr. Jean Rances an outstanding professional who insists on nothing but excellence’. Jean Rances combines the high standards she expects of her students with the extra help and assistance she provides and that enables all who wish to reach those standards to do so.  She is exceptional,” adds Dr. Wrightson.

 

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