Mr. Mirabito and Ms. White Named THS Governor’s Educators of the Year


Shira Oelsner and Jacqueline Kim

On November 15, Mr. Mirabito and Ms. White were named THS Governor’s Educators of the Year. The award acknowledges educators who have gone above and beyond in their educational services. This past year, the title worked especially to recognize teachers who were able to overcome the difficulties of a hybrid-COVID school year with attitudes of innovation and compassion. Mirabito and White’s dedication to adapt to the new realities of learning helped make the last year truly worthwhile.


Mr. Mirabito

Mr. Mirabito, who has been at THS for nine years, teaches US history, European History, and Contemporary Issues and Leadership. During his Period 7 Contemporary Issues class, Principal Morrison asked to use his classroom phone. Thinking nothing of his request, Mirabito carried on with the class when Morrison unexpectedly announced to the school that he had won Governor’s Educator of the Year. Mirabito was shocked to find his supervisor, the Superintendent of Schools, and the Assistant Superintendent of Schools outside his classroom to congratulate him on his outstanding efforts in education.

In addition to his passion for teaching history, Mirabito, otherwise referred to as “Bito” by his players, holds a major role in Tenafly’s community and athletics programs. As the Head Coach of the Junior Varsity Boys Soccer and Junior Varsity Girls Basketball teams, the Class Advisor for the Class of 2024, and the play-by-play announcer for the Tenafly Football games, he has long been appreciated for his efforts to connect with Tenafly students outside of the classroom. To him, striving to immerse oneself in environments beyond school is essential to grow both as a student and a person. “I believe that there are so many ways for a person to shine and show who they really are, and not every student shows who they really are in a classroom,” Mirabito said. “Sometimes, you get to know the real person when you see them doing the things they enjoy the most.” Furthermore, his endeavors to get involved in the Tenafly community have helped him immensely in better understanding his students. “I am able to foster better relationships with my students because I know them outside the classroom too,” he said. “So, when they’re in the classroom, we develop a mutual trust and respect for one another that we [then use to] elevate each other’s performance.” 

Alex Yanowitz (’23) met Mirabito her freshman year when he coached her in basketball, and she has looked up to him ever since. “As a coach, he really gets to know his players and understands how they think, so that he can give the best feedback for each individual player,” Yanowitz said. “Everything he says is so constructive and has a purpose. There’s a reason he was voted Educator of the Year.”  Rylie Theuerkauf (’23) also highlighted Mirabito’s coaching talent: “He always [gives] great, inspirational speeches and he pushes us to be the best team and players we can be.” 

Like many teachers, Mirabito was also burdened with the struggles of hybrid-learning, and the connection he had always had with his students grew difficult to maintain in the digital world. Since the classes he teaches center on current events and controversial subjects, many learning simulations he would often conduct in class were nearly impossible to transfer over to Zoom. “It just [didn’t] have the same magic of presenting an argument in front of a class, in front of your peers,” Mirabito said. “So, we lost that excitement element.”

 But Mirabito was fortunate to have already familiarized himself with technology years prior to the pandemic. From the very outset of his career here at Tenafly, he has utilized programs like Socrative in his daily lessons, so that each student can feel comfortable contributing to class discussions. Even before enduring the tumultuous times of virtual school, he believed that the best teaching is a perfect balance between digital and physical. “I think it takes a lot of bravery in life to be different, and when I first got to Tenafly, I was using a lot of student-oriented technology that hadn’t been previously introduced to the school,” Mirabito said. Thus, when schools abruptly shut down, his transition to virtual learning was less cumbersome, and he was able to share his unique skill set with his colleagues. He recounted the Friday when teachers returned to school for the last time to gather necessary materials and create virtual lesson-plans. He felt honored to be in a position where his understanding of technology shone through, deeming this moment as his “chance to help everybody.” 

In another role, as Class Advisor, Mirabito cherishes embarking on the four-year journey with a class and contributing to the rites of passage that make up high school. When he was a new teacher at THS, he took on this role for the Class of 2018, which was particularly special because he experienced his first years at Tenafly with students who were also new to the environment. Ever since, he has been attached to this rewarding position that gives him the opportunity to further connect with and serve as a guide for the student body. “The more people you know in the place that you work, the better, because you feel more of a connection to it and you have more reasons to be a part of it,” Mirabito said. Thus, when the Class of 2018 graduated, he missed the job and stepped up to advise the Class of 2024. Grace Chung (’24), his Class President, has been working with Mirabito for two years and notes his determination and true appreciation for what he does. “He puts the officers and our events as a priority while [simultaneously running] a million other extracurriculars,” Chung said. “Mr. Mirabito is not only a great teacher, but he’s an amazing advisor as well as a nice person to rant to about student life. No one deserves the Educator of the Year award more than him.” 

 Now that school is back in person, he continues to value the connection he forms with his students and colleagues that was so suddenly swept away by the pandemic. “I hope everyone [now] has an appreciation for what school is, and [an] appreciation for togetherness and being in an environment with people and feeding off their energy,” Mirabito said.


Ms. White

Ms. White is the Learning Disabilities Teacher/Consultant for Tenafly High School and works to support students with learning disabilities by developing programs suited to each student’s needs. She has been in education for a total of 25 years, and has worked in Tenafly High School for the last 16 years.

This November, White was awarded the Educational Services Professional of the Year at THS as a result of her astounding work, especially throughout the past year’s challenges regarding the pandemic. Through the obstacles of virtual-hybrid learning and newly implemented COVID procedures, White managed to maintain a sense of closeness and intimacy with her students despite the distance. By communicating through countless emails and numerous Google Meets meetings with students and parents alike, White was able to continue extending her hand to her students, especially as the world was submerged into a new realm of learning. “We got through it as a school, and the kids were great,” White said. “I thought colleagues, parents—we all—had to just look outside and say, ‘This is a real thing,’ and we have to make the best of it.”

White’s success as a Learning Disabilities Consultant stems from her true devotion to the cause. “It’s always been a passion of mine ever since middle school,” White recalled. She entered the special education field late into her college career after dabbling in business, finally deciding that she must pursue education. Although her journey into the education field was delayed, her ultimate aspiration to support students with special needs made its way into her work, and White continues to make an impact in the THS learning community today. “I ended up following that dream, and here I am 25 years later.”

Now, White continues to work to return a sense of normalcy to her students following a year of relative disconnect. “We, as professionals here in the building, and I’m sure nationwide, did the best we could do to try to make [the transition back to school] as seamless as possible when we came back,” White said. And while the challenges of the past school year were undeniably present, White’s services to THS are equally irrefutable, as recognized by her title as Educational Services Professional of the Year. 

Upon receiving the award, White recalls her first reaction. “The first word that comes to mind is… humbled. I was actually shocked when they came in and presented [the award] to me,” White said. “But what I said to the superintendent is, what I do is, I work for kids who can struggle at times… And this is not work for me, so to speak, because it’s natural and I love what I do.” To White, the award was simply an encouragement in her journey as a passionate educational service provider in a time of difficulty. “It is a joy to be able to help kids and to level the playing fields so they have the same access to a fair education as other students.”