Outstanding Teacher of the Month – August 2021


Our Employee of the Month is Barbara Herzner from Hilltop School in New Jersey. Barb creates super cool theme-filled weeks that the kids and their parents love. Barbara and her Educator, Jeanette Porsello were the first two employees to return to a classroom during the COVID crisis. They had to come up with innovative ideas to address how to teach the children all while social distancing and making masks fun to wear!

Some of Barb’s themes included detective training, most loved books (introducing them and bringing them to life with cool activities) and heading out to outer space. (Some really cool rockets created in that one!)

She has taken on additional duties to help with state inspectors, keeping Apollo aligned with state mandates. With all that on her plate, she still goes out of her way to accommodate the children and parents that have had special requests.

Barbara, thank you for being such an outstanding employee and teacher!

To show our appreciation for your dedication and hard work – please check your email this week for a special gift card.

“We are fortunate as educators that our job brings new challenges every day. We are blessed to hear children laughing or excitedly asking what we have planned for the day. What other job can you have that brings joy to so many children?” – Barbara Herzner

  1. Who are you, where do you come from, where are you going?
Hi, my name is Barbara Herzner, and I am a retired elementary school teacher. Shortly after retiring I realized how much I missed working with children and became an employee of Apollo After School. I began working for Apollo about three years ago as an Educator and I am now Site Director for the program in Hilltop School in New Jersey.  

  1.   What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started teaching?
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned through my years working with children is to take the time to really listen to them and gain their trust.   

  1. How do you motivate your students to succeed?
Giving children a place that feels safe for them to succeed and explore will motivate them to take a chance to attempt something they might not have tried before.

  1. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
My superpower is flexibility. Being an educator you need to be flexible, since things don’t always work out the way you want them to.

  1. What is your most memorable memory from your time as an Apollo instructor?
One of the most memorable events I have had working at Apollo After School is when we had Pirate Week. After a week of talking like a pirate, dressing and even making our own pirate flag, we went on a wild treasure hunt around the playground and finally found the pirate booty.

  1. If you could retire tomorrow and never have to worry about money again, what would you do with your time?
Travel the world!

  1. What’s your go-to technique for dealing with ‘handful students’?
I find giving the “handful students” some extra outside time to run off the built up tension helps alleviate the situation.

  1. What is an unusual place you have been to?
The bottom of a salt mine. The fun part was getting there.

  1. Do you have a talent that not many people know about?
I am an excellent house painter and enjoyed painting many rooms in my house during lock down.

  1. What’s your #1 teaching tip?
My number one teaching tip is to be prepared. I plan out my lessons, collect the materials and prepare everything before the students arrive for aftercare. I also try out new projects beforehand, testing to see if the activity really works before attempting them with our students. I find if I have everything prepared before, it is less stressful on me and I can enjoy working with the students.

  1. What’s your favorite classroom Attention Getter? 
Clapping out a beat with my hands that the students need to follow.

  1. What is something interesting that you’re involved in, outside of Apollo After School?
Besides working at Apollo After School I have other interests. Pre pandemic I volunteered at a historical site, a living museum, Foster Fields, which is a working farm set in the late 1800’s. I laced up my boots and put on my gingham dress and straw hat and gave farm tours to school children on their class field trips. During the pandemic and lock down I enjoyed the opportunity to do some family tree research.  I am also an avid reader and enjoy an eclectic array of reading genres.  

  1. How do you spend your summer breaks?
I spend my summer breaks doing lunch/dinner with friends, taking day trips to explore new locations and enjoy being outside.

  1. Star Wars, Star Trek, or they’re both lame?
Over the years I have enjoyed both Star Trek and Star Wars and enjoy watching the new movies when they come out.        

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