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Kaiden, Drs. Ellen and Jeffrey Urban Educator Scholarship

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Ellen Kaiden, Ed.D. established the Drs. Ellen and Jeffrey Kaiden Urban Educator Scholarship at the Ramapo College Foundation in 2005. Ellen Kaiden is a professor of Reading and Education in the School of Social Science and Human Services. Her husband Jeffrey is an ophthalmologist practicing in Westwood, NJ. The intent of the Kaiden Scholarship is to recognize students who see the value in promoting education among urban populations and encourage them to pursue a career teaching in an urban environment.

Ellen Kaiden has been involved with Ramapo’s Teacher Education program for many years. In 1990 she secured a federal grant to create the Student Literacy Corps course, a program which continues to this day. The Student Literacy Corps course educates Ramapo students about illiteracy, provides them with the tools to remediate this problem and includes a required service- learning component in an urban Bergen or Passaic County school.

  • For teacher education students who have completed the Student Literacy Corps course
  • For students who will complete student teaching in an urban area, Paterson preferred
  • Recipient selected by the Director of the Teacher Education in consultation with the faculty.

This scholarship is not awarded through the application process.

2022 Recipient

Lisa Petrigliano Montany

Lisa Petrigliano Montany raised her family of two girls, ages 17 and 22, in her Maywood, N.J. home. After a 30 year absence, Lisa returned to complete her degree in Elementary Education and proudly achieved a 4.0 GPA in her first semester back. 

She currently works with the Maywood Recreation Department to develop and implement programs for children, adults and senior citizens.

2021 Recipient

Kiana Azcona

Kiana Azcona of Somerset, N.J. is a double major in English-Literary Studies and Spanish Language Studies. A student of the Teacher Education program, she is currently student-teaching at Bergen Charter High School. 

Kiana is a Resident Assistant, Peer Facilitator, and the Chief of Staff for the Student Government Association. She is also involved in the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Humanities and Global Studies. Over the summer, Kiana worked as a Supplemental Instructor for the Educational Opportunity Fund program. 

Her dedication and commitment to on-campus leadership was recognized in 2019 when she received the “Outstanding Leadership by a Sophomore” award, given by the college’s Student Leadership Committee.

After her anticipated May 2021 graduation, Kiana aspires to become a secondary education teacher and further her education with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership.

2020 Recipient

Christina Gieselmann

Christina Gieselmann of Ridgewood, N.J. is a Mathematics Major with a Concentration in Education. She has a 3.45 GPA and has been on the Dean’s List for seven consecutive semesters.

At Ramapo, Christina is a member of the Future Teachers at Ramapo Club, and volunteers for the NJCEC Conference.

“I’m very proud of my position as the Center Director of Mathnasium in Teaneck, N.J., where I started working as an instructor to help pay my tuition, but the job has turned into so much more.” Christina and her boss worked together to grow the center from 42 to 75 students. She created over 110 individualized learning plans to help struggling students understand mathematics in a way that makes sense to them. In particular, she helped one student move from a 3rd grade mathematics level to get on track to a 5th grade mathematics level. “Helping young students understand mathematics is a passion of mine.”

Christina is currently completing her Student Teaching at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, N.J. “I find it fulfilling, and enjoy finding ways to make mathematics relevant to the students’ lives.” After completing her Student Teaching and earning her New Jersey 6-12 Mathematics Teacher Certification, Christina plans to stay at John F. Kennedy High School to teach mathematics in the 2020-2021 school year.

2019 Recipient

Alyssa Marie Colella

Alyssa Marie Colella is a Psychology major with a concentration in Education. She is from Pompton Plains, N.J and has a 3.2 GPA.  Prior to transferring to Ramapo, she was enrolled in an education class at County College of Morris that required her to obtain a job in daycare. While forming an unforgettable bond with her children, Alyssa learned how to develop her own theme-based curriculum, maintained daily communication with parents, executed her own classroom routines, and learned the significance of classroom management.

“I want my students to love coming to school just as much as I love being there with them, and I want to help them in discovering their own passions, just like they have helped me discover mine.”

Alyssa has also been involved with the Special Olympics Track Race held at Ramapo, as well as the Special Olympics Bocce Ball Tournament held in Wayne, N.J.

2018 Recipient

Sean Corbley

This semester Sean Corbley is student teaching at an urban school in Hackensack, N.J. “Every day I am there I learn as much as my students do.” While he finds the work challenging, he says the experience reminds him of why he decided to pursue a teaching career: to make a difference.

Sean is a History major, and in the Teacher Education Program. He is also a member of the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, and has a 3.55 GPA.

He is from Lacey Township, N.J.

2018 Recipient

David Neifeld

David Neifeld served for two years in the Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County, Florida. “I tutored at-risk students, to help them get back on grade level in reading. I also taught a night class to adult immigrants looking to improve their English.” During over 22 months of service with AmeriCorps, David totaled over 3300 hours of community service.

He is a post baccalaureate student in the Teacher Education Program and attends Future Teachers at Ramapo events on campus. David has a cumulative GPA of 3.55, and earned Dean’s List status for the Spring 2017 semester. After completing student teaching, David plans to start his career as a certified teacher. “I hope to make a difference in each of my student’s lives.”

He is from Rhinebeck, N.Y.

2017 Recipient

Joseph DePierro

Joseph DePierro of Ridgefield, NJ is a Communication Arts major with a concentration in digital film making. He made Dean’s list in the spring of 2015.

Joseph has been active in several organizations, including Kappa Sigma Fraternity, where he was involved in “Buzz Away Cancer” which raises money as well as awareness for Leukemia and Lymphoma.

Joseph has also been involved in off-campus activities, including JCC on the Palisades which has held multiple dances and other activities for those with special needs.

“I’m proud of the fact that I’m following my dreams and I won’t let anything hold me back,” said Joseph.  Post-graduation, Joseph hopes to find a job that he enjoys so he can take care of those who have taken care of him.

2016 Recipient

Lauren Schmidt

Lauren Schmidt of Emerson, NJ is a Biology major and a member of the teacher certification program. She has a 3.941 GPA. Lauren was inducted into Beta Beta Beta, Kappa Delta Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Golden Key International Honor Society.

Lauren has been involved in the Ramapo College Honors Program, the Ramapo Chorale, and the Music Club,  She is also a valued lab assistant in the Biology department.  In addition, through Leaders in Service, she has helped incoming freshmen transition to college life and worked with peers on local civic engagement projects.

Lauren interned at the Meadowlands Environment Center in Lyndhurst, NJ and worked as a Summer Teaching Fellow at North Star Academy College Preparatory High School in Newark, NJ. She currently works as a Campus Ambassador for Uncommon Schools.  In the fall 2016, she will be teaching 9th grade biology at North Star Academy.

“I believe the best way to promote stewardship of the environment is through education and appreciation.”



2014 Recipient

Vincent Lehman

Vincent Lehman of Nutley, NJ is a Psychology major who is pursuing teacher certification in Early Childhood Education. In selecting Vincent, Dr. Ellen Kaiden said: “Vinnie is exactly the type of student that my husband and I wanted to recognize when we started this scholarship.” Vincent successfully completed the Student Literacy Corps course and did his field work at P.S. 28 in Paterson, NJ. Dr. Kaiden explained that his methods of tutoring literacy are highly creative and motivating. As an example, Vincent encouraged a fourth grader to write rap poetry, which resulted in engaging tutoring sessions and lively poems. The professor and Vincent presented his work, along with the Student Literacy Corps mission and goals, at a paper presentation to the Association for Literacy Researchers and Educators in Richmond, VA. He was the only undergraduate student to have this distinction at the prestigious professional conference. Vincent continued as a volunteer tutor at P.S. 28 after he completed the Student Literacy Corps course. This past academic year, he student taught at an elementary school in Paterson. “He has a bright career ahead, and he will be a tremendous asset to the school that hires him,” said Kaiden. Vincent has a 3.65 grade point average.

I am touched by the kindness, inspiration, and support that the Kaiden family has given. I want to extend a tremendous thank you to them.

2013 Recipient

Colleen Linares

Colleen Linares is a senior majoring in Psychology who has also completed the Business Essentials Certification program. She was recommended for this award by the faculty in the teacher education program who noted that she will be student teaching in Paterson, NJ during the spring 2013 semester. Colleen is from Point Pleasant Borough, NJ and has earned a 2.90 grade point average.

2012 Recipients

Jacqueline Katz

Jacqueline Katz of Red Bank, NJ is a Biology major and a Chemistry minor. She is also pursuing teacher certification in Secondary Education. On campus she is co-chair of the Relay for Life Planning Committee, co- sponsor and chair of the Biology Club, a member of the Dance Club, and a Ramapo Admissions Student Ambassador. “This scholarship will assist me in achieving my goal of teaching Biology/Chemistry in an urban school district.” Jacqueline, who has a 4.00 grade point average, also plans to attend graduate school to study Molecular Genetics.

Alexa Chin

Alexa Chin is a senior majoring in Mathematics. She is completing coursework toward teacher education certification in Mathematics as well, and has earned a cumulative 3.09 grade point average. “Alexa is a rising star in urban education instruction,” says Dr. Ellen Kaiden. Alexa is from Tenafly, NJ.

2011 Recipient

Zoe Scoullos

“Currently I am working as a permanent English substitute teacher (pending hire) at the HARP Academy in Paterson, NJ where I completed my student teaching,” reports Zoe Scoullos. Zoe is taking courses toward teacher certification in English and has a 3.44 grade point average. She has been involved with Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honors society. “I have the privilege of working with high school sophomores at all educational and developmental levels,” she continues. Zoe is from Paramus, NJ.

2010 Recipient

Lisa Wallin

Lisa Wallin is majoring in Biology while pursuing teacher certification, also in Biology. Lisa is from Norwood, NJ and is in her senior year. She has earned a 3.37 grade point average. For the past three years Lisa has been a volunteer EMT in her hometown and on the Ramapo College EMS. She works at a local animal shelter. Last summer she worked as a biology assistant and teacher for Ramapo’s Upward Bound program. “I’m currently student teaching at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson,” Lisa reports. “My career goal is to teach in the more overlooked, urban areas.”

This scholarship has supported and increased my motivation to not only teach in urban areas, but to truly make a difference in the academic environment.

2009 Recipient

Xiomara Robinson

Senior Xiomara Robinson is majoring in psychology at Ramapo while pursuing teacher certification in elementary education. She has earned a 3.38 grade point average. Xiomara is from Paterson, New Jersey and completed her field work for the Student Literacy Corps in her home town. “She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children,” says professor Ellen Kaiden. “She understands the need to be both a mentor and a teacher to students who may not have a guiding academic force in their lives.” Xiomara will be doing her student teaching this spring in the fifth grade at PS 27 in Paterson. At Ramapo Xiomara was president of the student club Ebony Women for Social Change, and is currently coordinating the annual fashion show. She also teaches a dance class at a local community center in her town.

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