Spotlight Shines on Yasso: Support Staff of the Year honor goes to Michele Yasso
Mrs. Michelle Yasso sat with the Maroon and Gray on January 9th and was interviewed after winning Support Staff of the Year as part of the Governor’s Educator of the Year Program. She described her occupation as a member of the child study team, supporter of students with difficulties, and an evaluator for the students. However, in others' eyes she is so much more. Mrs. Yasso is there for the students to support them through anything they may be dealing with; school related or not, gets to know the students on a personal level beyond their school work, and truly cares about each and every student and their future.
Mrs. Yasso is a Nutley High alumni and a Seton Hall University graduate. From the start of her adulthood, she was certain she wanted to inspire people and help them. She began her college journey with a major in nursing, but soon realized it was not her calling. She then sat down and truly pondered upon what she could do with her life. When she chose teaching, she was certain she was following her destined path. “I have always been a shy person throughout my whole life which is why I find it fitting for me to work in a small setting with not many students.” Mrs. Yasso also makes an ideal member of the child study team because her cousin has special needs. “Being around my cousin almost everyday and creating a very close bond with him truly prepared me for this career.”
Yasso graduated with an IDTC degree along with her Masters degree. Before graduating, she shadowed teachers as an intern and gained three years of teaching experience. She learned so much from her early years teaching in an active classroom.
“The most important aspect in my eyes is providing the student advocacy, self confidence so they can speak up for themselves, and making sure everyone is on the same level.” Mrs. Yasso’s drive for teaching stems from her care for her student’s futures. What is most critical for her, not only as their teacher, but as their role model is that students' peers treat them equally to people without special needs. Yasso explained, “These kids are capable of so much more than they are sought out to be. They are kept from opportunities that are given to ordinary students when they can perform just the same, if not better.” Mrs. Yasso has a lot of faith in these kids and her favorite part of her job is pushing them to success.
Ms. Yasso has been a teacher at NHS for 20 years now and plans on continuing for the next decade. When she does retire from teaching, she says that traveling is her number one priority and her dream for post-NHS. She also aspires to create a business where adults with special needs can work just daily. She hopes to develop a business where they can earn a salary, carry their own responsibilities, and most importantly show others and themselves just how much they are capable of.
After explaining her future plans, the Maroon and Gray truly got to see another, more personal side of Mrs.Yasso. She is more than worthy of winning this award, and deserves the recognition. “Being awarded the Support Staff of the Year, I am speechless, humble, and honored,” Yasso said.