Hello Cedar Mountain Families!

Welcome to the 2022-2023 School Year that is just around the corner! The Cedar Mountain faculty, staff, and I are very excited to begin a new year with your child!

Our highly-skilled and devoted teachers have been planning and preparing for your child to enter Cedar Mountain School. Our very talented office staff, Mrs. O’Keefe, Mrs. Donovan, and Ms. Speight are registering many new families, ordering needed materials, and updating student information in Genesis. Our hard-working and conscientious custodians have spent the entire summer thoroughly cleaning our school. I would like to take a moment to welcome our new Coordinating Custodian, Mrs. Natalia Sandoval, who is eager to get to know our students while ensuring our school is safe, clean, and well cared for.  Our much-appreciated School and Community Association (the SCA) is gearing up to welcome families, provide volunteer opportunities, and offer other exciting events and programs throughout the school year. Cedar Mountain is a caring community with the common goals of nurturing responsible, caring students and promoting high-level learning.


At Cedar Mountain, we will continue with our Response to Intervention/Multi-Tiered Support System model to help students at all learning levels. We will be using data to track students’ progress. Our first-graders will be taking benchmark assessments in the fall, winter, and spring, and our kindergarteners will be taking one assessment at the end of the year so that Cedar Mountain teachers can monitor the progress of each student as he/she develops specific academic skills in the areas of literacy and math.  These benchmark assessments will not be used as a grading instrument; our goal with these benchmarks will be to carefully use the assessment data as a tool for us to determine how we can adjust our instructional practices to meet the needs of our students.  We will continue using the Fountas and Pinnell Baseline Assessment reading test three times throughout the year for first graders and two times a year for kindergarteners. These assessments, as well as our daily teaching and anecdotal notes, checklists, and assessments help guide our teachers when completing the rubric on the Standard-Based Report Card. Please CLICK HERE to access our report card so you will know what your child is expected to know by the trimester. We are also introducing a brand new Language Art series to all K-5 students this year called Into Reading. This program was carefully selected by multiple teachers in the district and it is based on the most current research on how children learn to read; this research is called The Science of Reading. You will be learning more about this throughout the year and the Principal’s Forum as well as various SCA meetings.





Daily Delayed Opening Early Dismissal
9:20 am Students Enter 11:20 am Students Enter 9:20 am Students Enter
3:40 Parent Pick Up 3:40 Parent Pick Up 1:10 Parent Pick Up
4:00 Students Dismissed 4:00 Students Dismissed 1:20 Students Dismissed
4:05 Buses Depart 4:05 Buses Depart 1:25 Buses Depart




Parents that drop off and pick up their child(ren) will be required to park in an available spot in the parking lot OR on Sammis Road and escort their child to either the ramp in the main parking lot or by the front playground. For ease of parking, you are encouraged to park on Sammis Road. Please be aware that Cedar Mountain Primary School does not have the personnel to supervise students who are dropped off early; therefore, students will only be permitted to enter the building at 9:20 AM when students are dismissed from their bus. If you are picking up your child at the end of the school day, students will be dismissed at the front side door at 3:40 pm. As part of our required chain of custody, you must present a proper ID to Mrs. Donovan, who will bring your child (ren) to you. No child will be brought to a parent or a family delegate without proper identification. We appreciate your patience as we get to know all of our families that pick up children.






Each year we are very fortunate to bring on new teachers to our building. Below are the bios of our new faculty members. We welcome Mr. Christopher Cook, Ms. Jamilee Holly, Mrs. Kielty (who will be covering for Mrs. Megnin), Mrs. Courtney Rose, Mrs. Christine Taylor-Eccles, and Mrs. Cara Zimnik



Jamilee Holly:

Ms. Holly graduated from Vernon schools in 2005 and is returning to the community with her daughter this fall. She attended Rider University, graduating in 2009 with Bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and Dance, and again in 2012 with a Master’s degree in Special Education. Ms. Holly has worked in a variety of educational settings, including as a preschool director and as a classroom teacher for K-2 students in Howell, NJ. She enjoys the beach, dancing, and spending time with her family. Ms. Holly cannot wait to join the Cedar Mountain team and work closely with students and families! Ms. Holly will be teaching first grade in room 215 this year.



Christopher Cook:

Chris Cook is excited to get to know the students and families this year as well as to join the Cedar Mountain Primary School family. This is Mr. Cook’s fourth year teaching first grade. Mr. Cook graduated from William Paterson University with a degree in Elementary Education as well as Special Education. Mr. Cook’s passion is making learning fun through hands-on exploration and projects. He enjoys challenging students and meeting them where they’re at, and helping his students persevere through difficult tasks to ensure that they can achieve their goals! Mr. Cook will be teaching first grade in room 211 this year.




Courtney Rose:

Mrs. Rose grew up in Vernon and graduated from Vernon High School in 2004. She attended Sacred Heart University, graduating in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Mrs. Rose later obtained her teaching certifications in Elementary Education and Teacher of Students with Disabilities, as well as a Master’s in Elementary Education in 2014 from Felician University. Since then she has been working in Paterson Public Schools with special education students in grades 1-6. Mrs. Rose is ecstatic to be a part of the Cedar Mountain Family and can’t wait to instill a love for learning in her students. Mrs. Rose currently lives in Vernon with her husband and two-year-old daughter. She enjoys being outside, reading a good book, and spending time with her family. Mrs. Rose will be co-teaching kindergarten this year with Ms. Thomas in room 103.




Christine Taylor-Eccles:

Christine Taylor-Eccles is a lifelong resident of Vernon Township and Alumni of Vernon Township High School, She is very excited to join the Cedar Mountain team as a Kindergarten and First Grade Special Education Teacher. Mrs. Taylor-Eccles attended Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and Information Technology. Mrs. Taylor-Eccles has two children who currently attend the Vernon Township School District. Mrs. Taylor-Eccles’ passion for teaching developed in 2014, when she became an aide. In 2018, she began her education track through Liberty University where she completed a dual Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education and a Master’s Certificate in Autism Education. Mrs. Taylor-Eccles looks forward to her first year as a classroom teacher where she will plan meaningful activities, and create a classroom setting that is both inviting and conducive to each student’s learning style while increasing academic, social, and emotional learning. Mrs. Taylor-Eccles will be teaching K-1 special education in room 201 this year.




Eleanor Kielty:

Mrs. Eleanor attended Kutztown University, where she received her BA in elementary education. She started her teaching career at Hamburg Elementary School.  In her thirteen years there she spent the majority of those teaching first grade and the remainder teaching middle school social studies. Mrs. Kielty stepped out of teaching for a bit to raise her twins, one of the most important jobs she has ever done. When Mrs. Kielty returned to the classroom she had a new respect and understanding of what it means to send your child to school and entrust someone else to their care. Mrs. Kielty has had the unique opportunity to teach in England, as well as, Barnaul Siberia. She returned with a number of life experiences that have certainly affected her and enriched her teaching. As a result, she has received several awards to celebrate her work in the classroom.  She recently returned from five memorable weeks of service work with high school students in Hawaii. Mrs. Kielty loves to travel, backpack in the mountains, and spend time outside with her dogs and her family. Mrs. Kielty will be teaching first-grade in room 209 this fall, filling in for Mrs. Megnin.




Cara Zimnik:

Mrs. Cara Zimnik, our new Speech/Language Pathologist, is looking forward to this upcoming school year and working with all of the wonderful families and students at Cedar Mountain. Mrs. Zimnik received a bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Zimnik has worked with students of varying ages and within multiple school settings and is passionate about the field of Speech-Language Pathology. Mrs. Zimnik is dedicated to providing a supportive environment and fostering meaningful interactions to encourage the growth of new skills and enhance overall communication for students. Mrs. Zimnik spent the majority of her childhood and young adult life in Randolph, New Jersey. After getting married last year, Mrs. Zimnik moved to Vernon. Mrs. Zimnik and her husband have loved exploring all that Vernon has to offer! She is very excited to meet the students at Cedar Mountain and learn all about their goals and hobbies too! Mrs. Zimnik will be one of two Speech and Language Therapists working in room 202 this year.



Natalia Sandoval:

Ms. Natalia Sandoval is Cedar Mountain’s new Coordinating Custodian. Ms. Sandoval was born and raised in Columbia, South America. Ms. Sandoval has a degree in early childhood that she earned in Columbia before coming to the United States. Ms. Sandoval has experience as a Head Custodian in other districts in NJ. Ms. Sandoval is a hardworking individual. She is a very positive and eager to always transmit joy and calm to her working environment.  As a Vernon resident, Ms. Sandoval is very proud to call Cedar Mountain her new home where she leads and collaborates with her fellow custodians implementing best practice techniques of deep cleaning a school of approximately 420 students. Ms. Sandoval is very excited to greet the students of Cedar Mountain and get to know each one! You will see Ms. Sandoval everywhere in our school!




Rhiannon Lubas:

Miss Rhiannon Lubas is currently attending William Paterson University pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. She is very excited to be a student teacher at Cedar Mountain in Mrs. Sweeney’s class this school year! In her free time, Miss Lubas enjoys going to the gym, playing with her five bunnies, or spending time with my family and friends. Miss Lubas am looking forward to meeting everyone, learning about the “art of teaching”, and having an awesome school year! Miss Lubas will be working closely and learning from Mrs. Sweeney in room 102 this year.





Erica Meichsner:

Miss Erica Meichsner is a Senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey earning a Bachelor’s degree in their Social Work program. In addition to being a student at Ramapo College, Miss Meichsner is also the Co-vice President of the Social Work Club where she and her club mates are able to host social events for different causes and connect with peers. Miss Meichsner’s work experience includes lifeguarding at the Highland Lakes Country Club in the summer for the last seven years. This year, Miss Meichsner is serving as Assistant Supervisor at the Highland Lakes Country Club where she leads 50 employees with schedules and day-to-day tasks. In addition to this work, Miss Meichsner teaches swimming lessons where she uses her aquatic training to analyze children’s swimming capabilities and teach them different skills.  Miss Meischsner also serves as a Vernon Township School district substitute; she is looking forward to her internship this fall where she will be shadowing Mrs. Polhemus our MSW on the Child Study Team.



Francesca Amati:

Miss Francesca Amati is a Vernon resident and proud alumni of the Vernon Township School District. She graduated from Centenary University in 2021 with a BA in Elementary Education, earned in conjunction with a CEAS in Elementary Education (K-6) and a Teacher of Students With Disabilities (TOSD) certification. She completed her Practicum and Student Teaching at Hardyston Elementary School in a 3rd-grade classroom, after which she taught 2nd grade as a full-time long-term substitute from January – June 2022. She enjoys reading, coffee, and spending time with her family. Miss Amati will be working with Ms. Jamilee Holly as she covers for Mrs. Erin Brady from October 2022 – February 2023. She is honored and excited to have the opportunity to work in Cedar Mountain, one of the schools where her love of education began! 





Important Reminders for August and September:


As school approaches, below are a few important dates for the month of August and early September to mark on your family calendar. Please note, if you do not have everything satisfied for your child’s registration in Genesis, you will not be able to see your child’s bus number/bus stop and pick up time, or your child’s teacher.


  • August 22nd– The Genesis portal will open to see your child’s teacher name


  • Thursday, August 25th AND Monday, August 29th – Open House 10:00 am- 12:00 pm -on both of these days, Cedar Mountain Primary School will be open for a self-guided tour/visit. Please bring your child, walk the hallways, and help your child locate his or her classroom. Having your child find his or her classroom will ease the first day of school transitions. I will also be available to say hello and meet you and your child.


  • The building will be closed for visits on September 1-2, 2022, in order for our faculty to give its undivided attention to the important work of preparing for the new school year.


  • Back to School Night- Thursday, September 1st as follows:


3:30 pm Kindergarten Back to School Night- Please bring your kindergarten child with you


5:00 pm First Grade Back to School Night- This program is only for parents and guardians- you are kindly requested to please not bring your child


  • First Day of School- Tuesday, September 6th


  • Friday, September 16th– School Spirit Day- Wear your Class of shirt or other Vernon spirit wear


  • Fall Harvest Open House- Saturday, September 17th, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm- come enjoy a light refreshments, tour the building, explore our curriculum in demonstrations throughout various classrooms, experience the computer lab as your child would in computer class, visit our library, learn about our curriculum, and stop at stations from different community organizations. We thank the VTEA for receiving a Pride Grant from NJEA to fund this program!


  • Picture Day- Tuesday, September 20th


  • Principal’s Forum- Wednesday, September 21st, at 6:00 pm, in the cafeteria





Kindergarten Class of 2035 t-shirts: As a reminder to all kindergarten parents, please have your child where his or her Class of 2035 t-shirt on the first day of school. This will be a way to promote school spirit and feel welcome in a new school as a new student. Please contact the office if you did not receive a t-shirt. Your child will have opportunities to wear this shirt on many school spirit days this year. It will also serve as a nice memento for you and your child for years to come.


Please reference the Digital Backpack for important district notices as well as information related to Cedar Mountain. You can also access our Parent Handbook for a lot of other important school information. You can also find a list of suggested school supplies for each grade. The Cedar Mountain website contains all of our school information. The links on the left side of the page have many helpful topics. Many activities for the year are on the Cedar Mountain Calendar, check them out!



I look forward to seeing you for visits in the coming weeks as you prepare for the new school year. If I can help you with any questions about the new year, please do not hesitate to call Cedar Mountain at 973-764-2890 or email me directly at rgebhardt@vtsd.com  Enjoy the end of the summer!



Mrs. Rosemary Gebhardt