Jared Katzman, a freshman at Yale University, says he knew just who to nominate when he got an e-mail from the school last spring regarding its annual award for outstanding high school educators.
The Red Bank Regional grad nominated applied technology teacher Mandy Galante, with whom he spent four years getting to know in the classroom and while traveling to technology competitions. Along the way, Galante became a valuable mentor to her student whose advice he sought on everything from where to apply to school to what language to take studying abroad.
"I felt like the whole reason I got accepted (to Yale) was because of her," Katzman, who's from Little Silver, tells Patch. "Every single time I made a decision, I always needed her seal of approval."
The two found out in the fall that Galante, who was chosen as Teacher of the Year by the county and the high school last year, had been selected out of 274 nominees to receive the 2012 Yale Educator Award.
"I had no idea whatsoever," says Galante, who also lives in Little Silver. "The award came completely out of the blue."
Yale invites matriculating students to nominate high school teachers who have "supported and inspired their students to achieve at high levels," according to its Web site. Galante is one of 50 teachers and 40 counselors to receive the 2012 award.
Galante, who taught Katzman for three years and then served as his coach during his senior year for the school's award-winning CyberPatriot team, says that of all the recognition she's received for her work, this "meant so much."
"It's amazing because kids usually have a hard time looking outside themselves," she says. "I don't mean that to be denigrating, but it's remarkable for an 18-year-old to have that introspection."
With Katzman, now 19, serving as the Cyber Security team's captain last year, Galante says they had "a lot of interactions that were beneficial to both of us."
Katzman, who's majoring at Yale in chemical engineering, says that he admired Galante's ability to speak knowledgeably about everything from the stock market to toys and also for "the way she sees people."
"She takes even unruly or unmotivated students in her classroom and really gets at who they are," says Katzman. "She's not there to fight but to work with you."