Mariann Zema has worked as a speech and language specialist in East Brunswick for twenty seven years. In 1992, Mariann was the recipient of the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Teacher at Lawrence Brook School. In 1993, Mariann played an instrumental role in starting East Brunswick’s Speech/Language Program for students who are on the autistic spectrum. For the past twenty-three years, Mariann’s caseload has mainly consisted of students on the autism spectrum. Her passion to understand her students was the catalyst for her to establish a home program in other communities to improve the lives of individuals with autism and their families. For twenty years, three nights a week, Mariann provided a total home-based program designed to teach functional life skills. In 2002, Mariann was the recipient of the Autism New Jersey/COSAC Teacher of the Year Award for her dedication to individuals with autism and their families both in East Brunswick and in other communities. For the past thirteen years, Mariann has been at the helm of organizing East Brunswick’s district-wide Denim Day for Autism Awareness. During the month of April, building representatives from each school give generously of their time to assist Mariann in informing the community about how we can ensure safe and fulfilling lives fr individuals with autism, their families and the professionals who support them. The proceeds from this event are shared equally with Autism New Jersey and the East Brunswick Education Foundation. Throughout the years Mariann has actively pursued EBEF grants to assist her in providing new and stimulating materials for her speech and language sessions. Mariann has often said that a grand bag of tricks is required to provide therapy that is effective, stimulating, and fun!
Over the years, EBEF grants have provided such materials. Mariann and her colleagues have received grants that have helped students with receptive/expressive language, auditory processing, phonological awareness skills, apraxia, vocabulary, and social skills. Mariann describes how she feels about the EBEF with a quote from the French philosopher, Voltaire: Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. Mariann shows her commitment to the EBEF by attending the Fall Fashion Show and several times has read a book at the Barnes & Noble Book Fair, where a percentage of all sales are donated to benefit the EBEF. All of the time spent helping others would not have been possible without the help of her husband Leonard. While managing his own painting business, he has always been supp ortive, caring and a wonderful cook! They have been married for 38 years and have three sons. Their son Nicholas provides social media support to small businesses as an independent sales/marketing rep. for MaxExposure. Lenny Jr. works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is married to Rosaria who works in Human Resources at Pearson. Michael is a Manager of Analyst Relations for Amdocs and is married to Jennifer Zema, a Speech and Language Specialist in our district. The newest edition to the Zema family is William Joseph born to Jenny and Michael on August 17, 2015.