Drew University Alum Recognized for Anti-Bullying Work

Sue Apicella C’02 earned praise and an award from the Anti-Defamation League

July 2021 – Drew University alum Sue Apicella is New Jersey’s 2020-2021 Gold Star Educator. She won the award, presented by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), for her work against bullying.

Apicella, an art teacher and advisor to the Eliminate Racism and Sexism Everywhere (E.R.A.S.E.) Club at Hanover Park High School in Hanover, New Jersey, has helped implement the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” program, earning the school’s efforts a Gold Star from the ADL for six straight years.

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Apicella was one of 20 teachers awarded this year across the nation, and was selected out of 320 nominees representing the New York-New Jersey region.

The goal of the “No Place for Hate” program and E.R.A.S.E. Club is to create a more equitable and inclusive climate at school by teaching and discussing topics like bias, bullying, inclusion, and allyship.

“I was honored to receive the award and be able to use my experiences to help students dealing with bullying at school,” said Apicella. “I turned a very dark and depressing part of my life into a positive by trying to make my school more inclusive. Many classrooms, including my own, are becoming safe places for students to be themselves and seek out teachers for help.”

In reflecting on her influences as a teacher, Apicella noted two particularly influential Drew mentors—art professors Michael Peglau and Raymond Sáa Stein—who inspired her classroom leadership style before she even had plans of teaching herself.

“Michael Peglau gave great advice when I studied under him. He was so patient and humorous. I was always impressed with the way he taught his classes and interacted with students—when you would comment on his work and how impressive it was (is!), he would always turn it around and compliment you on your work.”

Apicella noted she tries to model Peglau’s passion for teaching students, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds, in her own career, and called Peglau’s example the most important lesson she learned at Drew.

“Sue was an outstandingly eager, hardworking, and involved student,” recalled Peglau.

“She was innately generous. I recall well coming upon her and her future husband playing wiffleball on campus while I was with one of my sons, then around eight or nine, who loved baseball. She immediately invited us into their game and made sure my son had a fine time. I knew that generosity of spirit and her openness to mastering new skills in art would make her a superb teacher.”

Of Stein she noted, “I loved how fun he made his sculpture classes. It motivated me to make my own classes fun and have my students look forward to them every day, like I always looked forward to his.”

Read more about Apicella and her work in her ADL educator spotlight here.

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