Former Teacher Spotlight


Funny you should ask…he stopped by Collier High School a few months ago with his significant other and dance partner, Dorthea.  The two of them are dancing their way through retirement to the sounds of salsa, hip hop music and music from the 50’s through the 90’s.  When he’s not cutting a rug, he belongs to two golf clubs, sometimes playing golf five times a week.  Mr. Hennessey, who currently resides in Garwood, N.J. has a busy schedule since retiring in 2004.  He has four grandchildren and has made time to see his grandson wrestle to 108 victories and watched his granddaughter in the world cheerleading competition in Orlando, Florida.  Life has come full circle as he also gets to watch his son coach Girls’ basketball in Pompton Lakes, N.J.  As some of you may remember, Mr. Hennessey was a girls’ basketball coach in Union County while he was at Collier.

Mr. Hennessey remembers the six years he spent at Collier High School as among the happiest of his life.  He noted that “the attitude of the students was wonderful. It was a fun and comfortable feeling to be with them.”

As Mr. Hennessey was getting ready to leave Collier, he turned around and said, ‘What can I say, I’m a happy guy.”

We wish Mr. Hennessey continued joy and happiness in his retirement. 


Mr. Breen

Mr. Breen stopped by Collier High School recently while attending his grandson's christening in New York. He filled us in on his life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he has been living with his wife and five year old daughter Maddie since 2011.  His wife is a marine scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration where she is working to rebuild the coastline of Louisiana.  Mr. Breen has been quite busy as a free-lance drama director, musical arranger, conductor, guitar player and a home school teacher for his daughter.  Some of his credits include directing To Kill A Mockingbird at the Ascension Parish Community Theater, directing an Irish play called The Weir at the Baton Rouge Irish Club, conducting a musical at Louisiana State University and playing guitar in a New Orleans jazz band called The Wild Irish Roots.

Though he enjoys life in the south, he fondly remembers his fourteen years at Collier High School.  His efforts to formalize our drama department brought about some of his favorite productions which included Man of La Mancha, Dracula, The Laramie Project and Scrooge.

Mr. Breen noted that he was grateful for the opportunity to keep in touch with the Collier alumni through FACEBOOK.  He was impressed with how the they are living their lives and fondly remembers them.  He wanted to say "thank you" to the alumni for making his life better today.

Thank you Mr. Breen for bringing theatrical and musical magic to the stage at Collier High School!


Sr.Kathy began her connection with Collier in 1962 at the Kateri SummerCamp.  For the next couple of summers while she was a student at Georgian Court College, she worked as a volunteer at the camp.  Sr.Kathy graduated college in 1964 with a degree in Mathematics Education. She began teaching at St. Rose High School in Belmar and then in 1966,she entered the Sisters of Mercy. Sr. Kathy taught at several schools thereafter including Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, Mount St. Mary Academy in Watchung, Cathedral High School in Trenton and St. Mary Elementary in Trenton. At age 27, Sr. Kathy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Fast forward to 1981 when Sr. Kathy became a Math teacher at Collier High School until 1985.  She was also Collier's very first computer teacher! She noted, "My years of association with the Good Shepherd Sisters and Collier High School have been an important part of my life experience." Her diagnosis eventually prohibited her from continuing to teach at Collier but it would not stop her spirit.

Sr.Kathy began mouth painting in 1992 with the help and guidance of Sr.Doris Kelly.  She uses her mouth to create various works with oils,acrylics and watercolor.  "Although I only paint once a week, it is a very important and vital part of my life.  My time with art provides me with many opportunities for creativity and accomplishment," she said.

October SurpriseWatercolor is her main focus and a few of her subjects include landscapes and flowers.  She took second place at the 2008 Multiple Sclerosis Association of America's art contest with "Burr" a watercolor portraying springtime at the shore.  In 2007 she won third place for a painting of her brother's cat named "Trudy."   At the 2011 Bryn Mawr rehab contest in Pennsylvania, she took first place for an art piece and has received honorable mentions. Sr. Kathy said, "Before entering contests, almost all of my other paintings I have given as gifts to those who have taken care of me, supported and helped me.  During the fall 2012 season, her art work called "Colors of Faith" was part of the Seton Hall University Walsh Gallery.

Morerecently Sr. Kathy has decided to grow her hair for the organization"Locks of Love," a non-profit charity that takes donated hair and makes high quality hairpieces for those suffering from a medical hair loss. 

Her indomitable spirit is evident in her art work and her never ending compassion for those who need care.   

trudy     Burr



Since leaving Collier High School, I've missed many of my former students. Iam happy to follow some students on Facebook which is nice. I've also missed the opportunity to work with the great staff. I do continue to work part time as a computer consultant, but I have limited the hours,so I have plenty of time for enjoying my hobbies and other interests.

Since leaving I have moved from Freehold to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey where I designed and supervised the building of a super-insulated, sustainable house in Green Bank on the MullicaRiver. It took a little over a year and a half, from first cracking openan architecture application on my laptop (the same application thatsome students worked with in my class) to finally moving in. I stillhave some window trim to complete but, by and large, the house is doneand very comfortable.

Since completing the house, I have had more time to devote to watercolorpaintings -- I'll be taking a series of classes shortly to learn morewatercolor techniques. I also recently purchased dirt bike and I'mhaving a lot of fun with it. The Pine Barrens are criss-crossed withmiles and miles of dirt roads and trails. I've been using GPS to keeptrack of where I am, but, even with GPS, it can get confusing.

In the spring, I will have the opportunity to visit Cypress andLondon for a short while. I plan to take a camera and my sketchbook.It's possible I may get to visit the Lake District in England where mymother was born. In any case, it will be my first visit to Europe and Ilook forward to learning a bit of history.


Iam currently teaching World History and U.S. History I at Notre DameHigh School in Lawrenceville, NJ.  There are about 1400 students and 100faculty. My class sizes are approximately 27 students and I teach 3 eighty minute blocks per day.  

Mrs. Palazza

During my second year (2013-2014), I started a club called the Notre Dame Niceties.  It is based on the idea that it costs you nothing to be kind to other people and that by spreading kindness we make the world a better place.  The club holds a boutique and offers gently used prom gowns and cocktail dresses to girts in need, who otherwise would not be able to go to the prom.  On March 28, 2014 we held our first boutique and helped approximately 20-25 girls. I know about 6 girls came from Collier High School and they all walked away with a gown.  Next year the Niceties will be doing two "out reach" boutiques and I am hoping to bring it to Collier.  The other location that we trying to secure for the boutique is the Asbury Park Boys and Girls Club.

I am also trying to establish a free summer reading clinic in Asbury Park for kids in need.  I it is just in the 

I will be returning to Notre Dame High School for the 2014-15 school year.  It will be my third year and I can't believe I have been gonefrom Collier High School for two years.  Time really does fly!


Remember the days when you entered the CHS art room and the serene demeanor of Mrs. Matos appeared?  It was then that her gentle ways allowed you to embark on your own personal creative journey.  I spoke with her recentlyand she wrote me back explaining her busy life since leaving CHS in2011.

"For the past three years I have been home taking care of my two children. My oldest daughter Evelyn is 3 1/2 and started preschool this year.  My youngest daughter Skyla is now 17 months old. Being a stay at home Mom has been a rewarding experience for me.

I have also been creating artwork as well.  I established an etsy online shop for selling paintings and repurposed artwork at I also create repurposed images for a Gallery Art Group calledArtfully Repurposed in Middletown, NJ.  FYI-Re-purposed refers to taking something that would be thrown away, such as an old piece of furniture,milk cartons or fallen leaves and turning them into a piece of art.

I miss the students, staff and landscape of Collier."

Mrs. Matos


Hello Collier and Alumni,

Whatever did happen to me since I left Collier? Oh. I'm supposed to answer thatquestion. Well, three and a half years ago my wife, Wendy, and I moved to Asheville, North Carolina to a cabin in the mountains. It's fun. Wehike in the  snow in the winter and we hike to waterfalls in the summer.We live where we see bears and bobcats, but we go into Asheville acouple of times a week for the live music and art and great food. Wemiss Collier and New Jersey - and I miss my students and friends atCollier - but we love it here, too.

Wendyis painting - watercolors - and taking workshops, growing in her field.Then, I got the idea - actually the idea got me - to go back to college to get a Ph.D. in education, so that I could teach teachers and consult to schools. I just finished that a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I go for an interview to become an educational consultant to write science lessons,then teach them to teachers and kids, then consult to other schools.Wish me luck. I remember with serious, serious fondness how we made french fries and icebox cake and did experiments that students made up -and how most of those experiments got me in trouble.

I miss many faces that I am seeing as I write this - young and old -happy and funny - sad and beautiful - and sincerely wish you the best that anyone or anything can bring you today and tomorrow,

John Bickart

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