Educators to be honored by Bloomfield Educational Foundation

Lenore M. Imhoff

BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield Educational Foundation will recognize several long-time educators at their 25th annual anniversary gala at which they will also honor UNICO and announce a $50,000 grant to help fund an E-Sports arena.

The BEF will bestow honors on Bloomfield High School Alumna of the Year Lenore M. Imhof, BHS Alumnus of the Year James Johnston, Educator of the Year Steve Jenkins, Community Organization of the Year Bloomfield UNICO and recognize Danielle Kelly as the 2024 District Teacher of the Year.

The annual gala is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville. Seats are $125 for adults and $75 for those 21 and under. For more information go to or call 973-403-0032.

Alumna of the Year Lenore M. Imhoff
Lenore M. Imhof is a lifelong resident of Bloomfield, a graduate of Brookdale School, North Junior High School and Bloomfield High School, Class of 1984. She taught at her alma mater for 27 years.

A graduate of Georgetown University, Imhof has a passion for swimming and coaching that began during her family’s summers at Montclair Beach Club. She began swimming competitively at age 4 and swam for the Passaic Clifton YWCA until she graduated high school, and then for Georgetown earning the role of captain in her senior year.

Imhof started coaching her own summer swim team at age 17 and later coached at Columbia College in New York City. She started the BHS Club Swim Team, which developed into a full fledged league team.

Imhof returned to Bloomfield to teach in 1995 after she gained admission to Seton Hall University School of Law’s evening law program. She started teaching English and world history in Bloomfield while attending and graduating from SHU Law.

At BHS, she created a law related education program teaching law enforcement and criminal/social justice classes. She also started the Mock Trial Team and the Annual BHS Law Day Celebration.

Imhof is currently a fourth grade teacher at her newly adopted town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine where she and her husband Kirk Mikkelsen reside.

Alumnus of the Year James Johnston

James Johnston

James “Jay” Johnston is a member of the BHS Class of ’78. His wife Maureen, is a member of the BHS Class of ’82. They have 2 sons, James and Conor. The oldest of 8 children, his parents John and Catherine, immigrated to the United States from Ireland.

Jay and lifelong friends established the Watsessing Athletic Club, which sponsors scholarships for college bound BHS student athletes. In addition, the WAC provides a support network for fellow Bengals who need assistance in handling life’s challenges. The motto of the organization is “Bengals for Bengals.”

An established litigator, Johnston is supervising assistant corporation counsel with the City of Jersey City. An advocate of equal rights, he chairs the Legal/Regulatory Affairs Committee of the City’s LGBTQ Task Force. He is also chair of the Union Township Planning Board.

For 17 years he was an adjunct law professor at Seton Hall Law School. He taught hundreds of future lawyers the art of trial advocacy, and motion practice.

Prior to entering the practice of law, Johnston was a detective lieutenant with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. He specialized in investigating government corruption, organized crime, narcotics trafficking and financial fraud. Before joining the ECPO, Johnston was a police officer with the former Essex County Police Department. He received the distinguished service medal for saving the life of a man who had fallen into a pool of hot tar.

He graduated from Seton Hall University and went on to earn a masters degree and a law degree from that university. He is a recipient of the university’s Many Are One Law School Distinguished Service Award.

Educator of the Year Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is a lifelong Bloomfield resident. He played in Midtown Little League for Hall of Famer Tony Sarno and basketball at Sacred Heart School under the direction of the legendary Coach Roland Foster. Jenkins later coached the Elks in Midtown Little League and basketball for Sacred Heart and the Bloomfield Recreation Department. While at Immaculate Conception High School he was a member of the state championship basketball team that defeated St. Anthony for the North Jersey title and Sacred Heart of Vineland for the overall State Championship. He won the state discus championship as a senior and graduated as the school record holder in the event.

Jenkins graduated from Montclair State University with a master’s degree in teaching. He began teaching physical education at Bloomfield High School in 1994. Jenkins also served as girls varsity basketball coach for 10 seasons highlighted by the 1999-2000 team which swept league, county and sectional titles. Their record of 25-3 is the best in the history of Bengals girl’s basketball program. He was named Essex County Girls Basketball Coach of the year for the 99-00 season.

While coaching track and field, Jenkins mentored 19 county relay champions, 23 county individual champions, 21 state sectional champions, three state group champions, one overall state champion and eight state place winners. His athletes have broken school records on more than 15 occasions. Jenkins was named Essex County Track Coach of the year in 2000.

In 2005, Jenkins was named BHS director of athletics and supervisor of physical education and health, where he instituted CPR training in all senior health classes through a grant from the BEF and mandated community service for all Bloomfield athletic teams.

Under his direction, Bloomfield High School was the first school in New Jersey to award varsity letters to Special Olympians. He co-founded the Karen Centinaro Memorial Cheer for the Cure cheerleading showcase which has raised more than $100,000 for cancer research. Additionally, he has overseen the addition of girls wrestling, hockey, swimming, and unified sports at BHS.

Jenkins has received numerous accolades including Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League Athletic Director of the year in 2008, Essex County Athletic Director of the Year in 2014, and Man of the Year by the Bloomfield PBA in 2011.

Jenkins has been married to the former Jaynellen Behre for 23 years and has two daughters, Molly, 17, and Sally, 14.

District Teacher of the Year Danielle Kelly

Danielle Kelly

The Bloomfield School District announced that Danielle Kelly, an educator for 16 years who is the Carteret Elementary School Teacher of the Year, has also been selected as the Bloomfield School District Teacher of the Year.

Kelly teaches in a third grade inclusion class creating an inclusive environment where all students are given every opportunity to be successful. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she is the leader of the forensics team, performing arts director, serves on the District Social Studies Committee, clinical supervisor for a student teacher, serves on the District Data Team and leads various professional development opportunities addressing data driven instruction.

Kelly received her bachelors and master’s degree from Montclair State University and has been teaching in Bloomfield and Carteret since she was a student teacher. Kelly is married to George and has two children; George V, and Lilliana.

Community Organization of the Year: Bloomfield UNICO

Bloomfield UNICO has given out more than 1,500 scholarships to Bloomfield students and residents including 80 Brian Piccolo Scholarships to student athletes.

Bloomfield UNICO has also supported the revitalization of Foley Field, donated the statue of Christopher Columbus on the township Green, donated the electronic sign board in front of the Civic Center and contributed to many other civic programs and appeals throughout the township.

Since 1995, Bloomfield UNICO has sponsored the Columbus Day Essay Contest for fourth grade students with cash prizes awarded to the first, second and third place winners.

The BEF will kick off their 25th anniversary year with a $50,000 gift to the high school to fund an E-Sports Arena. E-Sports is video gaming with individuals or teams competing against each other through various video games. Since 2018, when the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) first recognized esports as an official sport, more than 8,600 high schools have started video-gaming teams.