West Orange science teacher Susan Zaccaro dead at 54

Susan Zaccaro

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Beloved Liberty Middle School science teacher Susan Zaccaro, 54, died June 30 following an illness.

Zaccaro was born in Edison and lived in Nutley. She taught science at Edison Middle School from 1990 through 2005 and moved to Liberty Middle School when it opened its doors in 2005, teaching until the time of her death. She was known as a mentor for teachers and students, instilling a love of science in many students that went on to major in science, technology, engineering or math careers.

Zaccaro was on the cutting edge of STEM curriculum and activities at Liberty, involving students in climate change youth conferences and other innovative programming. She was integral organizing the annual Multicultural Expo at Liberty that celebrated the diversity of students and staff.

On her teacher’s page for Liberty, Zaccaro wrote, “I’ve been teaching eighth-grade science in West Orange for 26 years. I received my bachelor’s degree in biology and my master’s degree in counseling and human services from Montclair State. I have also had extensive training in both special education and technology education.

“STEM education, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, has transformed the face of today’s science classroom and was a priority of President Obama’s ‘educate to innovate’ campaign,” she continued. “As I’ve embraced this initiative my students and I have been revitalized. What I love about STEM is that the ideas and methods at the heart of these disciplines — curiosity, inquiry, creativity, exploration, collaboration and critical thinking — are the skills that will help ensure my students success in higher education, in the workplace and as citizens of the world. People who can explore options, work as part of creative teams and solve entirely new problems will always be in demand. I am excited to be mentoring my students in this multidisciplinary, project-based, 21st-century program.”

There will be “A Celebration of Life” in memory of Zaccaro on Monday, July 9, at the S.W. Browne & Son Funeral Home, 267 Centre St. in Nutley, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For additional information and driving directions, go here.

In an outpouring of love and respect, colleagues at Liberty Middle School have established the “Susan Zaccaro Leadership Fund” via the West Orange Education Association and the West Orange Scholarship Fund. The scholarships will be awarded to graduating seniors at West Orange High School.

Donations to the fund have been requested by the family in lieu of flowers. Checks can be mailed to Liberty Middle School, 1 Kelly Drive, West Orange, NJ, 07052, c/o Susan Zaccaro Student Leadership Fund. Payment can also be made online at the West Orange Scholarship Fund on the West Orange School District Website at https://www.woboe.org/domain/303. Note “Susan Zaccaro Scholarship” in the Special Instructions section.

Zaccaro is survived by husband Mark Mochan, daughter Jacki Zaccaro, grandson Ryan and brother Danny Goodstein.