Helen Morgan and Her Importance

  • Miss Helen Morgan taught kindergarten for 40 years in the Sparta District School system. When a new Sparta school was to be built in 1958, a contest to “Name the New School” was proposed.The winning entry was made by then second grader Jonathan Price, who wrote: “Miss Helen Morgan gave us a good start … I think she would give the new school a good start.”

    Born on February 25, 1902 in Newark, Miss Morgan attended high school in Newton and went on to do her teacher training at Newark Normal School.  She was a gifted, well loved teacher and in her 40 years of teaching in Sparta, Miss Morgan taught many children and grandchildren of her former pupils. In the latter years of her teaching, Miss Morgan’s often brought her Saint Bernard dog ‘Tag-along’ to her classroom, to the delight of many of her students.

    Sparta and Andover were home to Miss Morgan until her passing on June 13, 1970. 

    Special thanks to the following people for their efforts in helping us remember and honor Helen Morgan:

    • Robin Suydam
    • Muriel Kraft Quinn
    • Abram Suydam
    • Nancy DiDio


Virginia "Ginny" Tino

  • Virginia "Ginny" Tino taught in the Sparta Twp. Public Schools for about 15 years. She spent most of her time in kindergarten; however, she did teach first grade, also. She passed away in September, 2007, from brain and lung cancer. The little boy and little girl statues that are out the front door represent the many young students who received her fine instruction in both academic and social areas. She was a true nurturer and a dynamic teacher.

Samantha's Garden

  • The Amphitheater
    *Completed 2005/2006

    This paved, tiered mini amphitheater feature, unique to Helen Morgan, was inspired by a committee of individuals, wishing to create a space that would be beautiful, functional and lasting in memory of then, 10 year old 4th grader Samantha Stassi who lost her life in a tragic car accident in 2004 which also claimed the lives of her parents Beverly and Anthony. (Her 12 year old sister Stephanie thankfully survived!) Once it commenced, the special mission gave children, staff, and friends a positive gathering place to channel their energies during a very difficult time.   

    Designed by Joseph Tillyer a mason contractor and Sparta parent, Samantha’s Garden became a true labor of love for, the community members and businesses that gave of themselves for this extraordinary endeavor. Concerts, classes, picnics lunches, ceremonies can be enjoyed from this inviting outdoor location for years to come.

    The Butterfly Habitat is located in Samantha’s Garden:

    In 2008 PTO individuals  & Beautification Chairman Heather Defilippis along with parent and Master Gardener Lisa Chiariello, approached Samantha’s Garden then existing committee head Ellie Wolfson to see if the grounds surrounding the paved portion of Samantha’s Garden could be used to create a Certified Monarch Waystation.  The plan was to make it part of an outdoor classroom study program. Our very own 2nd grade teacher Joann Ostrowski had even journeyed to Mexico to view to migration of the Monarchs.  The soil and location were ideal.  Thus, the habitat project seemed to be a match for the spot! (Plus, what’s a garden without greenery?)  

    The fund raising, digging, and SWEATING began all over again! Thanks to the wonderful PTO support teamed by Bob Gasper and Sue Gaughan , followed by a lucrative Fun Fair, and a generous grant from Lowe’s, the school was able to purchase plants and be substantially outfitted with tools and materials for the project.  Soon enough, there seemed like an endless sea of tiny hands planting side by side with their classmates!

    Summertime is when the habitat begins to bloom and buzz with lots of nature’s wonders!

    Samantha's Garden Committees & Special Volunteers*

    • Amphitheater Phase: (Principal Dennis Tobin)
      • Melissa & Joe Tillyer  
      • Ellie & Elliot Wolfson
      • Dan Egan  (Samantha’s godfather)
      • Nancy Porter
      • *Sandi & Dennis Specht
      • *Michael Tillyer
      • *Heather & Don Defilippis
      • *The McKay Family
      • Business Credit:  Daron Northeast, Phillips Company/Sussex Block Division, Tri-state Rentals, and Polowy Stone)
    • Butterfly Habitat Phase: (Principal Dr. Goeke)
      • Heather Defilippis
      • Bob Gasper
      • Sue Gaughan
      • Lisa Chiariello
      • Joann Ostrowski
      • Ellie Wolfson
      • *Jim Nye
    • Business Credit:  
      • Lowes Grant
      • North Creek Nurseries, PA (supplied plants at discounted prices)

    Special recognition and thanks go to the many people who volunteer their time making our schools better by their generosity and caring.  These individuals give countless hours of service often without ever having their names mentioned.

    Mr. Layman would like to thank Ellie Wolfson for her contributions to the development of this summary.