Dr. Nina Lavlinskaia, who teaches science at High Tech High School, and Mark Gutmann, who teaches English at KAS Prep alternative school, both received a $1,000 fellowship award from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in appreciation for their work as first year instructors. More than 400 first-year teachers in New Jersey applied for the fellowships, but only 25 received the awards. "When you realize that only 25 out of 400 receive the fellowship, there is a feeling of distinction," said Gutmann, a North Bergen native, who is in charge of publicity and the school's newsletter at his school. "It really made me happy that my years of hard work as a collegiate teacher's assistant is finally beginning to pay off." Before being hired at KAS Prep, Gutmann spent four years as a teacher's assistant at Rutgers in Newark. Lavlinskaia was recognized for the many different programs in science that she has established since her arrival at High Tech last fall. "She has such great enthusiasm and desire," said High Tech Principal Karol Brancato. "She's increased the students' level of learning in science and she brings real world science to her students. She exposes her students to a different form of methodology." Lavlinskaia's dedication has enabled the school to offer honors biology courses for the first time. She also teaches a biotechnology course and biology with computers. "Those classes are offered after school for credit," Brancato said. "And approximately five percent of the school's population have enrolled for the classes." Because of her dedication, two of Lavlinskaia's students recently received awards at the Hudson County Science Fair, the first time the school received such honors. Lavlinskaia has also placed several of her students in local college and university research programs. Her association with the American Chemical Seed program has been invaluable to the students' progress. Lavlinskaia has also had articles published in several scientific journals. Gutmann isn't worried that he will have to perform at a higher level again as an encore. "I guess you can liken it to the actor who wins an Academy Award in his first movie," Gutmann said. "People worry about a sophomore jinx, but I don't foresee one. It was my first year and I wanted to prove that my hiring was warranted. I hopefully exceeded expectations and an award like this only helps to give me confidence in my teaching abilities.