D’Elia creates ‘spark’ at Salem Church Middle D’Elia creates ‘spark’ at Salem Church Middle
A typical day in Janine D’Elia’s science class starts off with a warmup to activate her students’ knowledge, segues into the lesson plan of... D’Elia creates ‘spark’ at Salem Church Middle

A typical day in Janine D’Elia’s science class starts off with a warmup to activate her students’ knowledge, segues into the lesson plan of the day, and wraps the day up with an activity. This allows her students to be actively engaged and always moving in the classroom, which she said she hopes is a fun place to be.
“I teach through the lens of inquiry. My kids are scientists and they need to be able to figure things out, and I hope I develop those STEM skills. We do project-based learning and problem-based learning, so they have to figure out things and also present projects,” D’Elia said. “We do a lot of – especially in our Earth Science class – of activities where the students design their own experiments and they come up with their procedure and their materials, so I set them up for thinking like a scientist.”
D’Elia has been teaching middle-school science for 17 years, 10 of which have been at Salem Church Middle School where she teaches eighth grade and was named the school’s 2015 Teacher of the Year.
She has always taught middle school and though she sees high school as a possibility, she loves teaching middle schoolers.
“I love teaching middle school because they’re young enough where you can grab them, and you can show them how science can be so fun,” she said. “I’m sure elementary school is a lot like that too, but I love science and I feel like I’m better at teaching upper-level science.”
She has always had a love for science and wants to extend her learning and love of the subject to her students.
“I love how engaged and curious it can make kids,” D’Elia said. “When kids love science, a little lightbulb goes off and they get this little spark in their eye, and they want to try out new things. I think that just makes them love learning, so I feel like science is the path to loving learning.”
In addition to being the science teacher, D’Elia also sponsors the National Junior Honor Society, a service organization at the Salem Church that supports programs in the school and around the community.
She has also taught in Velocity, a program for students who needed additional support to stay on track and most of the students who visit her are from that program. She said it is rewarding to see her former students.
“Sometimes I’m invited to high school graduations and that is amazing for me because I teach them in eighth grade and then they leave,” she said.
“I never get to see the adult that they become unless they come back and show it to me, so when I get invited to the graduations or when I see them working out in the community, it’s so rewarding.”