Joseph Nappi, a social studies teacher at Monmouth Regional High School, has been named the 2023-2024 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, the New Jersey Department of Education recently announced.
Since completing his Bachelor of Arts in history and secondary education from Rowan University, Nappi has been teaching Holocaust, Genocide, and Modern Humanity as well as U.S. History at Monmouth Regional High School. As part of his work at Monmouth Regional, he has taken more than 600 students to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., where he has had the opportunity to serve as a Museum Teacher Fellow since 2019. His students have engaged in campaigns to stop human trafficking, incorporate Holocaust and Genocide education into curricula across the country, and raise money for refugee resettlement because of his work challenging his students to “Be the Change” they wish to see in the world.
“Today, we celebrate the remarkable dedication and impact of Joseph Nappi who has more than earned the designation of the 2023-2024 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “Educators like Joe are the heart and soul of our state’s education system, inspiring our youth and shaping the leaders of tomorrow. His innovative teaching methods, unwavering commitment, and passion for education have not only transformed classrooms but have also ignited a lifelong love for learning in countless students. I am incredibly proud of Joe’s accomplishments and the positive influence he has had on our educational community. His dedication reflects the values that New Jersey holds dear – a commitment to excellence, empathy and the pursuit of knowledge.”
Dr. Timothy Purnell, executive director and CEO of the New Jersey School Boards Association, said, “I was honored to join leaders of the education community in surprising Mr. Nappi with the 2023-24 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year award. As a social studies teacher, he works tirelessly to connect his teaching to the world students live in today.” He added, “I’m also impressed with his work outside of the classroom. When he learned one of his students did not have enough food to eat at home, he founded Monmouth Helping Its Own, which is a faculty-run charitable organization that helps students facing financial hardships. He truly cares about students. He continues to do all he can to help them learn.”
“I am thrilled to extend my warmest congratulations to Mr. Nappi for his exceptional achievement as the 2023-2024 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education. “Joe’s innovative teaching methods and passion for guiding students toward success exemplify the very best of our education system. He is a shining example of the transformative power that teachers possess, shaping the minds of our future leaders. We are honored to have Joe represent the pinnacle of educational excellence in New Jersey.”
“On behalf of the State Board of Education, I sincerely congratulate Mr. Joseph Nappi on being selected as the 2023- 2024 State Teacher of the Year,” said Kathy Goldenberg, president of the State Board of Education. “Mr. Nappi’s empathy and dedication first and foremost to his students cannot be overemphasized.” She added, “He works hard daily to positively influence their educational experiences. Mr. Nappi has led different clubs in school and taken students on field trips and has gone the extra mile to know and assist individual students. I am proud to call Mr. Nappi the Teacher of the Year from the state of New Jersey’s teaching workforce.”
Throughout his illustrious career, Nappi has won numerous honors, including the Dr. Frank Kaplowitz Human Rights Educator of the Year Award from Kean University in 2017 and the Ida and Jeff Margolis Medallion for Excellence in Multicultural Education from Rowan University in 2005. He has also been named Teacher of the Year at Monmouth Regional High School in 2010 and 2023. He collaborated with a national group of educators assembled by PBS to develop lessons for Ken Burns’ documentary “The U.S. and the Holocaust” over the summer of 2022. He published a blog post titled “10 Concrete Tips for Teaching About the Holocaust” to go along with the movie’s debut. This blog was highlighted on PBS Learning Media.
“Mr. Nappi exemplifies what an outstanding teacher should be,” said Brian Evans, acting superintendent and principal of the Monmouth Regional High School District. “He has a gift to create tremendous relationships with his students. “Mr. Nappi builds his students’ self-confidence, and he helps them to truly understand that they possess the power to make significant, positive change in our world.”
In his role as State Teacher of the Year, Nappi will work with the NJDOE and give presentations to colleagues and stakeholders around the state, speak with aspiring teachers and visit classrooms to advance the teaching profession. He will also take part in national conferences with other State Teachers of the Year.
Additional information can be found on the Governor’s Educator of the Year webpage.