The New Jersey Department of Education today announced that Theresa Maughan, a high school social science teacher at the East Orange STEM Academy in the East Orange School District, has been named the 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year of the State of New Jersey.
Theresa might not have become a humanities professor forty years ago without two of her her social studies teachers when she was a young student growing up in Hudson County.
“I was in seventh grade when I realized I was a ‘dreamer’ as the term is used today,” said Theresa, whose family, originally from Belize, were deported when visas from his parents have expired.
“My social studies teacher, Mrs. Roman, started a campaign to help me save myself from deportation.
The teacher organized a letter-writing campaign to his representative in Congress, and the story garnered interest from the Jersey Journal, which ran a cover story on the plight of the family.
The effort worked and the family was able to go through the naturalization process and become a U.S. citizen.
“My teacher ignited our classroom by realizing that we could take our civics classes and use them in real life situations,” Theresa said.
A few years later, in high school, Theresa’s social studies teacher gave her the role of “teacher of the day” as the class replayed a mock Andrew Johnson impeachment trial.
“I was addicted,” Theresa said. “Even though I had considered a career as an immigration lawyer to help people go through what I went through in grade seven,
I knew that a career in teaching would provide me with the best opportunity to fulfill my commitment to work for change.
Theresa challenges her students to go beyond their classroom walls to new learning opportunities and to participate in national and national academic competitions.
For example, she chaired a group of STEM students at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, and she allowed her students to participate in the Hamilton Education Program, where they created plays. performances such as songs, raps, and a monologue about the founding era.
Her students have won the Black History Month Essay Contests sponsored by the New Jersey Bar Association, the New Jersey State Department’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission Essay Contest, and have were finalists in the National History Day competition.
“New Jersey has been recognized as having the best education system in the country, and this can be attributed to dedicated educators like Theresa,” Governor Phil Murphy said.
“We congratulate Theresa on this prestigious honor. She epitomizes the strength of the New Jersey school system and our proud immigrant community.
“I am honored to recognize Theresa Maughan for her commitment to her students and her dedication to the teaching profession”, said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Interim Commissioner of Education.
“The Department of Education looks forward to working with Theresa as we strive to continuously improve education statewide.”
“Now is the time to celebrate exceptional teachers more than any other period in our recent history.
Throughout the challenges of this global pandemic, educators have truly risen to the challenge and demonstrated their dedication to the students they serve.
Ms. Theresa Maughan exemplifies this level of professionalism and dedication ”, said Kathy Goldenberg, president of the State Board of Education.
Theresa holds a BA in Education and History from Rutgers University and an MA in Administration and Supervision from the University of New Jersey City.
Even after having been a teacher for four decades, Theresa believes in continuous professional development; she is currently working on a second master’s degree, this time in American history, at Pace University in New York.
Thirty-four of Theresa’s forty years of education has served as a teacher serving students in the East Orange School District.
“This is yet another example of the East Orange School District being recognized for what it is, home to some of the best teachers and students in a state known to have the best teachers and students in the country.” said AbdulSaleem Hasan, superintendent of the East Orange school district.
“We are really proud of Ms. Maughan. Amid a global pandemic and the challenges inherent in virtual learning, she was able to adapt and overcome and ensure that her students receive a world-class education. “
“Ms. Maughan is a remarkable educator who demonstrates exceptional teaching strategies on a daily basis,” said Vincent L. Stallings, director of East Orange STEM Academy. Her students are always the focus of her lessons and student engagement is extremely high.
Ms. Maughan is a respected leader among her peers and district colleagues; his level of professionalism is unmatched.
Theresa has lived in Morris County with her thirty-three year husband Niall. Her daughter and son are both graduates of the College of New Jersey, and her daughter is a special education teacher in New Jersey.
In her role as State Teacher of the Year, Theresa will work with the New Jersey Department of Education and make presentations to colleagues and state stakeholders, speak with prospective teachers and will visit classrooms throughout New Jersey to promote diversity in the teaching workforce and continuous improvement in education.
She will also participate in national conferences with other state teachers of the year.
Theresa was one of four finalists for New Jersey State Teacher of the Year. The finalists received the highest marks on their nominations and interviews with a distinguished panel of representatives from state education associations and other stakeholder groups.
The other three finalists are: Lynne Bussott, second year teacher at Governor Charles C. Stratton School, Swedesboro-Woolwich School District, Gloucester County; Alyssa Geary, Special Education and English Educator at Red Bank Middle School, Red Bank Borough School District, Monmouth County; and Faith Roncoroni, English teacher at Phillipsburg High School, Phillipsburg School District, Warren County.