Theresa Maughan, a high school social studies teacher at East Orange STEM Academy in East Orange, Essex County, has been named the 2021-22 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year.
Maughan, who was born in Belize, Central America, emigrated with her family when she was in elementary school. Her social studies teacher’s efforts to save her family from deportation after their visa expired inspired Maughan to recognize the power educators have in their students’ lives and to pursue a career in education.
Maughan earned a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education from Rutgers University. She earned a master’s degree in administration and supervision of urban schools from New Jersey City University and is completing a second master’s degree in American history from Pace University.
An educator for nearly 40 years, Maughan credits her longevity in the profession to her lifelong commitment to professional development and to the camaraderie and collaboration embedded in her professional learning communities. She is passionate about learning and tells her students that she tries to learn something new every day.
Maughan is a curriculum writer and has developed and presented several interdisciplinary professional development workshops for her school district. She has served as a mentor for new teachers and students studying history. She has previously been named the Teacher of the Year at East Orange High School, East Orange Campus High School and East Orange STEM Academy. She is also the 2021 Essex County Teacher of the Year and the NJ History Day/National History Day Patricia Behring Senior Division Teacher of the Year. For more than a decade, Maughan has attended the summer workshops held by the New Jersey Amistad Commission, and she is proud to be serving as an Amistad Scholar.
Maughan lives in Randolph with her husband, Niall. They are the parents of two children. Bre is a social studies inclusion teacher in Livingston and Ryan is a recent graduate of The College of New Jersey now working in marketing and sales.
“Teaching has always been a noble profession and now more than ever, it is important we have people of strong character, steeped in the principals of truth and knowledge,” said NJEA President Sean M. Spiller. “It is fitting that in this moment, at this time, we have a history teacher as our NJ State Teacher of the Year. Theresa’s expertise and voice serves as a guiding path to show how educators teach critical thinking skills, how students learn to draw conclusions based on facts, and how important it is to share the stories of all people. Congratulations, Theresa. We are so proud of you.”
“Theresa Maughan represents the very essence of our profession,” said NJEA Vice President Steve Beatty. “She has an infectious passion for her curriculum that is matched only by her passion for her students. Leading with compassion and a palpable desire to see her students succeed, she will serve as a perfect representation of New Jersey’s teachers on the national stage. Congratulations, Theresa, we are humbled by your dedication to your craft.”
“When I think about what makes great teachers, I think about Theresa Maughan,” said NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Petal Robertson. “As a history teacher, she infuses the present into the past, and, in doing so, illuminates new worlds for her students. It is her thoughtful and honest approach to teaching events of the past that ensures every student feels seen and valued. Teachers like Theresa are building a brighter future for students and public schools. Congratulations, Theresa, your words and your works will continue to make a difference.”
While the global pandemic may alter or delay some of the perks of being the State Teacher of the Year, as the New Jersey Teacher of the Year, Maughan is entitled to an all-expense paid, six-month sabbatical from January through June 2022 to attend national and state conferences, to tour the state visiting classrooms and to work on various initiatives at the New Jersey Department of Education, courtesy of program sponsor ETS. ETS also provides $3,000 worth of technology equipment. NJEA will provide a rental car, equipped with EZ Pass, to help her travel to speaking engagements and meetings across the state. NJEA also will provide complimentary access to all major NJEA workshops and training opportunities, a $500 clothing allowance, media training and communications support, and funding for a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with the other state teachers of the year and the President of the United States.