2019 Teacher of the Year: Robert GangiJillian Decker
Rob Presenting at the 2018 Forum on the Tet Offensive (photo credit Michael McMahon)
Celebrating a Commitment to our Educational Mission:
To Remember, To Honor, To Heal in New Jersey Classrooms
By Keri A. Giannotti, Museum Educator
This year, the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation recognizes Robert Gangi as our 2019 Teacher of the Year. The NJVVMF introduced this honor in 2018 to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the opening of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Museum and Education Center.
Robert Gangi was selected by the Teacher of the Year Committee, consisting of NJVVMF Staff and members of the Board of Trustees, for his commitment to the teaching of the history of the Vietnam Era. For over a decade Robert has brought students from his course, “The Vietnam War Era,” to tour the Memorial as part of the curriculum. During these trips, he serves as an “unofficial” photographer of the Memorial and has captured dozens of beautiful images showing our tour guides interacting with his students. We have used some of his photos in our publications, as he is able to truly capture the passion our volunteers bring to their tour experiences with students.
When notified of the award, Robert said, “I am truly honored, for as you know I have great reverence for what all the staff and volunteers do every day at your outstanding museum and education center. I am indeed very proud to have a close working relationship with the NJVVMF, and it is always a highlight of my year to take students there. I really am touched by this honor.”
Robert Gangi is a dedicated, energetic, and passionate teacher with 22 years of experience developing curriculum and teaching a variety of history classes. He currently teaches in East Brunswick High School, a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. He has developed specialized courses, including, The Vietnam War Era: A Time of Turmoil and Change, as well as the college-level courses, Genocide in the Modern World, and Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. These courses remain some of the most popular electives in the school.
To enhance the educational programs and student experiences, these classes have arranged for students to hear primary source testimony from numerous guest speakers such as Holocaust survivors, Cambodian genocide survivors and Vietnam veterans. Another common feature for all these classes are field trips to the NJVVMF and other sites of historical significance.
Robert Gangi considers himself a teacher, but also a lifelong learner. He earned his teaching certificate and B.A. in History from William Paterson University in 1995, and has since earned two additional Master’s degrees (Education Administration from Kean University in 2005, and History from William Paterson in 2008) — all while teaching full-time.
Mr. Gangi is extremely dedicated to professional development. He has attended and presented at numerous seminars and workshops at the local and state level, including last year’s NJVVMF 50th Anniversary of the Tet Offensive for which he developed an extensive and readily usable curriculum unit for teachers.
He feels both honored and fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to take advantage of several prestigious scholarships and awards. These include a Fulbright Scholarship, a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellowship, a Columbia University Alfred-Lerner Fellowship as well as several other scholarships that have allowed him to study history programs abroad in places like China, Korea, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Germany and Poland.
He is also an avid traveler. For his own personal cultural enrichment and leisure he has toured numerous foreign countries including Vietnam and Cambodia. During these trips, he made a special effort to visit the Hanoi Hilton, Vietnam War Museums in Saigon, and the Cu Chi Tunnels.
In his free time, he enjoys photography, music and spending quality time with his wonderful wife Sara, and their two Italian greyhounds, Grady and Skillet.
About the Forum
This year’s Forum, Civil Rights and Liberties During the Vietnam War, focuses on Civil Rights and Liberties. In the age of increasing student activism we are excited to host Mary Beth Tinker as our keynote. Tinker is the namesake of the Supreme Court Case Tinker v. Des Moines which involved student lead protest of the Vietnam War. Other student and educational centered panels include; civic participation among young people and Freedom Schools during Freedom Summer.
For more information on how to register for the 19th Annual Interdisciplinary Forum, please visit https://www.njvvmf.org/annual-interdisciplinary-forum/
Tags: NJVVMF; Robert Gangi, Vietnam Era, Mary Beth Tinker, Tinker v Des Moines, Civil rights, Holocaust, genocide, Fulbright Scholarship, history teacher
The NJVVMF Teacher of the Year Committee is always looking for nominations from colleagues, administrators and community members. If you know of a teacher that is making important contributions to the teaching of the Vietnam Era, please send their name, school district, and a little bit about why they should be nominated to Keri A. Giannotti at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration by the committee.
Our 2018 NJVVMF Teacher of the Year Frank Dunn has recently retired from Boonton High School and joined our team volunteers at The Memorial.