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Educator Recognition

New Jersey Teacher of the Year Program

2009-2010 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year

Maryann Woods-MurphyMaryann Woods-Murphy is a Spanish teacher at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, New Jersey.
She received her B.A., Summa Cum Laude, in philosophy and general humanities as well as her M.A. in Spanish literature from Montclair State University.  She also received a Diploma de Estudios Hispánicos from the University of Salamanca in Spain and is currently enrolled in the Doctoral program in Educational Leadership at Rowan University.  Maryann is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society as well as numerous professional organizations.

Maryann became a teacher because she wanted to share her enthusiasm about language and culture with young people. After college, she lived in Spain and was so inspired by this experience, since that time, she has arranged 26 trips abroad over the last seventeen years for both students and colleagues. She is a strong advocate for these kinds of learning experiences as a means of increasing language proficiency and cross-cultural awareness and understanding.  Maryanne is also committed to using technology to enable students to experience the target culture by communicating both orally and in writing with their peers in virtual environments.

For the last ten years, Maryann has been the Director of Teens Talk about Racism, a leadership program for youth. Because of her commitment and success in working with teens in this program, she was the recipient of the 2009 Martin Luther King Birthday Committee’s “Lee Reid Award.”  Teens Talk about Racism provides students an opportunity to participate in life-changing conversations about diversity while developing the strong interpersonal communication and cross-cultural skills needed in the 21st Century.

Maryann is also a strong supporter of the changes that have occurred in teaching and learning world languages during her career.  She is pleased that the days of memorizing dialogs and reciting verb conjugations are no longer the focus of standards-driven world languages classrooms which center on using the language to connect with the global community to increase understanding and to engage in real world tasks.  Maryann believes that this is an exciting time to be a world languages teacher and will be a strong advocate for world languages education as an indispensible skill for all students in our global society.