With Teacher Appreciation Week coming up in May, we'll be featuring a few remarkable educators who strive to improve our education system on a daily basis. Educators like Nicholas Ferroni. Mr. Ferroni has been a 10th grade History teacher and the advisor for the Feminist Club at Union High School in New Jersey, for 14 years. He is known for his efforts in advocating gender equality and the rights of LGBT students.
"That your success in life is not going to be determined by your possessions, but by your purpose. To value others and know that the strongest people, throughout history, have always fought for the rights of others."
Mr. Ferroni is no stranger to awards. Aside from being recognized as the 'Sexiest Male Teacher' by People, one of the 'Most Influential People' and 'Fittest Men in the World' by Men's Fitness, he was recently honored the 2017 Diversity in Education Champion Award by the American Conference on Diversity. But ask him about it and he'll tell you he doesn't deserve any of them, that's the kind of example he likes to set for his students. His strongest passion is celebrating educators and students, using every resource he has to help students reach their goals. At the least, he hopes to improve his students' mental and physical health, academics, and self-esteem. And as if that wasn't enough, he aspires to shift the public opinion about educators:
"The truth is that educators are so much more than just educators and we should value them as much as we value our celebrities and athletes."
Bored Teachers: What's your favorite part about teaching? What's the hardest part about teaching?
Ferroni: Being around and mentoring the future generation. Knowing that a student now believes in their abilities because of you; or sparking that curiosity and passion in a student that wasn't there before; reaching that student who was believed to be unreachable. The hardest part is dealing with all the outside policies that are hindering education and educators. Also, each generation of students have different needs and issues that we must address and teach them to deal with. Every teacher questions leaving teaching at least once a week.
Bored Teachers: What is the most important change needed in our education system, today?
Ferroni: We need to focus more on connections than content. Students should learn how to be compassionate and creative more than they learn how to answer questions or retain information. Empathy is a quality that most children lack in some cases. We must also teach children to question answers and not just answer questions.
You may also recognize Mr. Ferroni and his students from some of our funny videos, memes, and quotes. As an accomplished actor and writer before becoming a teacher, Ferroni is now collaborating with Bored Teachers, creating entertaining scripts and acting them out with the kids.
During lunch period, Ferroni and a group of 12-16 students brainstorm, write up short scripts, and then film them in his classroom. According to Ferroni, the group will soon become an extra curricular class at Union High School, called the "Fools in School Club".
"My students are great and it definitely had a positive affect on our class. They are so much more comfortable and engaged in class and my classroom environment is incredible and warm."