Kimberly Dickstein Hughes

2019-2020 New Jersey State
Teacher of the Year

Throughout the many challenges we faced this year, New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, Kimberly Dickstein Hughes, showcased the level of excellence New Jersey educators possess and represented the profession with grace, class, and style.

From an early age, Kimberly has been a change-maker. She has been volunteering with the Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation since she herself was a teen, and now Kimberly serves on the organization's foundation, community advisory board and advises the Youth Leadership Council. She has been nominated for the L'Oréal Woman of Worth Award program, to name a few. She also worked with her students to help Garang Buk Buk Piol, a former child soldier from South Sudan who is now working to rebuild his community through public health and development projects, with tuition and sponsorship while he completed Emory University's master's program in international development.

Like every other teacher in the nation, Kimberly has seen her plans and goals for the 2019-2020 school year vastly altered. As the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, she was in the third month of her sabbatical working at the New Jersey Department of Education and visiting her colleagues in schools across the state before the pandemic forced educators and students to transition to remote learning. Working with colleagues, she came up with a very elegant solution to a complex problem. She knew that students and teachers throughout New Jersey would turn to internet-based learning platforms, but that even with strong efforts to ensure that every student had access to technology, not every student would have access to reliable internet. However, most students would have access to public television. Why not tap into Kimberly's diverse network of teachers across the state and ask them to video themselves teaching a 55-minute lesson, and then televise those supplemental lessons every day for students to watch on public television? With the enthusiastic support of NJEA and NJTV, NJTV Learning Live was born.  

Even before the crisis, Kimberly displayed this kind of leadership, innovation, and expertise in education to benefit her students, her colleagues, and our state.  She is an educator who wants to amplify the voices of other educators. When she was named the 2019-20 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, she made it her platform to Lift Every Voice, and has been working directly with the New Jersey Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, as well as The College of New Jersey Center for Future Educators to celebrate and elevate the profession. She has engaged stakeholders on all levels to advocate for our profession. It is these conversations that have been instrumental in bringing organizations together.  

She is a dynamic, passionate, committed, tireless, and creative educator. She is a treasure, not just in the joyful way she has of working with students, but also in how she encourages and inspires her colleagues to strive for more. She is an educator who exhibits and reflects the best of the profession.