TINTON FALLS, N.J. (PIX11) – It was a surprise he will never forget when Monmouth County Teacher of the Year Joseph Nappi was invited to read an announcement during an assembly. To his surprise, the envelope he was asked to open told him he had been selected as the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year for 2023-2024.

“It was a shock for me,” said Nappi, who has been teaching social studies at Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls for nearly two decades. “When I came into the gym I saw the dignitaries, I was still trying to figure out exactly what was happening here this morning.

“I’ve just been reflecting back on all the people who’ve mentored me over the years, all the people who helped me,” he continued. “Really overwhelming.”

Students remarked on Nappi’s intelligence, calm demeanor and outgoing nature.

“I was proud of him. I was happy for him,” said senior Nasir Watson, who was Nappi’s student for a world history class. “I would say he really cares about his students. He seemed very easy to talk to and peaceful. I’m glad he won it, and I’m happy for him and his family.”

A teacher of a Holocust class, Nappi has taken more than 600 students to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., and challenges his students to be the change they wish to see in this world. He also encourages others to consider forging their own path into education by becoming a teacher.

“I’d originally planned on being a computer science major. I was chasing a paycheck,” said Nappi. “I made a switch back in 2001 and I’m so happy that I did. It’s been the most rewarding experience of my life.”