Four outstanding secondary school teachers to be honored at Princeton Commencement

Written by
Denise Valenti, Office of Communications
May 16, 2023

Princeton University will honor four outstanding New Jersey secondary school teachers at its 2023 Commencement on Tuesday, May 30.

This year’s recipients of the Princeton Prize for Distinguished Secondary School Teaching are Wahab Ashraf of Science Park High School in Newark, Bob Fenster of Hillsborough High School, Maria Maloupis of Lyndhurst Middle School, and Nancy Picinic Ricca of Pascack Valley High School. They each will receive $5,000, as well as $3,000 for their school libraries.

“These four prize winners represent the incredible work that is taking place in our nation’s schools,” said Todd Kent, director of Princeton’s Program in Teacher Preparation. “These amazing individuals remind us all that great teachers have the power to change lives and lift communities.”

The selection committee, in reviewing the applications, considers recommendations from colleagues and students as well as evidence of the teachers’ accomplishments in the school and the community.

The 10 finalists were selected by the Program in Teacher Preparation staff and visited at their schools by Rosanne Zeppieri, a member of the program staff. The four winners were then selected by a committee chaired by Elizabeth Colagiuri, deputy dean of the college, that also includes Kent; Stanley Katz, a lecturer with the rank of professor in public and international affairs at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs; and William Miron, principal of Millburn High School in New Jersey and a 1978 Princeton University graduate.

“This marks the 65th year that Princeton University has received nominations to recognize four of New Jersey’s outstanding schoolteachers at Commencement,” Colagiuri said. “I must say that the recipients have each demonstrated extraordinary skill in the classroom, profound dedication to improving the lives of their students, and significant track records of service to their schools and communities. Their work is nothing short of inspirational.”

Princeton has honored secondary school teachers since 1959 after receiving an anonymous gift from an alumnus to establish the program. 

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