To celebrate the accomplishments of New Jersey public school graduates, NJEA presents Awards for Excellence to graduates who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their fields of expertise. This year’s recipients are Barute Kafele, Wendy Galloway, and Lee Bennet Hopkins.
A 1979 graduate of Woodbridge Senior High School, Baruti Kafele is the former principal of Newark Tech High School in East Orange. The Milken National Educator is a best-selling author, educational consultant and motivational speaker. He has been featured on NJEA’s Emmy-winning TV show, Classroom Close-up, NJ.
As an elementary school teacher, he was honored as Teacher of the Year in both East Orange and Essex County. As a middle and high school principal, he led the transformation of urban public schools in New Jersey, including Newark Tech, which went from being labeled a low-performing school in need of improvement to recognition by U.S. News and World Report magazine as one of America’s best high schools.
Kafele is the author of five books including his national best-seller, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and Life.
Kafele spreads his empowering message of transformation throughout the U.S. through professional development workshops for educators, engagement seminars for parents, motivational assemblies for students, and conference keynote addresses.
A 1973 graduate of Long Branch High School, Wendy Galloway is the director of programs for the New Jersey Department of State, serving on the senior staff of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Galloway came to the State Department after a 27-year career as a commanding officer in the New Jersey State Police. She held many different positions as an enlisted member with the division.
Galloway’s was the first woman state police spokesperson and the first African-American woman to attain the rank of major. She is the recipient of numerous commendations and service awards.
Galloway graduated from Monmouth University with a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in administration. Galloway’s first career after college was as a teacher/specialist with Neptune Township Public Schools. She has served as an adjunct instructor at both Seton Hall and Monmouth University. She is a graduate of Leadership New Jersey and a founding member and Board of Trustee officer for New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement.
A 1956 graduate of South Side (now Malcolm X Shabazz) High School in Newark, Lee Bennett Hopkins has written and edited numerous award-winning books for children and young adults, as well as professional texts and curricular materials. He has taught elementary school and served as a consultant to school systems throughout the country.
Bennett’s creativity is the result of his passion for poetry and his unflagging belief that poetry is a necessity for children, at home and in the classroom.
In addition to his anthologies, Bennett’s own works include Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life, Alphathoughts: Alphabet Poems, City I Love, Full Moon and Star, Mama: A Novel, and Mama & Her Boys: A Novel. His award-winning series of American History through poetry for children and young adults includes Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry, My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, and America At War.
To encourage the recognition of poetry, Bennett has established two major awards: the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, presented annually by Penn State University for a single volume of poetry, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association Promising Poet Award, presented every three years by the International Reading Association.