For the last 29 years, Robert Fenster has walked the halls and taught in the Social Studies Department at Hillsborough High School.
His duties as an educator have gone beyond just the classroom, embodying many different titles by entrenching himself in several extracurricular activities around the school.
Fenster helped start the Mock Trial team at Hillsborough, leading the club to seven county championships since.
He’s gone on to add many other titles by advising and overseeing other clubs such as Model United Nations, Model Congress, the Podcasting Club and Amnesty International.
There will be another title Fenster will get to add to his education career this spring, one few educators can say they have been honored to receive.
That title is Hall of Famer.
Fenster will be a part of the 30th induction class into the National Teachers Hall of Fame this June in Emporia, Kansas.
“It’s a great honor,” Fenster said. “It’s very humbling to be discussed amongst the other teachers that are being inducted and that were nominated. I work really hard. I’m always improving myself through different activities in the classroom to help my students learn. ”
Fenster is joined by four other teachers, Leila Kubesch of Ohio, Sergio Dealba of California, Christopher Poulos of Connecticut and Kareem Neal of Arizona into the Class of 2022.
All five inductees will be honored this May by the National Education Association in Washington, DC, as part of a special ceremony to follow up Teachers Appreciation Week across the country.
The Class of 2022 will also get the opportunity to go down to Orlando at the end of June to a social and emotional learning conference being held at EPCOT at Walt Disney World.
Fenster is the fifth teacher from the State of New Jersey to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.
It was all so “surreal” for Fenster when he heard the news that he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame by Hillsborough High School Principal Michele Fischer on April 6.
Fenster has been a Top 10 candidate for the Hall of Fame the past two years. There are only five teachers who are enshrined into the Hall of Fame each year.
Fellow Social Studies teacher Robert Longo has nominated Fenster the last few years for the prestigious honor.
The two colleagues have a working relationship that spans around 20 years, according to Fenster, calling it the most “fruitful” relationship of his teaching career. Both teachers currently help teach the US History I course at Hillsborough.
Along with Longo, Fenster names former Hillsborough High School Principal Karen Bingert and supervisor Toby Kansagor at the top of his list of key figures who have meant a lot to him during his teaching career in Hillsborough.
A native of Parsippany in Morris County, Fenster attended Rutgers University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in both History and Political Science and obtained his master’s in Social Studies Education.
Fenster has never left the hallow halls of Hillsborough High School since starting his teaching career there in 1993.
There have been times over the course of his teaching journey that Fenster has debated leaving Hillsborough, but his love for the school and the colleagues has led him to continue to stay and be a part of the Raider family.
“It’s the matter of loving the place you work at and the people you work with,” said Fenster. “We’ve built a lot of great things here at Hillsborough.”
What makes it all worth wild for Fenster is seeing his students achieve great things after they graduate and dip their toes into the real world.
He’s watched students like Nina Jankowicz work with congressmen and senators and become a published author, while others like Gwen Prowse become college professors.
“It’s been incredible to see what our students have accomplished after graduating,” Fenster said. “So many alumni are teachers or professors. I’m happy to have put my own stamp of influence on them and help them pay it forward to their students. ”
Fenster has earned many accomplishments over his teaching career. In just the last few years, he has received the Paul A. Gagnon Prize from the National Council for History Education, the 2019 Secondary Education Teacher of the Year Award from the New Jersey Council for Social Studies, the 2019 Law-Related Education Teacher of the Year Award from American Lawyers Alliance, and the 2017 Claes Nobel Top Ten Educator of the Year Award from the National Society of High School Scholars.
An enshrinement into the National Teachers Hall of Fame will now be included on that list for Fenster when he concludes his 29th year of teaching.
With his wife, Eileen, by his side, Fenster said he looks forward to that moment and thanking everyone who has helped him during his teaching career.