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Angello Villarreal: 2022 Emerging Leader Award Recipient

Angello Villarreal, Ph.D., a Spanish Adjunct Professor at Monmouth and a Spanish teacher at Freehold Township High School, recently received an award from the National Association of Professional Development Schools (NAPDS).

As an adjunct professor, Villarreal is happy that he gets to interact with students on a daily basis. He mentioned, “I love that students are always enthusiastic about learning, not just the language but also the culture. We take lessons where we make differences between cultures, and we learn together.”

He finds teaching Spanish and education the most rewarding. “In the School of Ed, students are learning how to become teachers, and knowing that I am part of that process makes everything worthwhile. I feel that I am teaching my own children’s future teachers,” said Villarreal.

Leadership is certainly one of Villarreal’s most valuable qualities. This can be seen both inside and outside the classroom and was one of the reasons that led him to be the recipient of the 2022 Emerging Professional Development School Leader Award at the annual National Association for Professional Development Schools conference on Feb. 10 in Chicago.

Villarreal was nominated on behalf of Monmouth University and through his participation in the Teacher Residency Program. Additionally, Villarreal delivered the keynote address as part of a Monmouth team and served as a featured speaker for the National Anti-Racism NAPDS summit.

Villarreal could not believe he had won such an award. He said, “I was amazed when I received the email. I know how prestigious it is, and mostly because it is at a national platform. I remember I had to sit down in my car for a few minutes as I could not believe it.”

According to Villarreal, Monmouth helped him tremendously in earning this honor and being recognized. “I came to Monmouth University to pursue my education degree and become a teacher, but I was coming from senior leadership in corporate America,” he said.

He recalls the first meeting he had with Dean John Henning back in 2018, “I still think that he saw something in me that pushed me to do better.” This push allowed him to take advantage of many opportunities, including the Teacher Residency program. “This made me a more confident and marketable teacher,” he said. “Now, because of all those experiences, I partner up with different state organizations where I present class strategies, social justice issues, advocate for all students, leading to the NAPDS national award.”

Not only was Villarreal recognized through the NAPDS award, but he was also working diligently on his doctoral degree which he earned in Jan. 2022 from Monmouth. His doctoral program was in Educational Leadership and he primarily focused on providing more opportunities to Emergent Multilingual (ESL/ELL) students through peer-mentorship.

This confronted him with the possibility to go beyond lessons and focus on how he sees his classrooms & students. He said, “I was challenged to see education from different lenses (social justice, pre-k, leadership, technology, equity, etc.) as the classmates in my cohort brought rich conversations and approaches to each single class.”

For Villarreal, balancing his career and family life is still a work in progress. He was often working three to four jobs both while earning his MAT and doctoral degree at Monmouth. “I was a full-time teacher, graduate assistant at the University Library, adjunct professor at Monmouth University, and graduate research assistant at the school of education. All while being a father of three little ones,” Villarreal mentioned.

A professor gave him advice that he hopes to pass on to any Monmouth students or faculty struggling to manage their time: “One hour a day. Dedicate one hour a day to your school work/dissertation. The rest is for your profession and family. That was the best advice. During that hour, I turned my cell phone off, no distractions, and I was able to defend my dissertation in only one and a half years, which usually takes two years or more.”

Villarreal attributes his family to helping him get to this point in his career. He said with great pride, “They were the ones that sacrificed the most as they saw me reading all the time, writing when I was figuring out how to balance life.”

He also credits his professors at Monmouth such as Dean John Henning, Ph.D., and Jason Fitzgerald Ph.D., is former coworkers at Long Branch Public Schools, and his current coworkers at Freehold Township High Schools.

Henning said, “The “Emerging PDS Leader” award is a tremendous testimony of Dr. Villarreal’s rapid growth from an aspiring teacher into an outstanding educational leader in just a few short years.”

Villarreal added, “Lastly, my students (former, current, and future) … they are the ones keeping me on my toes, from making me smile, making laugh, and sometimes even making me cry. They are the ones I always try to do better.”