Champion of Change: Nicholas Ferroni

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Nicholas Ferroni’s eyes light up when he talks about his students. And for good reason – his passion is teaching and educating. Nicholas is a 10th-grade history teacher in Union, New Jersey, to diverse students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. He’s also a nationally recognized activist, known for using social experiments in his classroom to help his students “understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes because that’s when you have an epiphany.” You can google him. He’s gone viral. And he's no stranger to the morning shows.

And while he’d rather spend his time speaking about the ways he works with teenage boys to help them see the importance of gender issues, he can’t go too far without some of his awards being mentioned (People’s Sexiest Teacher Alive and one of the 'Most Influential People' and 'Fittest Men” by Men’s Fitness to name a few).

Nicholas brushes those aside, saying the most important thing he wants his students to learn is that “strong people stand up for themselves, but the strongest people in history stood up for others.” But in order to impart that lesson, he knew he needed to truly teach history. That’s why he developed a “Teach the Truth” campaign to make sure the important contributions of minorities, female figures, and the LGBT community make their way into the classroom, since they are often left out of the textbooks. He also helped found his school’s Feminism club and Gay-Straight Alliance. He says this sometimes prompts students to ask him if he’s gay (he’s not), which he uses to teach a valuable lesson: An issue doesn’t have to personally affect you to really matter. 

Nicholas is one of the many inspiring people selected as part of our Champions of Change campaign, which honors individuals who have made a difference in the lives of women and girls in the Metro New York area or globally.

Mikki Brammer