WARREN, NJ - Some 79 students were honored at the 41st Induction Ceremony of the Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) in the school’s Performing Arts Center (PAC), and as a part of the same ceremony, the inducted students heard from WHRHS Physics Teacher Matthew Dellibovi, who was selected by vote of the inducted students as the 2019-2020 NHS Teacher of the Year.
Tamara Hadzic and Emma Kotar introduced him.
“Mr. Dellibovi was my physics teacher last year, and he quickly demonstrated his down-to-earth and helpful personality,” said Hadzic. “He is always willing to provide assistance to students both in and outside of class, and goes out of his way to make time with him fun and inclusive. I will never forget when he showed us the “Lobster Magnet” music video during the magnetism unit. Mr. Dellibovi also showed his dedication in preparing the Physics I team for the monthly Science League exams. He helped us understand new material after school every week, provided snacks and tea, and made sure we were well-prepared and confident to take the tests.”
She continued: “He even gave us Positions of Dubious Merit to make Science League more fun, such as Minister of Sleep Deprivation and Minister of War. Mr. Dellibovi also gives the best life advice. He helped me get through junior year, whether it was searching for colleges to apply to, reassuring me when I got bad grades, or just cheering me up when I was feeling down. His dedication to each student’s happiness and success is why I believe Mr. Dellibovi deserves Teacher of the Year.”
Kotar agreed, saying: “On paper, many students would be bored when studying physics. It requires a deep understanding of both conceptual concepts and math in order to succeed. However, Mr. Dellibovi made this challenging subject interesting and truly fun. Every day in both my junior year and senior year, I look forward to Mr. Dellibovi’s physics class and the new content we are going to learn. There is never a dull day, from flying pigs to the lab data hall of fame. Mr. Dellibovi inspires the students to study and learn physics, and makes sure every student is confident in their abilities.”
She continued, “Mr. Dellibovi goes the extra mile, offering extra help after and before school and truly cares for every one of his students and wants them to succeed. Mr. Dellibovi has helped me learn physics, find colleges to apply to, and learn more about myself. Mr. Dellibovi has helped me immensely as a person and a student, and I cannot express how much he deserves Teacher of the Year.”
Dellibovi responded first with a heartfelt note of thanks: “I am sincerely grateful and humbled that you have chosen me to receive this honor. It means more to me than any other recognition, because it comes from you, my students.”
He thanked the students for giving him their trust: “You trusted me to challenge you and to push you to go even further, to help you back up when you fell and to tell you the uncomfortable truth when you needed to hear it. When you questioned yourself, you used me as a sounding board and valued my advice. When you were overwhelmed or frustrated, you came to me for consolation and just to vent.”
Dellibovi urged seniors to resist the urge in their last semester at WHRHS to fall prey to “senioritis.” Instead, he championed the plan to use that time to “take control of your learning, of your life.”
He gave suggestions of how to broaden horizons: “Do something wild, unexpected and extraordinary this year just because you can. Solve every problem in your physics book. Read Shakespeare’s complete works just for fun. Do independent research. Explore new ways to serve and help others. In short, take control of your own narrative. Embrace the uncertainty, the mystery, and the beautiful journey of self-discovery. Nobody says it will be easy, but it will be worth it. In fact, it’s the only thing worth doing.”
Beyond just exploring externally, Dellibovi urged students to explore within: “View yourself as a work-in-progress always. It never ends. The real goal is doing the work, not completing the work. If you always view yourself as an unfinished product, you will always have a purpose, will never lack of new ideas, will never stop growing.”
In advocating the students to explore their passions and engage in honest self-reflection, Dellibovi quoted a poet he called his favorite, T.S. Eliot: “We shall never cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
In closing, Dellibovi said: “From the bottom of my heart, thank you again for honoring me as NHS Teacher of the year. I am overwhelmed by your appreciation and recognition. You are amazing individuals and I wish you all the best now and in the future.”