LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Scott Duff

Position: Art Teacher / Director of Service Learning, K-12
School: Hoboken Charter School
School District: Hoboken Public Schools
City, State: Hoboken, NJ

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Scott Duff (S.K) was nominated by a colleague, Patricia Hall, as well as Marni Fylling, Valerie Sessa, and Chase Leyner, three parents of students. The following profile combines text from all nominations.

Mr. Duff is a champion of the arts, youth engagement, and social justice. He is a force for education in his school. Many children have art teachers, but S.K. is not your normal art teacher. He has won numerous awards for his teaching ability. Locally, he was recognized as Teacher of the Year at Hoboken Charter School. At the state level, he received the New Jersey Governor's State Teacher's Award. Nationally, he has won awards such as the Walt Disney HAND awards, top 100 creative teachers in America, and ranked as the #2 teacher in America by the P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children's Education.

In addition, he is accomplished in his own right as a practicing artist, poet, actor, and performance artist. He has not only had his own gallery exhibits, but he has also curated shows, including a show featuring his students’ work in a gallery. Mr. Duff has been a gallery director and an art critic, too. His students’ art is professional-looking, regardless of their artistic talents.

“More than once, as we have carried artwork home, people have stopped us on the street to find out where we got it and if they could buy it,” Sessa said. “When he hangs the children's art in the school, it looks like a professional gallery show. My children have learned not just how to create art, but how to appreciate and critique art, which has been fun for the entire family as we visit galleries and museums and the girls serve as teachers to us.”

"I first met S.K. Duff when my daughter, who is now a senior in high school, began kindergarten," said Leyner. "S.K. saw her talent and nurtured her gifts, giving her a confidence and true sense of self.  She will be attending college as an art major, and I attribute her success to him.  I know we are not alone in feeling that through his unique voice, S.K. has shaped the lives of all his students through art and creativity. What truly sets his art program apart, is his use of projects and experiences that bring awareness to community, poverty and struggle."

In addition to teaching art, S.K. has another side to him through his role as the Director of Service Learning at HCS. He has traveled to Mexico, Peru, and various places in Africa to help with clean water initiatives, build health centers, etc. These trips serves as an impetus for his own art, the art of the students, and other classroom initiatives. He creates curriculum based on civil rights, homelessness, and the world water crisis, to name a few issues. Then he creates, organizes, and runs events around these topics that the children, parents, and community have the opportunity to participate in. If that isn't enough, he then provides his curricula and trains teachers across the country.

It’s this kind of activism that led SK to meet his colleague and nominator, Patricia Hall, at the 2007 National Youth Leadership Conference in Albuquerque, NM. Hall had recently founded H2O for Life, whose mission is to provide water and sanitation for partner schools in the developing world. At the same conference, S.K. met a young Tanzanian teacher who told him of the struggles of not having enough water for his students, and the fact that there were no toilets at his school. His students were constantly ill, and the task of collecting water literally fell on the backs of girls, which kept them from attending school. S.K. was determined that he and his students could take on this problem and make a difference. In the 2007- 2008 school year, S.K. joined forces with H2O for Life. For the past decade, S.K. has worked with H2O for Life to educate his students about the global water crisis and the local and global impact of water. Through his initiative, Hoboken Charter School has provided funding that has changed the lives for thousands of kids in developing countries, and has impacted the lives of Hoboken students and their community.

S.K. thoroughly studies an issue thoroughly and learns everything he can so that he can share accurate and compelling information with his students. Once he realized the impact of the global water crisis, he became a champion. He is a Water Warrior! He believes that everyone should have a safe drink of water and a toilet; and he inspires his students to change the circumstances for a partner school, one school at a time. His students have spoken at high profile World Water events. S.K and one of his students spoke on World Water Day several years ago at a church in New York. Although there were many high profile speakers on the podium, the most compelling speeches of the day came from S.K. and his student, Jonah. The crowd was amazed at the knowledge and passion of both of them. He also spoke at another World Water Day event at the United Nations. Water and Sanitation (and H2O for Life) have become a large part of Hoboken Charter School. In fact, S.K. was instrumental in making sure that water is now included as a focus of study in their school charter documents.

Another example of S.K’s activism relates to the Holocaust. After a number of lessons on genocide from the Holocaust to Darfur, the students embarked on making sun-catchers to sell. With the profits from the sun-catcher sales, they purchased “solar cookers” to prepare breakfast for a parent association meeting, charging a small fee for the solar-cooked meal. The money raised from the breakfast supported the Solar Cooker project as initiated by the UN and Jewish World Watch. The students’ fundraising purchased solar cookers for women and children living in refugee camps in Chad. The cookers helped them to be self-sustaining and kept them from having to leave the camps to collect fire wood.

Finally, S.K is the "artsbridge coordinator" for middle school students at HCS. In this role, he teaches courses that are both art and service-learning based. Two recent examples were "You Go Girl," marrying art and feminism to empower middle school girls, and "Monkey Business: An Answer to Apathy,” to address issues related to the humane treatment of animals. In this role, he also hires and supervises outside teaching artists to teach courses as well. S.K. accomplishes all of this in a nurturing atmosphere. He loves working with children, and to be an art teacher was a life-long dream of his.

“I believe that S.K. Duff embodies all the values of a LifeChanger of the Year: a professional in his own right who has chosen a path of not just a fully participating citizen, but as a leader within his school/community and across the nation and world, making differences in children's lives through the joining of volunteering, service learning, and art,” Sassa said.

“Mr. Duff's wonderful programs are a big draw for many parents who choose Hoboken Charter School,” Fylling said. “We are fortunate to have a teacher who feels so deeply and works so tirelessly to nurture each individual child and to engage them in so many aspects of the issues around them, with wonder and joy. They make beautiful art, but they are also learning to create a better world.”

Comments (62)

Deirdra Grode Posted over a year ago

For the past almost fifteen years, I have had the pleasure and honor of working with S.K. Duff at the Hoboken Charter School. He started at our school as academic support and soon after became our school’s art teacher and eventually the Director of Service Learning as well. Mr. Duff has been a gift to the school in all of these roles. An invaluable member of our school community, he is revered by the students, faculty and families alike. Not only is he tremendously hard working but he is also exceptionally talented and bright. His commitment to providing a stellar, academically rigorous education is remarkable. Becoming globally conscious citizens of the world is a goal Mr. Duff holds for all of his students which is evidenced in the variety of artists they explore in his classes. Students study art from around the world and art produced by artists within historically marginalized groups in addition to studying the work of more mainstream artists. Mr. Duff also embeds character education, social justice education and service learning into his instruction regularly. Mr. Duff not only weaves social justice awareness building and service learning opportunities into his lessons across grade levels, but he serves as a leader and source of support for the staff in their integration of service learning into coursework across grades and curricula. He has led trainings with our staff, he models service learning teaching and he is available for providing guidance for our teachers. In addition to Mr. Duff’s collaborative work with the teachers, he coordinates reoccurring schoolwide events that are important to our school and community such as Water Wings, Empty Bowls and the HCS March for Justice as well as numerous events that have emerged in response to events that have had a negative impact on the lives of children in our community and around the world. Mr. Duff is a gem of an educator and man and truly a life changer! Deirdra Grode, Executive Director of Hoboken Charter School

Alyson Brooks Posted over a year ago

When I hear about the lessons S.K. Duff teaches, it makes me wish I could go back in time and be a student in his class! He is not only an amazing art teacher, but he is an incredible "life" teacher as well. As he helps develop his student's artistic expression through many creative and fun projects, he is also helping to open their eyes, minds and hearts to the world around them. His lessons teach students empathy, compassion and love - for all humanity as well as the planet we share. His lessons teach that everyone, no matter how young, can be a force for good in this world. His lessons teach the sentiments of Martin Luther King, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' In these troubled times, we need more teachers like S.K. Duff who are truly dedicated to shaping the hearts and minds of the next generation to be strong, caring, kind, compassionate, engaged, aware, members of society. His students will be better people and they will help make this world a better place because of all they learned from their teacher, S.K. Duff.

Hollie Saborido Posted over a year ago

S.K. Duff is beyond deserving of the life-changer title. He is an educator, a mentor, an activist, and so much more. His compassion and determination shines through all that he sets forth to accomplish in bettering the world around him. S.K. works tirelessly as an educator, creating enriching lessons and activities that empower his students to appreciate the diversity in the world, to find beauty in the simplest of things, to stand up for what they believe in, to accept and love themselves as individuals, and to always lend a helping hand to those I need.

Jennifer Thompson Posted over a year ago

I can't tell you how many lives S.K. Duff has touched with his inventive art lessons that drive children to not only learn about other cultures but immerse themselves. His lessons expand into social pleas for so many that don't have the means to get their voices heard. People that now have water because of S.K. plythe. The children not only learn to embrace other cultures but dare to dream about the bigger picture of giving back the others. Reaping the benefits that helping others brings. If all teachers could have 1/2 his passion and commitment our world would be a better place and our children could change the world!!!

Patty Hall Posted over a year ago

SK Duff is an incredible reacher and a champion of social justice. He provides a wide variey of service opportunities to open the eyes snd hearts of youth and inspires ACTION. I know he has impacted the lives of thousands of youth and his broad local/global community. He would be the right choice for the Lifechanger of the Year award

Laura Lou Levy Posted over a year ago

I know SK as the incredible creative force and positive energy he is, and which he brings, to everything and everyone he touches. I am always deeply impressed with the exciting, ground-breaking work he shares from his classrooms, and of course with his own vivid and transformative professional art-making. He deserves to be acknowledged as LifeChanger of the Year!

Allison Posted over a year ago

S.K. Is my uncle, and for as long as I can remember he has taught me so much about the arts, different cultures, acceptance of others, expanding my knowledge on different religious, how to positively help your community, ect. He does so many projects to help better the community like empty bowls, but not only his community, other countries too, like H2O for life!! He Is an awesome role model for not only kids but adults too. Not only is he such a positive role model, he is a Life Changer!

Susan Bonina Posted over a year ago

I have known SK for over 20 years. I had the good fortune of working with him in the corporate world many years ago in NYC and we have kept in touch ever since. He is an inspiration in so many ways. Whatever challenge he takes on - whether in the corporate world, the art world, or as an educator - his passion and dedication shine through. He enriches not only the lives of his students, but the lives of parents, other educators and the lives of anyone who is fortunate enough to meet or work with him. His commitment to whatever cause he takes on is real and heartfelt, and the wonderful values he shares with others through his teaching and civic action is so very admirable.

Marcia Weber Posted over a year ago

I met SK Duff 15 years ago when he came to Alabama during his Summer vacation to visit living self-taught artists in their environments. He was passionate about experiencing Southern culture and absorbing whatever he could share with his students. His dedication to striving to be a better teacher was evident and unforgettable. With more teachers like him, the world would be a much better place!

Maureen Haqq Posted over a year ago

We are very proud and grateful to this amazing man for his dedication to the H2O for Life program. He changes students' lives both at home and around the world! Job well done!

Samantha Geracht Posted over a year ago

Mr. Duff is the role model and educator we all wish for our children. His tireless commitment to his students, the outstanding quality of arts education, and the boundless commitment to social justice is a unique and incomparable life changer. Mr. Duff is a LifeChanger because he is able to show students how to embody the values they are learning as a role model and as the educator who can show them how to become the world citizens they wish to be.

Patty Hall Posted over a year ago

SK is a remarkable teacher and a champion of social justice! He is truly a life-changer. i know he has changed my life. His friendship and dedication that has led us to a 10 year partnership means the wirld to me. His contribution of lesson plans and art related to the water crisis have been shared by him and have been used by teachers nationwide.

Karen Savacool Posted over a year ago

I met S.K. a few years ago, and was amazed by his (positive) energy, compassion and love of life and children especially! He never seems to slow down, and I am always seeing his posts concerning the arts, his school programs & events, his students and community. He is such a love, and I wish him all the best. It would be great to celebrate this wonderful, committed teacher and generous human being.

Steve Liggett Posted over a year ago

I first met SK Duff when I was giving a Raku workshop to his High School Art Class in Tulsa, OK. And as he matured I saw the artist in him grow and develop over the years. I hired him three summers while he went to school to teach at the first "Arts Camp" when I was the Director for Johnson Atelier. His projects even then were fun, but thought provoking with the children and we became good friends. I invited SK to do what most likely was the first truly "performance art" event in Tulsa in the early 80s and when I visited him in New York, he educated me to some of the most progressive work being done there at the time. I can say without a doubt that his life/work has affected my life/work profoundly. We have shown together in several exhibitions and SK invited my family to participate in "Art Children/Art Selves". But, it was seeing Meredith Monk during a trip to see SK that convinced me to become an arts advocate and as a result I reorganized Living Arts of Tulsa, a non-profit contemporary arts organization becoming it's Artistic Director for 26 years. During my tenure there, I presented SK Duff in 3 one-man exhibitions and invited him to teach a workshop and give a lecture to the Tulsa Public Schools Art Instructors. SK is truly dedicated to making the world a better place to live through turning people on to their own creativity. He has always been an inspiration to me and all those who are around him.

Patty Hall Posted over a year ago

S.K. You have impacted the lives of thousands of kids! Providing opportunities for youth to be leaders, collaborators, communicators and philanthropic is truly changing our world for the better!

Michelle Pinamonti Posted over a year ago

I had the pleasure with working across the hall from S.K. during my first year as a teacher. He was a great support and help for me in my first year as a teacher and I will never forget his good nature, kindness, and assistance. I was always so impressed with the amazing artwork he helped his students produce. Even more than that I was astounded by how he was able to incorporate service learning, character education, and global awareness so seamlessly into his arts curriculum. The hard work and dedication that it took him to run service and arts events for the school is truly amazing. I am sure that he changed the lives of every single student that entered his classroom not only by making them better artists but by making them caring, considerate, and socially aware human beings. It was such an honor to teach with him for the short time that I did.

Catherine Riedel Posted over a year ago

I have never met a person more committed to public service, service learning and personal growth. Mr. Duff is tireless in his efforts and programs and his approach to everything that he does is infused with unparalleled creativity. He is someone I greatly admire and my life is enriched by knowing him.

Katherine McGlynn Posted over a year ago

Everytime I visit HCS I am amazed with SK Duff's student art work. He has inspired me to go back to making NY own art work. I am disabled and he has enriched my life.

Helen Cunning Posted over a year ago

LifeChanger??? I found your man. SK Duff is a sheer force of everything that is great in our world. He is more than smart, kind and accomplished, he is a true example of how to live an authentic life. The passion he brings to his work with HCS students and colleagues is evident to all. SK is the teacher we all wished we had and we are all better for knowing him.

stella aurora Posted over a year ago

SK has been an amazing influence on both my kids who had the privilege to be his pupils. He has shown them ways to see and approach life that a parent probably can not. Thanks to his immense patience and inspritational dedication my kids make a bit more sense of the world and often look at it through the eyes of the artist in them.

Tanja Pejovic-Loncar Posted over a year ago

For almost nine years we are witnessing how Mr. Duff inspires kids to be themselfs, to be free, and to be creative. There is no right or wrong,there is only passion and dedication in his teaching. Days with art class in their schedules my kids refer to as "a great day'". We are especially impressed by topics that Mr. Duff choses for his middle school art courses. He combines art teaching with service learning and encourages kids to be responsible members of the society. Thank you Mr. Duff!

Chris Miley Posted over a year ago

S.K. Duff is one of a kind. He is a treasure in a world of bigotry, hate& judgement. He goes the extra mile to provide his students & all of those around him the excitement of learning how different cultures all have work h & beauty. His life has not always been easy but he has arose above it and is truly a Life Changer.

Joanne Hofsess Posted over a year ago

There is always that one teacher in school that you will always cherish and remember. I know that my fourth and sixth graders will always remember Mr. Duff. Mr. Duff truly embodies our school's philosophy of service learning. He has taught my children to appreciate not only art and history, but diversity, different cultures, and being kind to your fellow man (and woman). At the end of the day, it's not how much money you make or the amount of material possessions you have, but are you a kind and decent human being that contributes to the welfare of society. I know that my children are on this path having known Mr. Duff.

stella aurora Posted over a year ago

SK has been an amazing influence on both my kids who had the privilege to be his pupils. He has shown them ways to see and approach life that a parent probably can not. Thanks to his immense patience and inspritational dedication my kids make a bit more sense of the world and often look at it through the eyes of the artist in them.

Sally Robertson Posted over a year ago

SK impacts not only the lives and perspectives of his students but also their parents. I am the grateful and inspired parent of three children who have been blessed to have SK as their teacher. He has been their art teacher, their speech teacher, their service learning teacher and so much more. They have confronted every "ism" imaginable in their work with SK and learned that they can be a voice to confront racism and sexism and any other "ism" that they meet in their journey through life. They are taught about profoundly important issues from kindergarten up. At every step the lessons are age-appropriate while equipping these very young children with a perspective in life that will change the way they live and the way that they treat others throughout their life time. Whether they are making posters for the annual MLK march organized by SK or writing poems that address racism or sexism or homelessness, SK teaches his students how incredibly important their voices are and how to use them to stand up for what matters in the local and global community. He teaches them - and by his example shows them - how we each can make a difference. My 18 year old daughter went on a high school trip to South Africa last year as part of a global leadership program and I know that the seeds for her passion for that project were planted during her years as a student of SK's. My 11 year old son is still a student of SK's and, on the walks home from school, he will talk enthusiastically about the things he is studying with him. Art is made but so much more is learned in the process. A few years ago our school had an awful fire and SK lost so much in the fire. His classroom was a vibrant display of his life and passions and so many of his memories and treasures were lost that day. His classroom was a visual representation of all the causes he holds dear and the trips he had taken throughout his life. SK doesn't "vacation" - he travels and he brings back lessons and treasures from each trip that add a new level of meaning and depth to his lessons. Our children are the very blessed recipients of his experience and his zest for learning and life. I started by saying how SK also inspires the parents of his students. When I talk to SK or read his posts on Facebook, I am in awe of how fully he embraces life. He does more in a single weekend than I do in a month. He is constantly creating or engaging in creative experiences. He lives life to the full and as a passionate and engaged citizen not only of our school community but of the global community. I often imagine the awards that his students will receive during their lives for contributions they make in their chosen fields of work and I know that they will think of SK when they receive those awards because they will remember the impact he had on their life and the incredibly important life lessons he taught them. I could not be more grateful to have SK in my children's lives and in my own. The artwork created by my theee children during the past fourteen years which hangs on the walls of our home provide a visual reminder of his impact on our lives. The way in which my children view the world and have viewed it since such a young age - thanks to SK's impact - makes me feel even more blessed that he has been and continues to be in our lives.

Liz Szabla Posted over a year ago

S.K. Duff is a gifted educator who teaches what so many schools don’t, won’t, or no longer have time for: Empathy and ways to open our eyes to the world around us. My son does not consider himself an “artist,” but what SK taught him is the ways in which art helps us see life and vice versa. He can speak about art decisively and relate it to the “real” world, which is wonderful to see. He understands the joy, angst, and/or other emotions that inspire art and creativity, and that leads to heightened empathy. Art is part of the circle of life, and SK has the skill, the gift, of inspiring young people to be part of that circle.

Joanne Hofsess Posted over a year ago

There is always that one teacher in school that you will always cherish and remember. I know that my fourth and sixth graders will always remember Mr. Duff. Mr. Duff truly embodies our school's philosophy of service learning. He has taught my children to appreciate not only art and history, but diversity, different cultures, and being kind to your fellow man (and woman). At the end of the day, it's not how much money you make or the amount of material possessions you have, but are you a kind and decent human being that contributes to the welfare of society. I know that my children are on this path having known Mr. Duff.

Lisa Carney Anderson Posted over a year ago

Though we have not seen each other in years, SK is very dear to me. Every day he is trying to repair the world through his creativity, his love of learning and his activism. I am proud so say he is my friend.

Phillip Miley Posted over a year ago

I have known SK for over 20 years. He is a lover and scholar of art and culture and the most selfless, giving, generous person I know. From being Santa Claus at an AIDS orphanage, to his work with clean water initiatives in the third world, to spending his evenings and weekends researching, networking, and preparing innovative and meaningful programs for his school, he always is giving every minute of his "free" time and every shred of his being to enriching the lives of his students and of people locally and around the world who are in need and less fortunate than the rest of us. If anyone I know deserves the title of Life Changer, it is SK.

Emi Savacool Posted over a year ago

S.K. is one of the most generous and big-hearted people I know. He is incredibly selfless and is always thinking of how his actions can benefit others. He is the embodiment of the word "compassion". S.K. is always striving for a better understanding of those who are different from him and searching for ways to use his talent and privilege as a boost for those less fortunate. Better yet, he is never patronizing. All people are equals to S.K.; regardless of their race, creed, or lot in life, they are all deserving of empathy, dignity, and respect. This empathy does not stop at the human race - S.K. is passionate about the rights and welfare of animals as well. At school, he has taught such courses as "Monkey Business", which teaches students about the humane treatment of animals. He practices what he preaches; his home is a safe place for wounded animals, and it seems like S.K. is always nursing a sad, broken kitten back to health or trapping strays to find them medical attention. S.K. emphasizes the importance of the arts, not only for emotional and spiritual enrichment in itself but as an effective tool for positive change in the world. There is no question of the power of art after you meet S.K.. His passion and enthusiasm is infectious; when he talks about his students or his service projects, he beams. The greatest gift that S.K. has to offer is his ability to make you feel like you have the power to make a difference. No matter what your unique set of skills or circumstances, S.K. teaches all he meets that your voice matters and your help is crucial, no matter what form it takes. S.K. is like a pebble dropped into a pond; his love and generosity ripples outward, endlessly multiplied as it empowers the people he meets, leaving the world a better place than it was before.

Deanna Hunt Posted over a year ago

I truly believe that SK Duff changed the trajectory of my oldest son's life, In 2009, Jake was entering 5th grade at Hoboken Charter School as a new student. Jake was leaving a school behind that had labeled him as "troubled" and having ADHD. The previous school had taken away Jake's voice and stripped him of his self esteem. Mr. Duff created a safe, nurturing environment for Jake that allowed him to find his voice and to regain and develop his self confidence. It began with Jake being enrolled in Mr. Duff's speech class (He teaches more than art!) The first speech assignment was to present a point of view on a current event topic. Mr. Duff provided a list of recommended topics to choose from, and I wish I would have kept the list because the topics were challenging and some controversial, especially for the 5th grade. I was impressed! The list was my introduction to Mr. Duff. I remember thinking without meeting him, "Wow, I like this teacher, I have to meet him!" Jake chose, from the list, to speak about Gay Marriage Rights. It was very timely for Jake because in a few short weeks he was going to be attending his Uncle's same sex commitment ceremony in North Carolina. I was so proud that my so-called "troubled" son had the confidence to speak out about gay marriage rights. I was also incredibly grateful that he had a teacher that was providing students with a safe, supportive environment to express their opinions about controversial topics! Jake enjoyed and excelled in Mr. Duff's speech class so much that when Mr. Duff offered an after school speech club, Jake enrolled. Unfortunately, not enough students enrolled to make it a class. I was so disappointed. Jake had finally found an activity he enjoyed and there was not going to be an opportunity to develop his skills. I wrote Mr. Duff (I had yet to meet him) and told him I was disappointed that the class was cancelled...not expecting anything, just expressing my disappointment. Instead of simply offering his apologies, Mr. Duff offered to create an after school program for Jake with a couple of students who he thought might also want to participate! The only caveat was that the students' commit to performing at the HCS summer concert, which they each did...performing a monologue, a poetry reading and singing. Jake (and the other 2 students) have since earned the lead roles in many theatrical and musical performances throughout their middle and high school years. They are each currently enrolled in universities in Georgia, Illinois and Ohio. Jake is just one story of the many, many lives Mr. Duff has touched deeply and forever changed. Jake's story is the one story I cherish and want to share because Mr. Duff was the one and only teacher who saw my son's unique gifts when it mattered most. SK Duff is a LifeChanger, changing lives of students, parents, co-workers, and friends, every minute of every day.

Alissa Modica Posted over a year ago

Both of my children, a 7th and 12th grader, have had the pleasure of having SK Duff as their art and service learning teacher. Under his tutelage they have been given the incredible gift of a solid foundation in the arts unlike many of their peers, who attend schools where art programs have unfortunately been phased out. Although neither child possesses great artistic talent, their appreciation and technical artistic knowledge never cease to amaze me. Art has been an essential part of their education and has opened their minds to creative thinking and alternate ways of viewing the world. SK’s service learning program has molded both children into civic-minded individuals. They care about the world and people around them and their empathy knows no bounds. He is a true humanitarian using art and service learning to teach the next generation to be good and loving individuals. In a world where chaos and lack of empathy seem to reign supreme, his lifelong dedication and devotion to his children at Hoboken Charter School literally changes their lives on a daily basis.

Gina Caulfield Posted over a year ago

one word about SK - inspiring two more words - forward thinking three more words - creative, soulful, caring

Patty Hall Posted over a year ago

S.K. Duff is an amazing teacher, mentor and human being! Thanks for sharing amazing lesson plans,creative ideas and giving your all for kids! You are definitely a life changer!

Randy Keenan Posted over a year ago

I know S.K. to be a fellow creative soul.

Mary Forell Posted over a year ago

Wonderful to watch SK empower children to change the world.

Jamal Milligan Posted over a year ago

S.K always is my life changer as well. He's so dedicated to helping others , changing lives whether by art or by his words. He's the catalyst of the changes in my whole perspective of life due to him living his own liberation. This man dedicates himself to changing others, opening up people's potential and teaching us to be better people. There's no one who is more deserving of Lifechanger of The Year, than this man here.

Kat Higgins Posted over a year ago

It has been over a decade since I taught with S.K but he still inspires my practice. His dedication to ensuring that students are linked into not their inner world and feelings as well as the society around them through art and activism is unparalleled. It was a joy teaching with him and it has been a joy following his work and that of H2O over the years!

Kate Virmani Posted over a year ago

SK is the embodiment of what it means to be a lifechanger, not just for a week, month or a year but rather in all he does day in, day out each and every year. The time and effort he puts forth working with and for children both within his school as well as further afield is truly to be admired. He seamlessly weaves critical life lessons into his art lessons and he inspires the children to choose compassion, kindness and hope is all they do. In my book this award is thoroughly deserved and I know he will continue to push for equality, fight for freedom and choice.

Patty Hall Posted over a year ago

As the new school year begins, we can't wait to see what SK Duff will add to his Water Wings event! Thanks SK for your work to educate youth to work together, lead and take action.

Lisa Posted over a year ago

My three children had the benefit of having SK Duff as their teacher at the Hoboken Charter School. Being very different from one another, they each were able to engage in his classes and service learning initiatives in their own way, deriving a variety of amazing experiences and learning under his guidance. He has brought some interesting programs to HCS that have become the fabric of who our students become as people-in a time when that is very needed in our world!

RoD? Posted over a year ago

SK is one dynamic being. An inspiring arts program director at Hoboken Chater School, as well as a selfless champion of the plight of the children of Africa. His art stands with the best and greatest. SK is not only a star for the children but star to us art instructors...

Gina Caulfield Posted over a year ago

SK is and always has been at the forefront of change, innovation and always bringing ideas that help everyone gain not only insight but true feeling for the art, the idea expressed and for the people around him.

Christine Miley Posted over a year ago

SK is an amazing man. His compassion for others is second to none. I am always amazed with the creative ways he uses to help others. SK creates, invites, and completes ways to incorporate his ideas with his students & parents. He teaches his students with the same passion that he shows when he finds a new cause to stand behind. These students, parents, school & community is blessed to have such a man. He teaches dignity, creativity, respect, compassion & love. He is a treasure for all who meet him.

Thalia Doukas Posted over a year ago

I agree with the commenters who've preceded me with their glowing endorsements of S. K. Duff, who is perhaps among the most over-qualified candidates on earth for the LifeChanger of the Year award. He is a magician and I am so touched by his commitment to communicate his many passions far and wide. He is not only worthy of this award, I'm sure he will become its champion. Long ago, my son (then age 6) and I were included in an innovative (and exciting!) group show S.K. devised where teams of adults and children exhibited collaborative art pieces they had made together. The show's opening reception was one of those rare opportunities for older and younger generation makers and appreciaters of art are able to celebrate and engage in conversation as equal partners. Energy, enthusiasm, and the purest kind of joy are what S.K.'s about. His bag of tricks overflows with ideas and ingenious, original project possibilities. His knowledge and understanding of art history and contemporary art and his commitment to social justce are inspiring. Since we re-connected on Facebook 2-3 years ago, I have enjoyed his photo albums of his students and thecwork he inspires them to do. As a presenter of intergenerational & community art-making events of my own, I am awed by the beautiful work that S.K.'s kids produce and I deeply appreciate the way he weaves serious social/political themes into everything he offers them so their own creative engines may be transformed - with humor, respect, and love. Please, please bestow this award on magical Mr. Duff so we can all see and be transformed by what he accomplishes on the wings of it!

Sally Cannon Reiter Posted over a year ago

Every school has a heart and a soul. The heart is always the administration, staff and teachers but Hoboken Charter School has a very kind, vibrant and ever giving soul in our Learning Service Director and Art Teacher S.K. Duff. His own love of learning and creating is "given" to our children through his teaching and his dedication to his craft. Children are allowed to "be" and this creates the environment for exploration of expression. He directs and guides as all good teachers do but in life as in art there are what I call "happy accidents"... when a child pushes their own expectations and explores. It's here growth occurs and Hoboken Charter School is lucky enough to have a soul that gives that space to our children. You see it all around in the halls, on their faces, in the other classrooms because the children are rooted in knowing expression of self is paramount in the process of learning. I know he is an Art Teacher but I feel that doesn't even cover it. It's more like the discovery of art and self teacher.

Sally Cannon Reiter Posted over a year ago

Every school has a heart and a soul. The heart is always the administration, staff and teachers but Hoboken Charter School has a very kind, vibrant and ever giving soul in our Learning Service Director and Art Teacher S.K. Duff. His own love of learning and creating is "given" to our children through his teaching and his dedication to his craft. Children are allowed to "be" and this creates the environment for exploration of expression. He directs and guides as all good teachers do but in life as in art there are what I call "happy accidents"... when a child pushes their own expectations and explores. It's here growth occurs and Hoboken Charter School is lucky enough to have a soul that gives that space to our children. You see it all around in the halls, on their faces, in the other classrooms because the children are rooted in knowing expression of self is paramount in the process of learning. I know he is an Art Teacher but I feel that doesn't even cover it. It's more like the discovery of art and self teacher.

Branislav Tomich Posted over a year ago

One need only walk the halls of Hoboken Charter to observe and feel that this is a place of extraordinary creativity and world vision. When I think of arts educators I have known and had the pleasure of working with, Scott Duff immediately comes to mind. I taught theater arts at Hoboken Charter and had the good fortune and delight to consider SK a colleague and a friend. I was always amazed and impressed by the variety of concepts and projects he invented; his dedication and the results these efforts produced. This may be about making 'art' but it is art in the most elevated and profoundly relevant sense: that of providing not only expression but subject matter that expands our world view. I have known and worked with many and can call only a few a master. SK is a masterful educator!

margo solod Posted over a year ago

I've known S.K since 96 when we met at a writing workshop in Vermont. I watched him grow as a teacher, seen the incredible things he's managed with the Hoboken school after the fire. I've watched the empty bowl project mature, seen pictures of his student artwork, and read the glowing praises of others. I'm proud he's my friend and appreciative of everything he does for the children who will be our future.

Michael Haupt Posted over a year ago

Congratulations SK!! If the world where filled with more people like SK, everyday would put a smile on your face. I have know SK for more than 30 years and I have never met a person who is more dedicated, passionate and gifted towards helping others achieve what many of us only dream.

Adam Posted over a year ago

SK Duff is an all-around marvel and I am fortunate to know him for 20+ years now! He has a clear passion for life, for learning, for creating, and for sharing - and this permeates everything he does, from his own artistic endeavors to his relentless efforts in the classroom to his nurturing of friendships. A tireless man, I truly do not understand all that he accomplishes. His students are, no doubt, more enriched, enlightened people because of the lessons he teaches - lessons in which he often uses the visual arts as a medium to teach about a variety of world cultures, peoples, ways of life, and the importance of social justice. SK employs highly progressive ideas in his lessons and challenges his students to go well beyond the expected. He shines in all that he does and so successfully combines his roles of Art Teacher and Director of Service Learning at Hoboken Charter School.

Beth Kilmer Posted over a year ago

SK and I became friends when we worked together over a five-year period at the Hoboken Charter School. SK is always able to find the beauty in things whether they are, in the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, "counter, original, spare, strange, whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) with swift, slow, sweet, sour, adazzle, dim." Through this gift he finds his ability to always strive for and often effect positive change.

Ian Smit Posted over a year ago

Until recently, SK and I lived a few blocks from each other. By shear coincidence, we ended up working as colleagues at Hoboken Charter School for the past 14 years. When commuting to Hoboken, getting stuck on the Pulaski Skyway trying to get to school on time in soul crushing morning traffic, one would gather that many a shared conversations of education, philosophy, politics, art, and music ensued. SK is an artist, a poet, an educator, and a humanitarian. He has lead a very interesting life, but it is teaching that has been his calling. As an art instructor, he combines world history, human/animal rights, current events and environmental concerns into his lessons. There are deep seeded reasons for inspiration and to why an artist creates his or her work, and SK conveys these sentiments to even his most youngest of students. Anyone can put a pen to paper, or a brush to a canvas, but what led them to get to that place? Trying to understand the intent, philosophy, and the "big picture," as well as, the technique is the essence of what SK presents to his students. In one particular unit, the students study various artists and their works such as Picasso, Frida, Warhol, Van Gogh, and many more of the old and new masters. The students researched the life history and the works of these artists and what made them significant. The students then taught their classmates about their chosen artist while actually dressing up as the depicted individual presenting their life's history. SK is the Service Learning Coordinator at school whose role is to facilitate and integrate the student's lessons regarding broad social topics into the curriculum, such as, civil rights through the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King; raising money for the local homeless shelter while students assist in food prep and music at the local shelter; and yet the students research socio-economic causes of poverty and homelessness in the classroom while brainstorming ways to solve such inequalities. Through SK's lead, the students raise money for H2O for Africa in an annual carnival event to provide clean drinking water for a designated African village while understanding how economic, political, and climate issues impact something we might take for granted like clean drinking water.. In fact, a couple of years ago, SK traveled to Kenya to work in a village to help provide shelter and work with the children at that village...The Dude walks the walk, indeed!

Kate Booth Posted over a year ago

Thank you for enhancing the lives of our US children and the children around the world. Global citizens!

Steve Hall Posted over a year ago

Congratulations SK! SK has been an A+ supporter of H2O for Life for 10 years! His work to educate his students about the global water crisis and having empathy for others has been remarkable. SK and his students have supported water and sanitation projects around the world that have changed and even saved the lives of thousands of children in developing countries. You are the best!

Patty Hall Posted over a year ago

S.K. Duff has been a long time colleague and friend for the past 10 years. We met through our shared passion surrounding the global water crisis, and our commitment to provide meaningful service-learning opportunities for youth. S.K. Duff has inspired hundreds of youth through his support of H2O for Life. Each year his students partner with a school in a developing country that desperately needs water. Students investigate the need, and plan and implement actions to raise fund that provide water and sanitation to their partner school He is educating a generation of youth to be global citizens who are changing the world. S.K.'s use of art engages his students to think big, be creative, collaborate and communicate their learning to their fellow students and their broader community. S.K. is indeed a LifeChanger!

C Miley Posted over a year ago

Congratulations SK..All your many years and hard work making children's lives richer and with empathy, compassion and understanding for that big diverse world is well recognized. The hundreds of children that passed through your classroom and events, have been changed for life. They understand and are committed to making our society and the world in general a much fairer, empathetic and richer . You are amazing, putting so much of your personal evenings. weekends and holidays into research, planning, prep and set up for your lessons and the service learning events. I know you often spend your own money because there is often not a budget to do what you know has to be done to present the very best experiences for your children. And beyond this, you have traveled to Africa and Mexico to help build need facilities for those native peoples. Bravo! The lives you have touched will , like ripples from a tossed stone in the water, go out into the vast world and in turn touch other lives and make great differences in many other lives. Thank you for all you do, Always 500%

Christine Sheedy Posted over a year ago

Through the combination of learning about and appreciating art in all its forms alongside the service learning curriculum that helps students understand how they fit and affect the world around them, SK Duff has not just helped my children learn information, he's also helped them learn how to be good humans. I'm constantly amazed at their perspective on the world, their curiosity about the beauty in it, and their commitment to making it a better place. As a parent, I want to take full credit for that. As a realist, I know I cannot and I truly appreciate everything SK does to help them become well-informed and caring participants in their local and global communities.

Lauren C. Posted over a year ago

S.K. Duff is an important teacher, mentor, role model and friend to my children, and our entire family. He demonstrates through lesson and example and action how every person, no matter their age or size, can do something to effect positive change throughout our world in a meaningful way. And, he teaches us all how to express ourselves through words and art with love and humanity.

Christine Koelsch Posted over a year ago

I had the pleasure of working with SK Duff, and he is truly an inspiration to not only his students but everyone who is fortunate enough to be in his company. A well deserved award for not only an amazing teacher, but an amazing person.

Russell Kriegel Posted over a year ago

SK Duff is a unique and highly creative educator who brings out the best in every student in our school. As a practicing Architect and student of the arts, I have found his curriculum to be highly sophisticated and engaging. He compares favorably to the best teachers I have seen at every level of education. My three children continue to thrive with his love and support. I am thrilled to support him for this award.

Kate Hahn Posted over a year ago

Mr Duff has been so inspiring for our kindgergarten son and makes him so happy to go to school. Wednesday is now his favorite weekday because he has art. He loves the work he is doing in Mr. Duff's class and we put up a gallery to display his art because it is so amazing. Mr.Duff provides them with the background as to the subject they are working on, whether it's a book or social cause and makes it understandable even for a kindergartener. My son received a frame as a holiday gift and instead of putting a picture in it, he wanted to make his list of famous artists with Mr. duff first. He is such a special part of many children's beginning studies of art and what a great beginning.