As a member of Montclair State University’s undefeated 1960 football team, Emanuel “Manny” Scrofani learned the importance of being versatile and inspiring players to reach their potential.
“Everything was centered on team building and all of that transferred beautifully to education,” he says.
For more than four decades, Scrofani improved education at every level, driving innovation for classrooms, school districts, teachers and school boards.
Scrofani, who joined the College of Education and Human Services Advisory Board in 2018 and received this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award, says he values his college experience and is impressed by Montclair State’s continued program quality and innovation.
“Montclair State is way out front in terms of its creativity in helping teachers succeed,” he says. “They understand kids, they understand learning and they understand what teachers will need in order to survive in this complex society.”
Scrofani grew up in the inner city of Newark, commuting by trolley to what was then Montclair State College to earn a degree in business education. After teaching for a couple years at East Side High School in Newark, he headed west in search of work.
California was growing so fast, Scrofani quickly found a job near Malibu, where “I could look out and see the ocean while I was teaching.”
After two years, Scrofani shifted into administration, became an expert at helping teachers grow, working with researchers at UCLA and Stanford University to implement new curriculum approaches on the school level.
Looking for a way to have a bigger impact, Scrofani took on education staff development for the entire state, helping secure $100 million in funding to integrate technology in the classrooms during the 1980s.
Having worked at the school level and state level for more than two decades, Scrofani turned his focus to the district level, working as superintendent in Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley before becoming a professor focused on training teachers.
Before retiring in 2005, Scrofani developed training programs, videos and wrote a book for the California School Boards Association, guiding citizens to navigate their stewardship of local schools effectively.
“I never forgot that the primary motivation for me was to be a teacher and improve learning and that was true whether it was in the classroom, talking to legislators, working with school boards or teaching doctoral students as a professor,” Scrofani says. “If you always think like a teacher, you can’t go wrong.”