Minga M. Cullen is a retired educator and reading specialist who dedicated more than four decades of her career to promoting literacy and accessible education to students of all ages. Since the age of three, her life goal was to become a teacher, and she took inspiration and support from her grandmother’s own career in education. Ms. Cullen attended Fairleigh Dickinson University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1972, and began her career teaching at the elementary level. After eight years as a classroom teacher, she took a break from working to care for her two children, but quickly found herself missing the challenges and fast pace of the school environment.
Ms. Cullen returned to work as an instructor for Literacy Volunteers of America of Huntington County, where she spent the next 13 years, eventually rising to become the organization’s executive director. As executive director, she supervised all aspects of the program’s operations, including grant writing and administrative oversight, while remaining active in working with the clients it served. During her time with Literacy Volunteers of America of Huntington County, Ms. Cullen worked with incarcerated adults and trained staff and volunteers to work as reading tutors, increasing their talent pool from 25 tutors to more than 200. She left the organization to return to a public education setting, and would spend the rest of her career as a reading specialist and special education teacher for Franklin Township Public Schools.
Ms. Cullen taught special education students from kindergarten through eighth grade as a classroom assistant and resource center teacher. In both settings, she supported teachers in delivering adaptive instructional materials and strategies to better serve students with special educational needs, building on her time as a classroom teacher and her experience with the Literacy Volunteers of America. She continued her professional development throughout her career, earning a master’s degree in educational leadership at The College of New Jersey in 2002 and a Master of Education in reading from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education in 2012.
As a part of her commitment to her profession and the students she served, Ms. Cullen helped the district re-establish its participation in the National Honors Scholarship Program and has been a featured speaker and panelist at national teacher conventions. In recognition of her work, she has been the recipient of honors including a 1992 Celebrate Literacy Award, the New Jersey Reading Association 1993 Literacy Award, and the 2005 New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Recognition Award. She has also been named an Alice Leper Affiliate of the Year and a Connie Hindle Affiliate of the Year.
In 2021, Ms. Cullen retired from full-time work. She credits her success to her drive to do the best at anything she tries, and to her commitment to being an advocate for others. She considers the highlight of her career to be the relationships that she built with her colleagues and students, and continues to take pride in hearing about her former students’ lives and accomplishments. During her career, Ms. Cullen was active in the Quakertown Community Education Association, the National Education Association, and served as a union president for more than a decade. She looks forward to remaining active in community education in her retirement, emphasizing the need for youth reading and mathematics tutors, and hopes to work with Afghan immigrants as an English language teacher.