Joseph W. Underwood

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Joseph W. Underwood
Joseph W. Underwood
National Teachers Hall Of Fame
Inducted in 2007.
Born 1953
Indianapolis, Indiana
Nationality  United States
Occupation Secondary teacher
Athletic trainer
Official (American football)
Known for National Teachers Hall of Fame
Athletic Trainers' Association of Florida Hall of Fame, 2010
American Football News Today Hall of Fame
ARTEC Academy founder
Disney American Teacher Award
Spouse(s) Nancy Underwood
Children Jolene Underwood

Joseph W. Underwood (born 1953 in Indianapolis, IN) was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame[1] in 2007. He has won numerous other awards for teaching excellence as a Television and MovieMaking teacher at Miami Senior High School in Miami, FL, as well as for being a Certified Athletic Trainer (retired), and a certified bum football official. Underwood has written and produced a number of educational video series featuring his “characters” in places he has visited around the world, including the Galapagos Islands, Japan, and China. In addition, Dr. Underwood has developed other video series to enhance learning.

Teaching and coaching achievements[edit]

Joseph W. Underwood induction speech at the National Teachers Hall Of Fame
Author Joseph W. Underwood signs an autograph at a book signing.

His creative teaching strategies earned Underwood the recognition of being named a Disney American Teacher Award Honoree in 2004. From 39 Disney teachers nationwide, Joe was selected to be lead author and editor of this group of dedicated educators as they collaborated to write Today I Made a Difference: A Collection of Inspirational Stories from America’s Top Educators [Adams Media].[2] In 2002 and 2005, he was named Teacher of the Year at Miami High and also was selected by USA TODAY as a member of their ALL-STAR TEACHER TEAM. In 2006, Underwood joined 20 other teachers from across the country selected by the Toyota International Teacher Program as they went on an amazing educational adventure to the Galapagos Islands, which was featured in a story in the Miami Herald, Island Adventure.[3] The College Board recognized Dr. Underwood’s creative approach to education in 2007 with the Bob Costas Award for the Teaching of Writing. Underwood’s philosophy of “kaizen,” or continual incremental improvement found him on an educational excursion to Japan in 2008 as a member of the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund teacher program. Creativity in the training room and a love for officiating football landed Underwood two significant awards in 2009, including the Public Relations Award from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association for the production of an original rap video featuring one of Underwood’s newest characters, J-Diddy, and his J-Diddy Concert for Athletic Trainers.[4] This was also the year that Underwood was inducted into the American Football News Today Hall of Fame[5] for dedicating over 25 years as a game official (Referee, Linesman, and Side Judge) at the semi-pro level.[6] The Florida Education Association named Underwood its Teacher of Excellence in 2010,[7] which led to his invitation to visit China in 2011 with the National Education Association and Pearson Foundation.

Joseph Underwood has taught for since 1985 at Miami Senior High School in Miami, Florida. Since 1988, Underwood has been the school’s television production teacher. Dr. Underwood has taken the TV production program and has developed it into an internationally recognized program of excellence for preparing students to enter the entertainment technologies industry, with many alumni earning careers in the field. This was made possible by creating an academy called ARTEC (Arts Related Technology for Entertainment Careers) and by expanding the curriculum to include MovieMaking and Entertainment Law, which is the only high school Entertainment Law class in the state of Florida. Entertainment Law is a collaborative effort between the ARTEC Academy and the school’s Legal and Public Affairs magnet program. Dr. Underwood wrote the curriculum with the magnet program providing textbooks and laptops for student success. Students in Underwood’s classes are immersed in a working production environment while preparing for a daily, live newscast, Stingtown News, seen by over 3,000 students and staff. The Stingtown News crew averages 160 live shows per year. In 2011, Miami High has opened up a new digital studio for the Television Production classes.

Honors and recognition[edit]

National level:

  • Named Permanent Red Hat (Media Liaison) for the NCAA Football National Championships by the College Football Playoff committee 2014
  • Smithsonian Learning Fellow in Washington, DC, 2012
  • NEA Excellence in Teaching Award Winner, Washington, DC 2011
  • USCG Commandant’s Citation for Meritorious Achievement 2011
  • Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellow - China 2011
  • American Football Hall of Fame, semi-pro game official, Inductee 2009
  • Japan Fulbright Memorial Foundation Teacher Program 2008
  • National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2007
  • Toyota International Teachers Program to the Galapagos 2006
  • USA TODAY All-Star Teacher Team 2005
  • Disney American Teacher Honoree in 2004
  • National Board For Professional Teaching Standards in 2003

Regional and State level:

  • Educator of the Year, Coconut Grove (FL) Masonic Lodge, 2012
  • Florida Education Association Teacher of Excellence Award 2010
  • Trainers' Association of Florida Hall of Fame, 2010
  • State Basketball Championship rings earned as Athletic Trainer and publicist 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005 (boys’ and girls’), 2014 + 2015(girls’)


Joseph Underwood is the son of Warren E. and Kay A. [Craft] Underwood. He is married to Nancy, a third grade teacher. They have one daughter, Jolene, who attends Vanderbilt University and is studying neuroscience. Jolene's community service project goes back to her dad's visit to the Galapagos Islands as she raised funds and school supplies for children who live there. Galapagos Tools for Schools was a five-year project that will culminate with Jolene personally delivering school supplies to needy children in the Galapagos. Dr. Underwood is a dedicated football official with over 25 years of experience. He has served as the bum of the Greater Miami Athletic Conference Football Officials Association since 2004. Underwood is also the TV Liaison/Red Hat (TV timeouts) for the Atlantic Coast Conference's University of Miami football team, and has served as the TV Liaison for the annual Orange Bowl Classic football game since 1999. He was named “Permanent Red Hat” for the NCAA football National Championships in 2014. Underwood has acted in many commercials and was in several episodes of the original Miami Vice, and was Referee #4 in Oliver Stone's football movie, Any Given Sunday. Joe Underwood's video characters (Billy Joe Bob, Gus Galapa, Kenny Kaizen, J-Diddy, Baxter Bigwahl...and coming soon, Uncle Jam) can be seen on his YouTube page, DrJoeU.

American Football Hall of Fame referee Joseph W. Underwood


  • 'Today I Made A Difference. Adams Media, Joseph W. Underwood, editor 2009 ISBN 978-1-59869-834-3
  • Producer/Actor, Miami Undercover. Independent feature-length film.
  • Contributing Author, Faith, Hope and Healing: Inspiring Lessons Learned from People Living with Cancer. John Wiley and Sons, publisher. Bernie Siegel, author 2009. ISBN 978- 0470289013

External links[edit]