Hammer's innovative news gathering program has since been picked up by the Panasonic Corporation, which encourages students to learn about electronic news gathering on the elementary school level. More than 300 schools nationwide now participate in a KidWitness News program.
But there's another side to Hammer's life that isn't readily seen in Weehawken's classroom.
For the last 40 years, Hammer has dedicated a good portion of his life to his high school alma mater, St. Peter's Prep, as the school's special events coordinator. Whenever there is an alumnus function, like a reunion, or a social reception at the school, Hammer is omnipresent, setting up the cafeteria, serving drinks and greeting friends and guests.
"I really do enjoy it," Hammer said. "It's my way of spending my leisure time. Some people go to a gym to work out or something. I go to the Prep cafeteria. The events are special and I just enjoy myself. I look forward going back there every time and seeing the dozens and dozens of students that come back and the faculty that I had when I went there. A lot of time has passed since I went there."
On May 4, the school rewarded Hammer for his years of dedication and service by presenting him with the inaugural Brother Paul Harrison, S.J. Award for distinguished service to the alma mater at the school's Hall of Fame Awards for Professional Achievement and Distinguished Service.
The awards banquet took place at the Liberty House in Jersey City. Hammer was 10 honorees at the dinner. Other notables to receive awards that evening were respected actor Philip Bosco, noted author Tom Fleming, legendary basketball coach Bob Hurley and former Jersey City deputy mayor William Macchi.
"I was very surprised when I heard they were honoring me, especially with that list of inductees," Hammer said. "I was very honored to be part of the inaugural group. That made it even more special. I knew Brother Paul very well and when you know the person that you're receiving the honor in memory of, that makes it even more rewarding."
1968 and on
Hammer graduated from St. Peter's Prep in 1968 and moved on to St. Peter's College. Upon graduating from SPC, Hammer first taught at St. Joseph's School in Jersey City, before moving on to Weehawken in the 1970s and has remained in the district ever since, helping to initiate the KidWitness News program that is now a model for so many other schools across the country.
Hammer first got involved with setting up for special events in the Prep cafeteria as a work/study job while attending St. Peter's College. He has not stopped since.
John Feeney, who was one of Hammer's former students at St. Joseph's School, then went on to Prep and is now one of the more influential alumni in the school, presented Hammer with the award.
"It really was a very special night for me," Hammer said. "I was reading the biographies of all the inductees and wondered what I was doing there. To be included in a group with actors, authors and doctors is really amazing. It was nice to receive well wishes from people whom I didn't even know. It was a good feeling. When you look at St. Peter's Prep and all that tradition and to have that tradition honor you is really incredible."