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Statehouse ceremony honors exemplary teachers

Michael Flynn, a second grade teacher at the William E. Norris Elementary School in Southampton, has been named the 2007-2008 Massachusetts Teacher of Year.

Flynn was recognized in a June 21 Statehouse ceremony. Additionally, Ann O'Halloran, a fourth grade teacher at the Newton's Angier School, was named the state's 2007 Preserve America History Teacher of the Year.

"Teachers have the ability to transform the lives of their students -- to open new doors, to challenge their minds, and to give them the tools to overcome even the greatest challenges," said Gov. Patrick at the recognition ceremony. "The teachers we honor today have touched the lives of their students and they should be proud of the lasting impact they have made."

Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi agreed, and lauded the accomplishments of all educators across the state.

"Teachers are the true champions of our education system," Murray said. "They open up a world of opportunities for our children, and their commitment and influence should not be underestimated."

DiMasi agreed: "Putting highly qualified and motivated teachers in every classroom in the Commonwealth is one of the true gifts we can give our children. The teachers we honor here today and the many like them around the state are a shining example of the passion and commitment required to guarantee our children the quality education they need to succeed in today's society."

"Mike approaches teaching with a level of intellectual curiosity and commitment to the field of education that should be the standard for our profession," wrote fellow teacher Anne O'Reilly in a letter of recommendation. "His infectious enthusiasm for teaching and natural leadership qualities, combined with his professional knowledge and skill make him a clear choice for Massachusetts Teacher of the Year."

O'Halloran, of Waltham, has been a Newton history teacher for 22 years. She is highly regarded among other educators for her creative curricula and innovative ways of bringing history to life to keep her students engaged. For the past 15 years she has been co-teaching American History to fourth and fifth grade inclusive classrooms, making the necessary accommodations for the up to one-third of her students with severe special needs.

"Ann has the ability to motivate students and she inspires them each day by making sure that they feel successful and motivated to learn more about a topic," wrote Angier School Principal Pamela Appleton in her letter of recommendation. "The creativity in her teaching opens the way for access to all students."

The 2008 Teacher of the Year finalists were: Maura Donoghue of the Penn Brook Elementary School in Georgetown; Walter Mitchell of Foxborough High School; Anne Stowe of Westford Academy; Caron Heller of the Cyril K. Brennan Middle School in Attleboro; Eileen Sullivan Shakespear of the Fenway High School in Boston; and Victoria Vieira of Mashpee High School.

The Teacher of the Year semifinalists were: Theresa Barry of Oakmont Regional High School; Nancy Anne Fischer of King Phillip Middle School; Kathleen E. Pastore of Charlton Elementary School; Joshua Bartholomew of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Sharon L. Jackson of Horace Mann Middle School in Franklin; KathyAnn Voltoline of the Reid Middle School in Pittsfield; Carla Blanchard of Harwich High School; and Melinda Bonita Learning of the R. Stewart Esten Elementary School in Rockland. 

--from a DOE media release