Sharon High School French teacher is 2013 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

A Sharon High School foreign language teacher, who told her parents after sitting through her very first French class as an 8th grader that she wanted to teach high school French someday, was recognized May 8 with the state’s top honor for educators.

Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester used the occasion of National Teacher Day to name Kathleen M. Turner as the 2013 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. Turner, of East Walpole, is the state’s 51st recipient of this award and automatically becomes the state’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Program, according to a DESE media release.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is the opportunity to recognize excellence in teaching, and I am pleased today on National Teacher Day to honor the incredible educators we have working in classrooms across Massachusetts,” said Chester. “Massachusetts educators are well represented by Kathleen Turner, who through her leadership and exceptional teaching provides students with a well-rounded education that enriches their lives and prepares them for success beyond high school.”

“The teachers that had the greatest impact on my life were the ones whose passion for teaching and learning inspired us to aim high,” said Education Secretary Paul Reville. “I want to thank Kathleen Turner and our teachers across the Commonwealth for the work they do to inspire and equip our young people with the tools they need to succeed.”

Turner grew up in Northbridge and attended Northbridge High School. After graduating from Harvard College in 1994, Turner was hired as a French teacher at Sharon High School. Since then, Turner has been instrumental in building the school’s French program. Turner also regularly takes students to Paris during spring break, plans annual trips to Quebec City, and has established an exchange program with a school in Rouen, France.

 Kathleen Turner, 2013 Teacher of the Year

 Kathy Turner "is the best and brightest of what we all are," said Sharon Teachers Association President Chuck Fazzio.

Turner’s students have demonstrated impressive results on the College Board’s AP French exam, according to the DESE. In the past six years, over 90 percent of the 123 students from Sharon High who took the exam scored a 3 or higher.

The other five Teacher of the Year finalists for this year’s award are: Scott Balicki, a Chemistry teacher at Boston Latin School in Boston; Maureen Knowlton, a Special Education teacher at Millis Middle School in Millis; Paula Plock, an Elementary Education teacher at Williamstown Elementary School in Williamstown; John Scopelleti, an English teacher at South Shore Regional Vocational Technical High School in Hanover; and Alison Spade, an Elementary Education teacher at Boston Renaissance Charter Public School in Boston.

In addition to being named the 2012-2013 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year on May 8th, Turner will join other outstanding educators, including the Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, the Milken Family Foundation Award winner for Massachusetts, the finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and Teacher of the Year finalists and semifinalists, to be honored at an awards ceremony on June 18, 2012.

Photos from the ceremony