Teachers honored



Top public school educators were honored on June 13 during an event celebrating the Massachusetts Excellence in Teaching awards.

Anne Marie Bettencourt, 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, was given a standing ovation by fellow educators, state officials and family and friends of the honorees during the ceremony at the Museum of Science in Boston. The ninth-grade English language arts teacher at Springfield’s Central High School is a candidate for the national Teacher of the Year award.

Bettencourt talked about the “common core that’s been out for some time” in schools, “and for some reason it hasn’t made national news.” This common core is not in print, she said, and the assessment “takes a lifetime to complete.”

“This common core is already in place. In the past, we called them teachers,” Bettencourt said.

This common core of teachers, she said, have “a set of standards that they adhere to. They know the importance of reading and analytical writing, and they also know the importance of singing, hugs, high-fives, and the daily ‘good morning.’ They are purposeful in their choices of literature, aware that the right book cannot only challenge a student, but challenge a stereotype.”

Bettencourt said that teachers’ lessons have a way of crossing the thresholds of their schools into their students’ homes and lives. When she was in high school, struggling with a chaotic home life, teachers gave her a place to study and a listening ear. “This is the common core in action,” she said.

Jeanne M. Lenza was named History Teacher of the Year. The fifth-grade history teacher at the Thomas R. Plympton School in Waltham describes history as her “first love for as long as I can remember.” She becomes the Massachusetts candidate for National History Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Allan Cameron Jr., principal of Deerfield Elementary School in Westwood, was named the Milken Family Foundation’s 2012 Award Winner for his leadership and mentoring skills. Cameron was described as a “rare educator for whom theory and practice are seamlessly integrated.”

Governor Deval Patrick was on hand for the awards. He called teachers “the critical element” in each classroom, and he praised “the love teachers show and draw from their students.”

“That’s what we honor,” Patrick said.

He said teachers’ investments in their students – their time, inspiration and creativity – are often not recognized for years, and certainly “not in time for the next election.” But public investment must be made now “to make the next generation ready,” he said, referring to his efforts to win more education funding from the Legislature. “We have to find the will to do it,” Patrick added.

Finalists for the 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award were Kimberly Chaffee, an 11th- and 12th-grade history teacher at Quaboag Regional Middle High School in Warren; Jenna Gampel, a second-grade teacher at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Brighton; Mary Gavin, a first-through-fourth-grade ACCESS classroom teacher at the Bennett-Hemenway School in Natick; and Ann Lambert, a 10th-through-12th-grade chemistry teacher at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham.

Finalists for the 2012 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science were also on hand at the museum.

They included Jessica Findlay, a fifth-grade math teacher at Douglas Intermediate Elementary School in Douglas; Judy LaConte, second-grade math teacher at the L.G. Nourse School in Norton; Tanya Walsh, a third-grade math teacher at the Cunningham Elementary School in Milton; Ruth Dorsey, a fifth-grade science teacher at the Oakdale School in Dedham; Erin Dukeshire, a sixth-grade science teacher at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Roxbury; and Jodi Lucas, a fourth-grade science teacher at the Boland Elementary School in Springfield.

To view pictures of the event, visit the MTA's  Flickr page.