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Educator Recognition Programs

2009 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Brochure

June 19, 2008

Dear Friends,

Teaching is both an art and science; the most difficult, most rewarding and most important of careers. While all classroom teachers should be recognized on a daily basis, the National Teacher of the Year Program is the oldest and most prestigious awards program that focuses public attention annually on excellence in teaching. Since 1952, the national program has recognized and honored the contributions of classroom teachers by granting one outstanding teacher a year's paid sabbatical. During that year, the teacher travels the nation and meets with a wide variety of audiences to address educational issues. The National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by ING, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in partnership with Hannaford Supermarkets. Each year the program honors a Massachusetts teacher who exemplifies fine teaching in the Commonwealth. The purpose of the program is to select a teacher who is worthy of speaking for and energizing the teaching profession, and representing the positive contributions of all teachers statewide. The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year automatically becomes the state's candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Program.

The selection process for the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year begins early in the calendar year with a call for nominations. An independent panel of experts, including past Teachers of the Year, reviewed written applications, interviewed 6 finalists, and recommended a candidate for my consideration for this year's honor.

I wish to thank the following corporations and organizations for supporting the 2009 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program: Hannaford Supermarkets; Massachusetts Teachers Association; SMARTer Kids Foundation; Dr. Sandra Stotsky; Teacher Leadership Academy; and Verizon.

I am proud to present the 2009 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, George Watson, from Walpole High School in Walpole. We wish him much energy and happiness in the year ahead.

Sincerely, Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D. Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education

Meet the 2009 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

George Watson
Walpole High School
Walpole Public Schools

George Watson teaches Spanish at Walpole High School and has been Department Head of Foreign Languages since 1980. George's belief that all students want to learn has inspired him to offer foreign language to all levels of learners both in the middle school and high school. Over the course of his teaching career George has committed himself to proficiency based instruction in language, believing that what is important is not what students know about the language but rather what they can do with the language in terms of listening, speaking, reading and writing. He has developed curriculum from beginning levels of Spanish I to AP Spanish Language.

George infuses his classes with Latin music and believes that music can both enhance and advance the curriculum. Hundreds of language teachers from all over the state have attended his music workshops at the MAFLA (Massachusetts Foreign Language Association) state conference and summer institutes He has also presented workshops on using current Latin music videos in the classroom. As an experienced AP Spanish Language teacher, George has given workshops around the country to both new and veteran teachers on AP curriculum design, instruction and assessment. He has also been a Reader for the AP Spanish Language Exam for six years and is currently a Table Leader at the AP Reading in Louisville, KY.

George has established successful exchange programs with both Spain and Costa Rica, the country where his parents were born. Since 1998 Walpole has had an exchange with the San Agustin School in Palmares, Costa Rica. George firmly believes that school-to-school, country-to-country exchanges are vital in promoting international goodwill and should be part of global studies programs at the high school level.

George is also state co-coordinator of the National Spanish Exam for the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. His belief that students should be encouraged to compete academically has inspired hundreds of students in Walpole to compete in this contest each year and be recognized both at Walpole's Foreign Language Awards Night and the AATSP Awards Banquet at Regis College. Under George's leadership the Foreign Language Department in Walpole has thrived and now includes five languages: Spanish, Latin, French, German and Mandarin Chinese, of which many students study two in the same year. Currently, the department has two exchange programs and looks forward to establishing others, particularly with China.

George lives in Mansfield, Massachusetts with his wife Janet and is the proud father of two boys, Marcus and Michael.

2009 Teacher of the Year, George Watson, contact information:
781-338-3635 or

Last Updated: August 18, 2011
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