Educator Recognition Programs
2013 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Brochure
June 18, 2012
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 began in the late Fall, with a call for nominations. An independent panel of experts, including past Teachers of the Year, reviewed written applications, interviewed four 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 2013 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program: Hannaford Supermarkets; ING; Massachusetts Teachers Association; SMART Technologies; and the Teacher Leadership Academy.
I am proud to present the 2013 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Kathleen Turner, from Sharon High School in Sharon. We wish her much energy and happiness in the year ahead.
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Meet the 2013 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year
Kathleen Mae Turner
Sharon High School
Kathleen Turner did not become a teacher. She is a teacher. She knows that total immersion is the best way to learn a language. Since she can't whisk her students away to Paris or Tahiti for the year, she transforms her classroom into a mini francophone region using posters, flags, and pictures of French speaking countries. Students adopt a new identity by choosing a French name and communicate only in French, whether they are beginners, uttering a single word or an error-riddled sentence, or in an AP class.
Mademoiselle Turner inspires students to appreciate French as a living, breathing language that can facilitate communication with people on every continent, provide a lens for examining diverse cultures, and serve as a gateway to countless other disciplines. She creates relevant and personalized learning opportunities by developing her own units by selecting cultural themes, literature, music or film to integrate with grammar topics. She employs a wide variety of instructional and assessment techniques both to generate interest in the subject matter and to respond to varied learning styles. Students look eagerly at the daily agenda to see if they will be predicting the end of a story, playing a word game, having a silent dialogue, performing a skit, filling in the missing lyrics to a song, or debating the merits of a school policy.
Kathy recognizes that it can be very artificial and limiting to teach and learn a language within the confines of a classroom. Since 1996, she has brought hundreds of students to the City of Lights over April vacation. She recently expanded travel opportunities for her students by organizing an immersion weekend in Québec for seniors taking French, and coordinating a homestay exchange with a school in Rouen, France.
Turner spends a great deal of time reflecting on her practices. She strives to strike delicate balances through trial and error: maintaining high but reasonable expectations, giving students freedom within well-defined limits, and allowing for spontaneity while adhering to routines. She takes her work and her students seriously, but she doesn't take herself too seriously. She freely admits when she doesn't know something or when she makes mistakes. Asking students for constructive criticism is standard practice. She learned early in her career that their ideas can be extremely beneficial.
Turner finds that students respond better in the classroom when she expends the energy to know them as individuals. Over the years, she has been a class advisor and the Student Council advisor. She has helped to improve school spirit by planning dances, pep rallies, a dodge ball tournament, and other school-widefunctions.
This year, Kathy worked with several colleaguesto implement a "Community of Respect" activity for the entire student body on the first day of school. She also attends sports matches, plays, concerts, and other events to support her students.
Kathy has also made valuable contributions to her colleagues. Twelve years ago she helped to create the school's first New Teacher Orientation program and has been a co-leader of the program ever since. She has served on the School Council for fifteen years, chaired the NEASC Steering Committee, served on search committees, and has been a Sharon Teachers' Association building representative. Turner is also instrumental in organizing social gatherings for the staff so that they can get to know each other outside of the hectic schedule of the typical school day.
Kathy facilitates professional development sessions for her colleagues in Sharon and in other districts, and she has presented workshops at the annual conference for the Massachusetts Association of Foreign Languages. She loves these interactions with fellow teachers because she always comes away with new and exciting ideas. For Kathy, being a teacher is also being a lifetime learner.