For Immediate Release
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Contact:Jacqueline Reis 781-338-3115

Baker-Polito Administration Honors Educators from Across the Commonwealth

Boston - State and local education officials today recognized the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and other recipients of the Commonwealth's top honors for educators. "Lieutenant Governor Polito and I send our sincere congratulations to all of the educators who were recognized today for the excellence they bring to their classrooms," said Governor Charlie Baker. "Massachusetts is a national leader in education, and we are grateful to the thousands of teachers who see the potential in each of our students and help them attain it." During a ceremony held at the State House, officials presented awards to Sydney Chaffee, a ninth grade humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester who has been selected as the 2017 Teacher of the Year, as well as finalists and semifinalists for the award. The 2016 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, the Massachusetts finalists for the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and the state winner of the 2015 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award were also recognized. The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program recognizes excellence in teaching across the Commonwealth each school year by selecting a teacher who exemplifies the dedication, commitment and positive contributions of educators statewide. The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year is automatically the state's candidate for National Teacher of the Year. While remaining in the classroom, Ms. Chaffee will serve as ambassador to the teaching profession over the next year by making speeches and conducting workshops throughout the state. "It is a pleasure to recognize the outstanding teachers here today and to realize that they are representative of the tens of thousands of dedicated educators who serve our students every day," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "In addition to their classroom duties, today's honorees have furthered their education, taken on leadership roles at their schools and modeled the lifelong learning that we hope their students will emulate." Ms. Chaffee, who grew up in New York State and lives in Boston, graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and Lesley University and is a National Board certified teacher. She has sought to grow as an educator while remaining in the classroom. Ms. Chaffee is constantly adapting her work in response to her students and said, "I want to model for my students that real learning happens when we humble ourselves to what we don't know, then grow through questioning and collaboration." Susan Miller, a teacher at Middleborough High School in Middleborough, was named the 2016 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year. The National History Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Gilder Lehman Institute of American History, the History Channel and Preserve America. Susan Miller will represent Massachusetts as a candidate for the national award. The state History Teacher of the Year receives a $1,000 grant, and the recipient's school is presented with a collection of classroom resources donated in that teacher's name. Dr. Miller graduated from Immaculata College in Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in social studies/consumer science. She received a master's degree from in special education from Simmons College and a doctorate in educational leadership from Johnson & Wales University. She has taught at Middleborough High School since 1993. The 2017 Teacher of the Year finalists honored today were:
  • Kathryn Contini, a sixth grade teacher at Blanchard Memorial School in Boxborough, part of the Acton Boxborough Regional School District;
  • Mary-Margaret Mara, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Chandler Magnet School in Worcester; and
  • Edward Jou, a math teacher at Match Charter School in Boston.
The 2017 Teacher of the Year semifinalists honored today were:
  • Sandra DiPalma, a second grade teacher at Palmer River Elementary School in Rehoboth, part of the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School District;
  • Kathleen Duran, a second grade teacher at Hyannis West Elementary School in Barnstable;
  • Jamie Hulke, an English teacher at East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School in East Bridgewater;
  • Allison Lacasse, a band teacher at McCarthy Middle School in Chelmsford;
  • Alicia Lopez, a teacher of English language learners at Amherst Regional Middle School in Amherst, part of Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools;
  • Arlyn Madsen-Bond, a teacher of English language learners at Spark Academy in Lawrence;
  • Jacqueline Prester, a business and technology teacher at Mansfield High School in Mansfield; and
  • Rachel Stavely Hale, a math teacher at Northampton High School in Northampton.
The 2015 Milken Family Foundation Award winner Michelle Ryan, who is a social studies teacher at Randolph High School in Randolph, was also recognized yesterday. Known as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Milken awards were established to provide public recognition and individual rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. In addition, officials recognized the Massachusetts finalists for the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science, who are:
  • Catherine Dollard, a science teacher at Northampton High School in Northampton;
  • Benadette Manning, a math teacher at Fenway High School in Boston;
  • Neil Plotnick, a math teacher at Everett High School in Everett;
  • Keith Wright, a science teacher at Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield; and
  • Lise LeTellier, a science teacher at Holyoke Catholic High School in Chicopee.
For more information on teacher recognition programs, please go to Educator Recognition Programs webpage. ###

Last Updated: June 15, 2016

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