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For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

Two Teachers Honored For Outstanding Accomplishments

BOSTON - A bilingual first grade teacher from Boston and a Somerville High School history teacher who teaches both AP and special needs classes have been given two of the state’s top educator awards.

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll on Tuesday named Rafael Hernández Elementary School teacher Jessie Auger the 2006-2007 Massachusetts Teacher of Year, and Somerville High School history teacher Alicia Kersten the state’s 2006 Preserve America History Teacher of the Year.

Both educators are among the best in the Commonwealth’s public schools, Driscoll said.

“Teachers play a vital role in the development of our children, and the passion they have for what they teach can make a difference by sparking a student’s interest and fostering a lifelong love for learning.” he said. “Jessie stands out because of her creativity in finding ways to work with students whose first language is not English. And Alicia is a great example of an educator who has found ways to make her subject come alive in the classroom. Congratulations to them both.”

Auger, a Jamaica Plain resident, has been in education for 16 years. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in Watertown in 1990. Since then she has taught mainly in the Massachusetts public schools, leaving only to teach for one year in El Salvador and another year in Puerto Rico. She has been in her current position at the Roxbury elementary school since 2004.

In her application, Auger said that she aims to create a learning environment in her classroom that helps her students grow confident, competent, and successful.

“When I see my students develop and practice skills with the joy and excitement of new discovery, full of pride in their newly created competence, I know my work has been well worth the effort,” she wrote.

Boston Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant commended Auger for her accomplishments.

“It's a pleasure to celebrate the hard work of one of our teachers,” he said. “We are expecting our students to meet higher standards than ever before and teachers like Jessie are helping them reach that level of performance. I am proud of Jessie's work and the work of all of the teachers in the Boston Public Schools.”

Kersten, a resident of Somerville, has been a U.S. History teacher at Somerville High School since 2000. Lauded for her commitment to her students and dedication to teaching, she also mentors new teachers, advises the Academic Decathlon Team, and has partnered with the Somerville Museum to exhibit student projects on their community.

Special Education Teacher Kristin Glynn, who teaches two inclusion classes with Kersten, lauded her for her ability to teach history to students with limited cognitive ability.

“Alicia loves history and is an outstanding teacher,” Glynn said. “She motivates students to push past their comfort levels … and models that a standards-based history curriculum can be hands-on and relevant. She is a credit to our profession.”

The Teacher of the Year finalists were Ann R. Clark from the Boston Arts Academy, Michelle A. Costa from the Steward Elementary School in the Tri-Town Regional District, Tracy Manousaridis from the Potter Road School in Framingham, Susan C. Miller from the Middleborough High School, and Amy Piacitelli from Charlestown High School. The semi-finalists were Janice M. Fairchild from Hanscom Middle School, Lisa C. Grasso from Fisher Elementary School in Walpole, Beth A. Harding from Forest Grove Middle School in Worcester, Norman D. Myerow from Minuteman Regional High School in the Minuteman Regional District, Margaret T. Sbordy from Eastford Road School in Southbridge, and Joan Vohl Hamilton from Granby Junior Senior High School in Granby.

Two teachers received the Preserve America History Teacher of the Year Honorable Mentions: Linda McCormick from the Center School in Longmeadow and Ann B. O’Halloran from the Albert Angier School in Newton.

The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year is automatically the state’s candidate for National Teacher of the Year. While remaining in the classroom, Auger will serve as ambassador to the teaching profession over the next year by making speeches and conducting workshops throughout the state. She succeeds Suzanne Wintle, last year’s Teacher of the Year.

The Preserve America History Teacher of the Year is a White House initiative and is sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History. Kersten will represent Massachusetts in the national program and is a candidate for the national award.



Last Updated: June 29, 2006
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