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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Contact:JC Considine 781-338-3112

Springfield 9th Grade English Teacher Named 2014 Mass. Teacher of the Year

SPRINGFIELD - A Springfield Central High School English language arts teacher, who went off to college aspiring to become a screenwriter but instead discovered her calling to teach, today was honored with the state's top award for educators.

Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester used the occasion of Tuesday's National Teacher Day to name Anne Marie Bettencourt as the 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. Bettencourt, who lives in Hatfield, is the state's 52nd recipient of this award and automatically becomes the state's candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Program.

"Anne Marie's passion and commitment exemplify the kind of teacher that should be in every classroom in the Commonwealth," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Her dedication to teaching is an inspiration. Teachers like Anne Marie understand the stake we have in the next generation, and are why our students lead the nation."

"One of my favorite annual traditions is the naming of a new Teacher of the Year, and Anne Marie Bettencourt is an outstanding choice to represent the excellence we see across the profession in Massachusetts," said Commissioner Chester. "Educators like Ms. Bettencourt have an enormous impact on student learning through their leadership, dedication, and exceptional teaching."

"Anne Marie demonstrates the best our Commonwealth has to offer," said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. "We know that nothing has a greater impact on our students than the influence of a great teacher. I congratulate Anne Marie on this honor and hope that teachers across Massachusetts will have the opportunity to learn from her success."

"It is with great pleasure that I congratulate Anne Marie Bettencourt on receiving the 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Award," said Senator Gale D. Candaras. "Our continued economic resurgence depends on well educated and driven youth, and Ms. Bettencourt is a fine example of an educator dedicated to ensuring her students are both. She is truly an asset to Springfield Central High School, and I wish her and her students the best in the future."

"I would like to extend my congratulations to Anne Marie Bettencourt as Massachusetts Teacher of the Year," said Senator James. T. Welch. "I applaud her dedication and commitment to educating our youth. She represents what we should all work towards and I am proud that she is serving the Springfield community."

Bettencourt, a New Bedford native, graduated from New Bedford High School and Syracuse University. It was at Syracuse that Bettencourt found her calling to teach while mentoring children at a local youth center and spending two summers teaching 7th and 8th graders in Providence, Rhode Island. After receiving a master of education from Springfield College in 2006, Bettencourt began her teaching career as a 7th grade English language arts (ELA) teacher at Chestnut Middle School in Springfield. Since 2008, she has taught 9th grade ELA at Springfield Central High School.

Bettencourt believes her greatest contribution to her students is getting them to realize their hidden potential by instilling in them the confidence and belief that they can achieve greatness. As a 9th grade team facilitator, Bettencourt helps students manage their expectations, develops and initiates parent contact strategies, and advocates for smaller learning communities. Last year, more than 90 percent of students from Bettencourt's team moved on to the 10th grade – compared to roughly 50 percent of 9th graders across the district.

For the past three years, Bettencourt has served as a mentor teacher for student teachers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Springfield College. She also works closely with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, a local initiative to improve learning in schools by bringing together educators to deepen their individual and collective experiences as writers.

"Anne Marie Bettencourt is a consummate professional who is committed to helping all students reach their potential," said Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Daniel J. Warwick. "Her work with ninth graders is truly remarkable. We certainly couldn't be more proud of Anne Marie and the positive light her work has shone on not only Central High School but our entire school district."

"Teachers tend to love their subject, but Anne Marie lives hers," wrote Springfield Central High School Principal Thaddeus Tokarz in his letter of recommendation. "She is extremely knowledgeable about both the literary and grammatical aspects of English and demonstrates this knowledge by effectively teaching over one hundred and twenty first year high school students; keeping them engaged in inquiry, striving for mastery themselves, and by leading and modeling civic engagement by participating in school based events, coaching, and speaking out on issues of concern."

The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program annually recognizes excellence in teaching across the Commonwealth by selecting a teacher who exemplifies the dedication, commitment, and positive contributions of educators statewide. The selection process for the 2013-14 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year began last fall with a call for nominations. An initial review of each nominated teacher's written application led to the selection of semifinalists, who then submitted additional supporting material. Five finalists were selected and interviewed by an independent review panel of experts, including past Massachusetts Teachers of the Year. That panel then recommended one finalist to be named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year by Commissioner Chester.

The other four Teacher of the Year finalists for this year's award were: Kimberly Chaffee, an 11th and 12th grade History teacher at Quaboag Regional Middle High School in Warren; Jenna Gampel, a 2nd grade teacher at Conservatory Lab Charter School in Brighton; Mary Gavin, a grades 1-4 ACCESS classroom teacher at Bennett-Hemenway School in Natick; and Ann Lambert, a grades 10-12 Chemistry teacher at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham.

Bettencourt will join other outstanding educators, including the Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, the Milken Family Foundation Award winner for Massachusetts, the finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and Teacher of the Year finalists and semifinalists for an awards ceremony at the State House on June 13, 2013.

Last Updated: May 7, 2013
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