Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Logo
aMAzing Educators

Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program

Each year, the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year program honors a licensed preK–12 Massachusetts public school teacher who exemplifies excellent teaching in the Commonwealth. The Teacher of the Year program recognizes and celebrates educators who make a positive impact on student learning and well-being; use student-centered, innovative approaches to teaching and learning; and demonstrate leadership within and beyond the classroom.

For more information on the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year program, please click on the following links.

Program Overview

The Teacher of the Year is an exemplary educator who will serve as a liaison to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), act as an ambassador to other teachers in the state, and have the opportunity to connect with teachers from other states. The Teacher of the Year program is an opportunity for teachers to be celebrated and share their voice on policies and practices that impact educators and students across the Commonwealth.

The Teacher of the Year is a teacher who:

  • Creates an affirming environment where students engage in deeper learning and are held to high expectations with targeted support

  • Builds strong relationships with students, families, and the larger school and district community

  • Has ideas about great teaching, feels strongly about what it looks like to provide high-quality instruction, and is eager to work with and learn from a diverse group of stakeholders to make our education system better

Opportunities for the Teacher of the Year:

  • The Teacher of the Year will have the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the teaching profession, a role that will include public speaking and writing opportunities. This is a chance for the teacher to share ideas and to learn from others. It is not the expectation that the Teacher of the Year speaks on behalf of all teachers. Rather, the selected educator should be willing to share their individual experiences and perspectives while also acknowledging the variety of viewpoints that exist among educators. The Teacher of the Year maintains full-time teaching responsibilities.

  • The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year becomes the state's candidate for National Teacher of the Year. The National Teacher of the Year spends a year out of the classroom traveling across the country and internationally.

  • Contingent upon the national program and funding, the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year attends a four-day conference; travels to Washington, D.C. for a week to participate in numerous recognition activities and potentially meet the President; spends a week at Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.; and attends a virtual "Next Steps," all with other states' teachers of the year.

2024 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

De'Shawn C. Washington, 2024 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

De'Shawn C. Washington
Fourth Grade Teacher
Maria Hastings Elementary School
Lexington Public Schools

If you would like to contact De'Shawn, please email him at or find him on LinkedIn.

De'Shawn C. Washington teaches a fourth grade inclusion classroom at Maria Hastings Elementary School in Lexington. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and he also holds a Master of Education in Elementary Education and a Master of Education in Special Education from the same university. He is working on a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University. In addition to teaching, Washington is a member of his district's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community Input Team; Elementary Schedule Review Committee; and Student Success Team. He is also a member of the School Site Council. Prior to his work in Lexington, he taught in Boston Public Schools. Outside of school, he runs workshops at UMass Boston to help pre-service teachers pass the Massachusetts Tests for Education Licensure, has presented and published on the subject of culturally responsive instruction, and volunteers at his church and as a Big Brother. He received Lexington Public Schools' Core Values Award in April 2021 for building and sustaining a sense of community in his classroom, and as part of his practice, he develops his students' ability to work together and resolve disagreements. Washington believes his role is to cultivate changemakers, and his students have successfully advocated for policies such as a different recess structure.

If you have questions about the Teacher of the Year Program, please email the Educator Recognition mailbox at .

2024 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Finalists

  • Maggie Hillman, a fifth grade math teacher at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Boston
  • Katie Lee Mansfield, an art teacher at Framingham High School, Framingham Public Schools
  • Luisa Sparrow, a special education teacher at Oliver Hazard Perry K-6 School, Boston Public Schools.

2024 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Semifinalists

  • Jessica Fuller, a music teacher at Plymouth Community Intermediate School, Plymouth Public Schools
  • Ashley Jean, a seventh grade history/social studies teacher at Parker Middle School, Chelmsford Public Schools
  • Sarah Monica, a preschool teacher at Little Colonials Preschool at Shrewsbury High School, Shrewsbury Public Schools
  • Erin Nerlino, an English language arts teacher at King Philip Regional High School, King Philip Regional School District
  • Matthew Stanton, a history/social studies teacher at Wareham High School, Wareham Public Schools
  • Nathan Whitfield, a math teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Cambridge Public Schools

Previous Massachusetts Teachers of the Year

Last Updated: January 4, 2024

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.