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Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program

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Each year the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year (TOY) program honors a Massachusetts teacher who exemplifies excellent teaching in the Commonwealth. Beyond celebrating the individual, the program looks at the complex work that is involved in educating all students through highlighting student achievement, commitment to the profession, innovations in education, and teacher leadership. It draws attention to issues of teacher quality and reiterates the importance of the teacher as the single most important school-based factor in improving student outcomes.

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

Program Overview

The Teacher of the Year (TOY) is an exemplary teacher who will serve as a liaison to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and as an ambassador to other teachers in the state.

"Being named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year was meaningful to me not only because it recognized my passion for teaching and learning but also because it was a celebration of public education. During my year of service, I spoke to colleagues across the state and had the opportunity to meet and learn with fellow educators from all parts of the United States. I say that the TOY designation is the "gift that keeps on giving" because new doors continue to open for me in ways I would never have imagined, even now - two years after the end of my official term. I have become increasingly involved in professional organizations, I have been called upon for consulting, I have reviewed textbooks and other educational writing, and I traveled to China as part of an NEA Global Competence program."

Kathleen Turner
2013 MA Teacher of the Year

The TOY must also demonstrate:

  • A proven track record of meeting students' needs in order to further student growth and achievement.
  • A commitment to centering racial equity in their practice.
  • Instructional leadership in his/her classroom in addition to being a respected member of and contributor to the larger school and district community.
  • Respect for and nuanced understanding of the different perspectives that contribute to high-quality education, including the perspectives of colleagues, administrators, parents, students, and policymakers.

Opportunities for the Teacher of the Year:

  • The TOY will have the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the teaching profession, which will include public speaking and writing opportunities. This is a chance for the TOY to share ideas and to learn from others. It is not the expectation that the TOY speaks on behalf of all teachers. Rather, the TOY should reflect an understanding of the various perspectives that exist among teachers. The TOY maintains full-time teaching responsibilities.
  • Contingent upon the national program and funding, the Massachusetts TOY attends a four-day National Teacher of the Year conference, travels to Washington, D.C. for a week to participate in numerous recognition activities and meet the President, spends a week at Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and, after the TOY's official year ends, attends a "Next Steps" Conference in Princeton, N.J., all with other states' teachers of the year.
  • The Massachusetts TOY 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, and out of, the country.

"I always wanted to 'sit at the table' and influence education policy. In addition to being a member of the Governor's Teacher Advisory Group, I was one of three teacher members on the task force of twenty to offer advice on the development of the new Massachusetts Teacher Evaluation system. This was the most intensive, challenging and yet rewarding experience of the year."

Dr. Wilma Ortiz
2011 MA Teacher of the Year

2021 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

Jennifer Hedrington, 2021 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

Jennifer Hedrington

Seventh Grade Mathematics Teacher

Ferryway School

Malden Public Schools

If you would like to contact Jen, please email her at You can follow her on Instagram at iamhedrington.

Jennifer Hedrington has taught middle school math to secondary school students since 2004 and has worked in Massachusetts, Texas, and Baltimore. Hedrington holds a Juris Doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Atlantic Union College. She measures her students' achievement by how they apply their education outside of the classroom, and she is proud of having heard current and former students say the following over the years:

  • "Ms., I hated my skin and who I was, but I see myself in you, and now I love myself."
  • "Ms., I'm calling you 'cause I'm about to make a bad decision; talk me out of it."
  • "Ms., I graduated from college a year early."
  • "Ms., I got baptized."
  • "Ms., please be the godmother to my child."
  • "Ms., I got a full scholarship to Wentworth."
  • "Ms., look, this is me and Ayanna Pressley in D.C., I intern for her."
  • "Ms., I got accepted to a doctoral program."
  • "Ms., we're getting married."
  • "Ms., I am going to start my own company."
  • "Ms., I am going to preach my first sermon."
  • "Ms., I'm going to protest the injustice."
  • "Ms., I'm going on a mission trip to Haiti."
  • "Ms., I messed up, but I'm not a mistake."
  • "Ms., I'm a math teacher."
  • "Ms., ...I love myself."

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

Former Massachusetts Teachers of the Year

Last Updated: February 9, 2021

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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


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