For Immediate Release - June 16, 2011

Governor and Education Officials Award Top Honors to Educators

Boston High School Mathematics Teacher Named Teacher of the Year; Milford Teacher Takes Home Top History Award

BOSTON - Governor Deval Patrick today joined state education officials in recognizing a Boston high school mathematics teacher and a Milford middle school history teacher as recipients of the state's top two honors for educators.

Monument High School Mathematics Teacher Adam Gray was named the 2012 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year; and Jessica Kodys, a history teacher at Stacy Middle School in Milford, was named the state's 2011 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year. The two educators were among a group of teachers honored on Thursday at a State House ceremony by Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester, Secretary of Education Paul Reville, legislative leaders, and education officials.

"Teachers educate and motivate students every day, preparing them for success as individual learners, responsible citizens, and leaders within their communities" said Governor Patrick. "I congratulate Mr. Gray and Ms. Kodys and thank them for a deep commitment to their profession and the well-being of all students and thank all of our teachers for their work every day to help our students learn."

"Teachers inspire and open a world of opportunity for our youth," Senate President Therese Murray said. "The teachers honored today, like so many across the Commonwealth, are helping our students recognize and pursue their dreams, and they are the reason Massachusetts continues to be number one in education. I thank them for their commitment and hard work."

"I'd like to congratulate these accomplished teachers for their tireless commitment to giving our children the education they need and deserve," House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. "At a time when our schools are asked to do more with less, Ms. Kodys and Mr. Gray are terrific examples of how our teachers play a pivotal role in the growth of our young people."

"Massachusetts has the best schools in the nation, and as Mr. Gray and Ms. Kodys show, our teachers are at the heart of that achievement," said Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. "I want to thank these remarkable teachers for their dedication to our young people, and for providing two examples of the incredible talent found in classrooms across our Commonwealth."

"Students and families in Massachusetts are fortunate to have teachers such as Mr. Gray and Ms. Kodys who are dedicated to educating, supporting, and inspiring students," said Representative Alice Peisch, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. "We are grateful to them, and all teachers, for choosing to work in such a difficult but critically important career. I congratulate Mr. Gray and Ms. Kodys and encourage more high school students, college students, and graduates to follow their lead and prepare for careers as teachers."

"A great teacher inspires a child to think critically, to be curious and ask questions, and to embrace a lifetime of learning," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "Massachusetts has a world-class teaching corps that is well represented by Mr. Gray, Ms. Kodys and all of the educators we recognize today."

"Teachers make a difference in the lives of students every day so it is only right that we take at least this one day to recognize all that they contribute," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Mr. Gray and Ms. Kodys and all of their colleagues here and across the state are working to empower young learners to develop into the future leaders of our Commonwealth, our nation and our world and we thank them for undertaking such a great responsibility."

Gray, who lives in Somerville, has taught mathematics for the past five years at Monument High School located in the South Boston Education Complex. Gray works to inspire students and motivates them to accomplish their goals by working to increase confidence in their ability to be successful, by establishing a classroom culture where challenges are embraced, and by setting the expectation that greatness requires constant diligence. He founded Boston Public Schools' first Mu Alpha Theta (M.A.T.) honor society to recognize outstanding student achievement in mathematics, provide unique academic and enrichment activities, and encourage lower achieving students to be more consistent with their attendance and achievement. In the three years since its inception, M.A.T. membership has increased to 30 members, nearly 10 percent of the school's total enrollment. Gray is also a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow and has served on Monument High's Instructional Leadership Team.

"For the past four years, I have watched Mr. Gray become an inspiring teacher who uses data and research to drive his pedagogical practice and inform his actions as a leader in the school," wrote Monument High School Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and Placement Nicole Guttenberg in her letter of recommendation. "His dedication to his students and passion for teaching and educating the whole child are unsurpassed."

Kodys, a resident of Mendon, creates authentic experiences for her fifth grade history students to foster curiosity and generate excitement in learning. She challenges her students to read, decipher, "translate," and apply information gathered from primary documents, music and art. In class discussions students are asked to listen to their classmates and model how to respectfully disagree or challenge ideas or perceptions of the people or events being studied. Each year, Kodys' students draft a class constitution that includes a preamble and articles that articulate non-negotiable school rules, classroom rules, student responsibilities, and rights.

"Miss Kodys' expectation for success and her ability to empower her students allows her to educate the whole child, as well as challenge all learners through the use of differentiated instruction," wrote Stacy Middle School Principal Nancy Angelini in her letter of recommendation.

The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year is automatically the state's candidate for National Teacher of the Year. While remaining in the classroom, Mr. Gray will serve as ambassador to the teaching profession over the next year by making speeches and conducting workshops throughout the state. He succeeds Floris Wilma Ortiz-Marrero, who received the Teacher of the Year award last year.

Hannaford Supermarkets has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on the Teacher of the Year program for the past six years. In addition to sponsoring the State House awards ceremony and luncheon, Hannaford presents a $5,000 grant to the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, $2,500 grants to the finalists, and $1,000 grants to the semifinalists.

The National History Teacher of the Year program is a White House initiative and is sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History, the History Channel, and Preserve America. Ms. Kodys will represent Massachusetts in the national program and is a candidate for the national award. She succeeds Kelley Brown, the 2010 honoree. The History Teacher of the Year receives a $1,000 grant and the recipient's school is presented with an archive of primary historical materials donated in that teacher's name.

The 2012 Teacher of the Year finalists were: Ryan J. King, a Biology teacher at Masconomet Regional Middle School in Topsfield; William Madden-Fuoco, an AP English and Humanities teacher at Urban Science Academy in Boston; and Sarah Roberts, a 3 rd and 4 th grade teacher at South Shore Charter Public School in Norwell.

The Teacher of the Year semifinalists were: Heather A. Batchelor, a History teacher at Turners Falls High School in Montague; Kathleen D. Malone, a 1 st grade teacher at Lynch Elementary School in Winchester; Karen Elizabeth McDavitt, a 2 nd grade teacher at Joseph Osgood School in Cohasset; and Danielle M. Winn, a 4 th grade special education teacher at Arnone Elementary School in Brockton.

Also recognized on Thursday were 2010 Milken Family Foundation Award winner Roni Gold, a 5 th grade teacher at Rebecca Johnson Elementary School in Springfield; and the recipients of the 2010 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Michael Flynn, a 2 nd grade teacher at William Norris Elementary School in Southampton, and Wai Chin Ng, a 5 th grade teacher at Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston.

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.

The Presidential Award program was enacted by Congress in 1983. Recipients receive a trip to Washington, D.C. and a $10,000 award.