For Immediate Release - June 14, 2013

Governor Patrick and Education Officials Honor Educators from across the Commonwealth


2014 Teacher of the Year Anne Marie Bettencourt of Springfield Central High School
Governor Patrick honors 2014 Teacher of the Year Anne Marie Bettencourt of Springfield Central High School at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Teacher of the Year Awards at the Museum of Science. (Left to right: Chair of the Joint Committee on Education Alice Peisch, Secretary Malone, Anne Marie Bettencourt, Governor Patrick and Commissioner Chester)(Photo credit: Eric Haynes / Governor’s Office)

BOSTON – Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of Education Matthew Malone today joined state and local education officials to recognize the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and other recipients of the Commonwealth's top honors for educators.

“I thank these honorees for their deep commitment to preparing our students for success as responsible, productive citizens and as leaders within their communities,” said Governor Patrick. “Their dedication to teaching is an inspiration to us all.  They understand the stake we have in the next generation and are the reason our students lead the nation.”

During a ceremony held at the Museum of Science, officials presented awards to Anne Marie Bettencourt, a Springfield Central High School 9th grade English Language Arts teacher who has been selected as the 2014 Teacher of the Year, as well as finalists and semifinalists of the award. The 2013 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year; the 2012 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching finalists; and the 2012 Milken Family Foundation National Educator were also recognized.

Jeanne M. Lenza, a 5th grade history teacher at the Thomas R. Plympton School in Waltham, was named the 2013 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year.

“Teachers are doing the most important work in America today,” said Secretary Malone. “It is opportunities such as this where we honor the best but also recognize that they represent thousands more who are the unsung heroes of our cities and towns.”

The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program, which is administered by the Patrick Administration, recognizes each school year excellence in teaching across the Commonwealth by selecting a teacher who exemplifies the dedication, commitment and positive contributions of educators statewide. The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year is automatically the state's candidate for National Teacher of the Year. While remaining in the classroom, Bettencourt will serve as ambassador to the teaching profession over the next year by making speeches and conducting workshops throughout the state.

"The best teaching in the country is happening in Massachusetts, and today's ceremony allows us to extend our appreciation to all educators for their exceptional service," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "The individual educators we are honoring today bring a passion and commitment to their craft and to improving results for all students that I see in classrooms across the Commonwealth."

Bettencourt, a New Bedford native, graduated from Syracuse University. It was at Syracuse that Bettencourt found her calling while mentoring children at a local youth center and spending two summers teaching 7th and 8th graders in Providence, RI. 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.

Last year, more than 90 percent of students from Bettencourt's team moved on to the 10th grade – compared to roughly 50 percent of ninth graders across the district.

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

Lenza is a graduate of Regis College in Weston and received a master of education from Cambridge College. She has taught at the Plympton School since 2007, working first with 3rd graders and since 2009 with 5th graders.

The 2014 Teacher of the Year finalists honored today were:

  • Kimberly Chaffee, 11th and 12th grade history teacher, Quaboag Regional Middle High School, Warren
  • Jenna Gampel, a 2nd grade teacher, Conservatory Lab Charter School, Brighton
  • Mary Gavin, grades 1-4 ACCESS classroom teacher, Bennett-Hemenway School, Natick
  • Ann Lambert, grades 10-12 chemistry teacher, King Philip Regional High School, Wrentham

The 2014 Teacher of the Year semifinalists honored today were:

  • Brian Bates, 9th grade English teacher, Humanities and Leadership Development High School, Lawrence
  • Seith Bedard, grades 9-12 alternative/special education teacher, Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, Peabody
  • Shirley Ezerins, grades 9-12 Design & Visual Communications teacher, Southeastern Regional Technical High School, South Easton
  • Heather Haines, grades 10-12 chemistry teacher, Community Charter School of Cambridge, Cambridge
  • Mary Loebig, Grades 9-12 biology teacher, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, South Yarmouth
  • Terence Martin, 8th grade history teacher, Dr. Philip O. Coakley Middle School, Norwood

Also recognized on Thursday were the 2012 Milken Family Foundation Award winner Dr. Allan Cameron, Jr., who is principal of the Deerfield Elementary School in Westwood; and the finalists of the 2012 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science who were:

  • Jessica Findlay, 5th grade math teacher, Douglas Intermediate Elementary School, Douglas
  • Judy LaConte, 2nd grade math teacher, L.G. Nourse School, Norton
  • Tanya Walsh, 3rd grade math teacher, Cunningham Elementary School, Milton
  • Ruth Dorsey, 5th grade science teacher, Oakdale School, Dedham
  • Erin Dukeshire, 6th grade science teacher, Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School, Roxbury
  • Jodi Lucas, 4th grade science teacher, Boland Elementary School, Springfield

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. Winners receive a trip to Washington, D.C. and a $10,000 award.