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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Announces 2022 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

Salem ESL teacher Marta García receives state’s top educator award
For immediate release:
10/06/2021
  • Executive Office of Education
  • Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces 2022 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

Jacqueline Reis

SALEMGovernor Charlie Baker, Secretary of Education James Peyser and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley joined Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll to announce that Marta García, a second and third grade English as a second language (ESL) teacher at Witchcraft Heights Elementary School in Salem, is the 2022 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. The award was announced today during a ceremony at the school.
 
The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program is the state’s top award for educators and annually recognizes excellence in teaching across the Commonwealth by selecting a teacher who exemplifies the dedication, commitment and positive contributions of educators statewide.
 
“We are proud to award Marta García with this year’s Teacher of the Year Award,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Teachers like Ms. García support students, families and schools with care and kindness, and she is an excellent representative of the Commonwealth’s teachers.”
 
“It’s clear that Ms. García is an excellent educator who finds joy in her work and is always focused on what her students need,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “I am pleased see her many years of dedication recognized with this award.”
 
Ms. García is the first Salem teacher to become Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. She is the 60th recipient of this award and automatically becomes Massachusetts’ candidate for the National Teacher of the Year program.
 
Ms. García is in her 23rd year of teaching and her 15th year of teaching multilingual learners in Salem. As an immigrant parent of two bilingual children, she understands some of the concerns her new students’ families might have, and she reaches out proactively to see how they are adjusting and to explain the school system. She learns about each of her students’ background and values their bicultural and bilingual identity.
 
As a multilingual learner teacher, Ms. García sees her students every day, either working with them in their general education classroom or in groups in her classroom for part of the day. She collaborates closely with grade level teachers to provide the best support for her students as they learn academic content and the English language.
 
In addition to teaching English and academics, Ms. García helps show students how their own actions can make the world better, whether by improving the environment or showing respect for all people. In her planning, she always prioritizes social and environmental justice.
 
Ms. García, who continues to pursue her own education, is also a leader among her peers, offering professional development courses such as Spanish for Educators, modeling how to have culturally responsive family conferences, serving on task forces, and mentoring student teachers.

“Ms. García recognizes the strengths that English learners bring to the classroom and the importance of connecting with their families,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “Her role, and the role of ESL teachers statewide, is a critical one as we seek to serve all students and help people from different backgrounds grow and learn together.”
 
“Ms. García welcomes her students to school with an open heart, carefully chosen classroom materials, and a wealth of knowledge about teaching and about what it’s like to be a multilingual learner,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “It’s a pleasure to honor her with this award.”
 
“Teachers are tremendous assets to our children,” said Senator Joan Lovely. “As an ESL teacher, Ms. García has helped Salem’s bilingual and bicultural students and families navigate the school system. She is setting our kids up for success, taking every effort to make sure they’re prepared to navigate the world before them. Great teachers change lives, and Ms. García has proven that she is a great teacher. Congratulations!”
 
“Ms. García is an exceptional teacher, as she educates and empowers our students to be their best despite the obstacles they face,” said Representative Paul F. Tucker. “We are appreciative of her years of service, kindness, and passion in the field of education. Thank you, Ms. García, for your hard work and values shared with our future generation.”  
 
The selection process for the 2022 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year began in January with a call for nominations from administrators, teachers, students, parents and others. An initial review of each nominated teacher’s application led to the selection of 11 semifinalists, who then submitted additional supporting material. Four finalists were selected and interviewed by a panel that included past Massachusetts Teachers of the Year. That panel then recommended two candidates to Commissioner Riley.
 
In addition to Ms. García, the finalists for this year’s award were:

  • Chantei Alves, a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher at Young Achievers K-8 School, part of the Boston Public Schools;
  • Sara Barber-Just, an English teacher at Amherst Regional High School, part of the Amherst Pelham School District; and
  • Jessica Bazinet, a second grade teacher at Allendale Elementary School, part of the Pittsfield Public Schools.

The semifinalists were:

  • Cornelia Adams, a ceramics teacher at Falmouth High School;
  • David Bedar, a history/social studies teacher at Newton North High School;
  • Ashley Clerge, a fifth grade English language arts and history/social studies teacher at Hugh Roe O’Donnell School, part of the Boston Public Schools;
  • Karen Engels, a fourth grade teacher at the Graham and Parks School, part of the Cambridge Public Schools;
  • Sara Marie Jette, a fourth grade teacher at Thompson Elementary School, part of the Arlington Public Schools;
  • Lea-Antoinette Serena, a second grade teacher at Mather Elementary School, part of the Boston Public Schools; and
  • Jami Witherell, a second grade teacher at the Newton School, part of the Greenfield Public Schools.

“Ms. García’s dedication to her students and their families is a tremendous asset for our community,” said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who chairs the Salem School Committee. “Salem is so proud of her and her many accomplishments and positive contributions to our schools, as we are of all our teachers, school staff and students.”
 
“We are lucky to have strong educators in Salem, but Marta is a standout,” said Salem Superintendent Stephen Zrike. “She teaches multilingual learners in extraordinary ways that actively involve their families and empowers them to find their voice."
 
Marta’s devotion to her students’ needs extends beyond her classroom and helps strengthen the entire school,” said Witchcraft Heights Principal Susan Carmona. “I’m thrilled to see her work recognized and celebrated.”
 
About Marta García
Marta García holds a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Valladolid in Spain and a master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Salem State University. She came to the United States as part of the Visiting Teachers from Spain program and eventually raised her family here in the hopes that her children would become bilingual.
 
“In my daily teaching, I try to help students nurture their identities and feel proud of their origins as they acquire new ways of seeing the world through a new culture and language,” Ms. García wrote in her application. “I consider myself the bridge on which my students can navigate opportunities coming from both sides, without rejecting one or the other.”
 
Ms. García lives in Salem. Prior to joining Salem Public Schools in 2006, she taught in California and Spain.

 

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Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces 2022 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

Executive Office of Education 

From pre-school to post-secondary education, the Executive Office of Education works to connect all Massachusetts residents with an education that creates opportunities.

While Massachusetts' students rank first in the nation on many educational measures, the Executive Office of Education strives to strengthen the foundations of education reform, empower schools and educators, and develop pathways to college and careers so all students in the Commonwealth can succeed, regardless of their zip code.

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education 

ESE oversees the education of children grades pre-k through 12 in Massachusetts, striving to ensure that all students across the Commonwealth succeed.
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