Excellence in Education Award Recipients

High School 


Michael Alan

Brian Allen

Joseph Auciello

Michelle Avvakumovits
Michelle Balmeo

Marc Banks

Candy Basso
Marcia Berkowitz

Winston Blackburn

Jean Brady
Krystle Breden

Joshua Bridger

Rhonda Burkhart

Lucille Burt
Donald Cannon

Wayne Chatterton

Robin Cicchetti

Richard Clem

Jan Cohn

Denton Conklin
Patricia Cote

Brandi Couch

Alison Courchesne

Cynthia Crohan

Charlene Culpepper

Sabato (Tino) D'Agostino

Patrick Daly &

   Allison Renna

Kari-Ann Daley

Bill Davis
Richard De Sorgher

Louis Dittami

Gail Duffy
Janet Fillion

Kenneth Fisher

Melissa Ann Frazier

Jason Friend

Daniel Frio

Ron Garcia

Karen Girondel

Sharon Greenholt

Joshua Hanna

Deborah Henry

Marilyn Hilliard
Lyn Holzman

Ann Jackson

Paul Johnson
Ray Jones

Mary Lou Karahalis

Laura Kay

Kathleen Kelly

Mary Keyes

Michael Kozuch

Tim Krieger

Dianne Langley

Lincoln-Sudbury  Regional H.S. Wellness Team

Mark Longeran

Mary Liu

Carole Lobach
Robert Lockhart

Melinda Lohan

Ricki Lombardo

Mark Lonergan
Thomas J. MacDonough

Ann Malachowski

Zachary Mandell

Christopher Martell

Deandra McBride

Janet McDermott

Kristen McDonnell

Mikki McMillion
Kerry Mohnike
Anne Mullany


Dawn Nelson
Jane Norton

Sheldon Obelsky

Deidre O'Halloran

Daniel O'Leary

Doug Olsen
James Page

Ann Perham

Walter Peterson
Kouida Putman

Margaret Reilly

Lisa Robinette

Elizabeth Rochin

Maria Rodriguez
Thomas Rooney
Terri Salsman de   Rodriguex

Marybeth Sacramone

Lynda Samp

Joanne Schmidt

Carla Sechman
Cathy Shachoy

Steven Lee Shoemaker

Sharon Smith

Gary Stockbridge

Natasha R. Thompson
Donnetta Torrecillas

Matt Torrens
Ed Turley

Molly Uppenkamp

Lynn Walton
George Watson



Miranda Whitmore
Lorraine Witzburg
Carol Ziemian

Michael Alan, 2006

Michael Alan is an English Teacher and advisor to the Walpole High School Film Festival and The Cricket Literary Magazine, in Walpole, MA. He is best known around town for instituting a Film Festival, which involves not only the students but faculty and administration and also the entire Walpole community. It has become one of the town's favorite events. Screenwriting students write scripts; and production crews storyboard, video and edit using iMovie and Final Cut software. A recent Spring Film Festival had eight movies plus one international film, which was shot in Spanish and shown with English subtitles. Mike does the whole “Oscar” scene,” arranging for filmmakers to be delivered by limos, a red carpet for the arrivals, and a student shot documentary of the festival.  A panel of faculty and student judges votes on award for best screen play, student actors, faculty actors, director and cinematographer.

Mike is also the advisor the Walpole High School's literary magazine, The Cricket, as well as the sponsor of students' original poetry readings at the Starbuck's Coffee House at the local Barnes & Noble every Spring and Fall. A new tradition was added in 2006 with participation of students from Walpole High School’s vocational, functional, academic Career and Education Program.

Mike has strong communication skills, a keen sense of humor, and a natural talent for creativity, which he maximizes in his lessons for students.  Students of all abilities are challenged to think critically and at high levels, and their very best efforts are encouraged and expected. His nominators note, “Through his own professional behavior, commitment of intellectual rigor, ethical thinking and passion for his subject matter, Mike serves as a powerful role model for his students.”

In addition to the many hours he spends with his students Michael also facilitates an iMovie Workshop for inter-disciplinary teams of Art, Social Studies and English teachers in order for them to create iMovies that make Visual Connections from Art to History to Literature. He also serves as mentor to new English teachers. Aside from his classroom teaching, student and teacher mentoring, and co-curricular student activities Michael somehow also finds the time to be an active screenwriter.  Dr. Frank Sambuceti, the principal of Walpole High School, comments, "In all he does, in the classroom and beyond, Mike Alan displays the ability to inspire his students to work, create, and achieve at the highest levels.  He is a truly extraordinary educator and has rightly earned the admiration of students, colleagues, and administration, alike."

Brian Allen, 2015

Brian Allen is presently Director of Security and Emergency Management and Foundations in Galena Park ISD in Houston, Texas. 

Some of Brian’s major accomplishments include the following:

  • Helping students secure $2.5 million in scholarships over an 18-year period

  • Starting and maintaining one of the strongest Gents Organizations in the Houston area, impacting the lives of hundreds of young men in the areas of citizenship, high moral standards, and high academic achievement

  • Leading students in hundreds of hours of community service

  • Mentoring students in character development and accomplishing goals through hands-on involvement in their lives

  • Serving as a teacher and administrator worthy of being called a role model

Brian has received numerous awards for his untold hours of service to students in the Galena Park area and beyond.

Joseph Auciello, 1991

Joseph Auciello, English teacher at Wayland High School, is recognized for his involvement in the initiation and implementation of Wayland High School's "Teacher Pairings Project," where teachers are encouraged to maximize their potential for interdisciplinary instruction and use joint planning to enrich curriculum. As a highly skilled teacher of English and Social Studies, he is the only teacher assigned to both departments for promoting curriculum integration and cooperation.

Endorsements from his peers note: "Mr. Auciello is a leader as well as a catalyst for others in many areas which are critical to the improvement of Wayland High School." He

has co-chaired committees; he has designed workshops for the entire faculty; he has co-taught an evening seminar series for parents to make them more involved with the high school and help them better understand the English curriculum with outstanding results.

Michele Avvakumovits, 2003

Michele Avvakumovits is a  Peer Assistance and Review Teacher at Cupertino High School  in the Fremont Union High School District in CA.  As noted by her nominators, Mrs. Avvakumovits has been an integral part of the staff at Cupertino High School for years. She is deeply interested in the intellectual and personal growth of every person with whom she comes in contact. She was instrumental in establishing a core 10th grade English-World History curriculum; she has helped move the school towards its partial block schedule and has been an instructional leader on campus. She is respected by her peers, and her students love her.  

Michele’s coaching work with first- and second-year teachers is extraordinary. She comes along side the new teachers as a friend, mother and professional coach. The success of the fourteen new teachers is in part due to her influence and skill at developing young talent. Michele meets with the teachers weekly to reflect upon their teaching practice, build their teaching strategies, strengthen their content knowledge, develop classroom management strategies, and encourage equity in the classroom.  In addition she helps to organize monthly seminars designed around the California teaching standards. She has an enormous passion for the teaching profession and shares that passion with her colleagues. 

Michelle is committed to growth and excellence in all of her students. She takes great pains to make her curriculum interesting and accessible to all students. She is willing to talk to her students about their lives and experiences and she makes them feel respected. Students enjoy being students in her classroom. 

Michelle Balmeo, 2010

Michelle Balmeo is an English teacher and journalism advisor at Monta Vista High School in the Fremont Union High School District in Cupertino, CA.

All fine teachers dream about classrooms of students actively engaged in worthwhile activities, everyone on task, everyone working together to achieve a goal, the hum of collaboration, and the synergy of learning.  It’s the dream we all strive for.  Walking into Michelle Balmeo’s classroom is like walking into that dream.

Michelle’s classroom vibrates with the intensity of learning.  And Michelle seems to be everywhere, at just the right moment, to answer a question or give a suggestion, always present and obviously in control, but also in the background, insisting that students own their own learning, take responsibility for themselves and their work.  Her goal is to make learning meaningful and authentic and to develop students who are intrinsically motivated.

Sharon Smith, an Advisory Board member of the Goldin Foundation describes her visit to Michelle’s class. “When I first met with Michelle, she made a comment that I thought was particularly revealing.  She said, “There are teachers who continue to learn and those who stopped learning when they started teaching.”  I’ll bet you can guess which type of teacher Ms Balmeo is!  Her students even comment on it—“Ms Balmeo learned to do …….and then she taught us how to do it too.”  What a role model for life-long learning.”

Michelle’s students offer further insights about her success as an educator.  Minh Bui said, “Ms. Balmeo is a lot like a wise teenager, personable like a teenager, but she has more substance.”  Jackie Bart, one of her editors when asked what she wanted people to know about Ms Balmeo, said she had to have a few minutes to think because she wanted to be sure her comment would say “everything just right.”  A few minutes later she started…and then she couldn’t stop.   Ms. Balmeo has taught us so much. She’s always there for us.  She’s improved the paper so much. We have an online section now.  Let me show you some of our papers.  Our paper is so much better—we win awards now.  She learns just so she can teach us.  You can talk to her.  She really listens.  She gives good advice.  She’s so much more than just a teacher.”  Obviously, her students both love her and respect her.

Her coworkers praise her as well. Michelle is a master of collaboration.  She brings together the skills of the yearbook advisor and the multimedia instructor, creating an intertwining, three room laboratory, complete with a studio for recording the online sections of the paper.  Jay Shelton, the yearbook advisor, says not only that Michelle was the most natural first year teacher he’s ever seen, but also that kids find a home in her classroom and that many consider it their “safety place. “

Marc Banks, 2008

Not long ago, Marc Banks graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Secondary Education and a Masters of Education in Moderate Special Needs.  Before graduating from Boston College, he completed his student teaching in the English Department at Natick High School.  Marc Banks is in his third year of teaching at Framingham High School.  He is currently teaching three sections of junior honors American Literature, one section of college prep, level 1 sophomore English, and co-teaching one section of college prep level 2 American Literature.  He is also the senior class advisor and a “Step-Up” mentor.  This year Marc is even mentoring a new teacher.  With just three years behind him in his career, Marc is described as positive, energetic, professional, charming, hardworking, and intelligent.

Marc Banks is a driven young educator. The Hero's Journey Project that he experiences with all his juniors was adapted from his student teaching experience at Natick High School.  Marc has added the elements of students maintaining logs, creating scrapbooks with their reflections, and sharing their newly acquired skill with others.   The entire year-long project, which pushes students to ‘embark on a journey of transformation’ by learning to do something new or something they once thought impossible, is tied in with the English department’s overarching theme of “The American Dream.”  Marc has participated along with his students in his own journey each year by first learning to Salsa dance, then studying digital video editing, and this year studying the art of weightlifting.

Between homework, jobs, sports, clubs, volunteering, college planning, and family time, students don’t usually have time for their established hobbies, much less to try to learn anything new.  The opportunity to participate in the “Hero’s Journey” must be just one of the many reasons students adore being in Marc Bank’s class.  One can only imagine the joy a student must feel as they choose an interest to explore for their “Hero’s Journey.”  This project promotes positive interests and self-growth.  While on the journey each student needs to keep a logbook of their experiences and have a mentor.  Whether they know it or not, students are learning some of the most important life skills through this project.  They may learn that journaling can help you find strength in yourself and solutions to your problems.  They may realize that mentors are everywhere and that teachers, parents, and friends can provide just the right amount of support when you really need it.  They may also realize that there is so much we can each accomplish as powerful, capable individuals.  At a critical time in their lives, it is heartwarming to think that these teenagers are being given an opportunity to amaze themselves with their own talent and strength.

Marc Banks truly cares about his students.  His principal noted that Marc makes a serious effort to contact the parents of his students to get their opinions about how he can best facilitate a positive classroom setting for their children.  Marc is respected by his colleagues, his students, and their parents.

When one observes Marc in action, it is clear that he is a very engaging teacher who pulls students into conversations, and draws on their critical thinking abilities.  Really outstanding educators push their students to provide opinions and make connections with the material rather than just regurgitate memorized facts.  Outstanding educators prepare their students to be adaptable, flexible, and creative.  They help young people explore their full range of potential, and serve as models for their peers, students, parents, and the community.  Marc Banks is one of these outstanding educators.

Candy Basso, 2008

Candy Basso is an ELD teacher at Del Mar High School in Campbell, CA.  ELD stands for English Language Development and refers to programs and instruction for students whose primary language is not English.  Some schools in California may have only one ELD teacher, or maybe none.  Del Mar High School has an entire ELD department with four teachers, and Candy serves the chair.

Candy’s students come from all over the world, but they are mostly from Mexico, Central America, and West Africa.  Jim Russell, Candy’s principal, says that she has worked tirelessly to build and train a staff of highly qualified and dedicated teachers who are committed to helping Del Mar’s English learners gain the skills necessary to be successful in the United States.  In fact, Del Mar is in the middle of a remarkable turnaround.  Last year it was recognized as a California Distinguished School, and its overall school test scores have increased dramatically.  Jim Russell states that the efforts of Candy Basso and her ELD colleagues have been an important factor in this trend toward closing the achievement gap at Del Mar.

Candy is an energetic, enthusiastic teacher who uses her creative gifts in every way possible to help her students.  She has spent many hours in training and implementing the

“Write Program” which helps students develop their writing skills.  In her classroom, there are many charming little short stories her students had written as part of this curriculum.  The “Verb Wall” displays several frequently used verbs in print.  The different tenses of the verbs are cleverly color-coded to help the English learner.  Candy has discovered

that students remember better when words or concepts are put to song.  With her guitar and her beautiful voice, she creates little ditties which she incorporates into Power Point presentations for her classroom lessons.  Perhaps her most impressive endeavor is the book she has co-authored called, “Coming to America”. This beautiful book tells the inspiring stories of her immigrant students, along with their pictures and compelling quotes.

When she is not busy in her classroom, Candy also serves as coach for both the girls’ tennis and boys’ golf teams. She even wrote a successful grant for students who wanted to play golf but could not afford the expense. The grant pays for green fees, uniforms, transportation, and loaner golf clubs!

 A look at Candy’s biographical information reveals many interesting connections with her teaching.  Because her mother was an immigrant from Austria, Candy was always fascinated with the German language and culture.  She chose German as her major at San Jose State, and sharpened her language skills when she lived in Germany for two years. 

She taught German and English at St. Francis before

marrying and becoming the mother of three children.  While her children were young, she worked for a while in a

business which helped immigrants improve their accents.  Incidentally, Candy and all three of her children are

graduates of Del Mar High School! After passing the CBEST and CLAD credential tests, Candy returned to teaching as

 an ELD teacher at Del Mar in 1997. In 2006, she was selected as Teacher of the Year for Del Mar, as well as for Campbell Union High School District.   It is clear that many of Candy’s life experiences have been important stops along the road to becoming the exceptional ELD teacher she is today.

Marcia Berkowitz, 2001

Marcia Berkowitz is Department Chair of Student Services of the Needham Public Schools.  Her nominators cite a a quote by Henry Drummond. "Half the world is on the wrong scent in the pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having, and getting, and in being served by others." Marcia epitomizes the latter. Happiness consists in giving and serving others. In her dual capacity of supervising the special education and counseling staffs at Needham High School., she is "truly a gifted educator, advocate, and administrator.

A talented educator, Marcia understands the needs and life circumstances of her students, be they students or teachers. Some high school students may have significant learning disabilities and long histories of school failure, and Marcia will help them take risks in their difficult tasks of learning, With young teachers, she will encourage them to expand their skills, try new approaches, and be reflective about their craft. Under her guidance, teachers challenge their own belief systems and raise their expectations for students and know that all children can learn.

As an advocate, Marcia mobilizes a variety of resources as she finds ways to address the needs of students. She is the key contact person for issues involving low achieving students,. She has consistently showed initiative and creativity in developing concepts and programs, having them funded, and implementing them in ways to establish permanence.

To cite several examples:

* Marcia was the founding teacher of the PRIDE Program, which stands for Performance, Respect, Intellectual Development, and Effort.  Special ed students are provided with a strong academic support system and close personal connection with a teacher who acts as a mentor liaison to

 help ensure students success.

* She established a n alternative program for at risk students who owed detention hours and who were at risk for dropping out of school Students served their detention time in a ropes course that culminated in an experiential climb of the Blue Hills and a weekend camping trip. This was under the direction of a social worker and a health, physical education teacher. All of the participants remained in school so the program was highly successful.

*A related program involving a camping trip involved low achieving high school mentors and at risk incoming freshmen mentees. The group met weekly with high school counselors and an experiential education teacher from the middle school for team building skills and orientation to the high school setting. The program served to help incoming freshman become connected and excited about their transition to high school. Having an adult connection at the high school has also helped to form better counselor-student relationships. All participants including the present high school students are continuing in their academic and social growth.

With an Assistant Principal Marcia created an outstanding video program on teen issues and the law, which involved members of the District Attorney and Norfolk County Sheriff's Office who presented seminars to Needham High students regarding legal implications of their decision making. This program was so successful that a similar program for other area high schools was developed using the original Needham High video.

According to her nominators, "Marcia is a tremendous asset to the Needham school system. Many students, without even realizing her behind the scenes selfless involvement can

credit her with that special helping hand that has been instrumental in their academic success."


Winston Blackburn, 2010


Winston Blackburn, a history teacher at Natick High School, is a well-traveled man. Everybody who hears about his experiences feels some jealousy. He took a sabbatical from teaching to travel, (granted, as part of his self styled Master’s program that would be parlayed into teaching and learning in the classroom). Many people felt disheartened that none of them had thought of it first!  It is truly amazing that such a program of study could be done.  Winston’s itinerary included South Africa, Swaziland, Rwanda, Kenya, India, Israel, Egypt, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, China, and Tibet. It is interesting to take notice that many of these places are known for their unrest as well as their scenery!


Winston took the many hours of video he shot on his trip and turned them into experiences his students could appreciate and learn from.  Clearly, he uses his

first-hand experiences to make history come alive even as it is occurring.  He has effectively made our large world, with all its beauty and all of its ugliness, accessible and understandable to students who may never have the opportunity or impetus to visit the places and people he did.  What better way to teach

about apartheid in Africa than to show a video of the changes in neighborhoods

and to listen to interviews with people who were directly involved.  A concept

that can be remote and hard for students to imagine becomes much more personal, and real.


Winston impacts children beyond his classroom walls. He helped a group of students test the ROV they designed in a lake in NH.  It helps that he is also a certified diver!  He has hosted afternoon talks about his experiences, after school, to a standing room only group.  His classroom is visited by students outside of school hours because they feel welcome, even when they are not in his classes.  Clearly, Winston is a Renaissance man, well deserving of recognition for excellence in education through receiving the Goldin Award.

Jean Brady, 2003

To honor the accomplishments of a distinguished English teacher, one would do well to consider the words of a distinguished English poet.  It was Alexander Pope who wrote “Let such teach others who themselves excel.”  Jean Brady, the

English Department Chair of Norwood Junior and Senior High Schools, certainly excels. As she teaches others, she meets or surpasses the exacting standards set down by the great poet.

Colleagues and coworkers praise Jean Brady abundantly and enthusiastically as one who for decades has exhibited exemplary qualities as a teacher and leader.  Collectively her principal, fellow department chair, and teacher in her department, cite her creativity, energy, and enthusiasm. They laud her genuine commitment to students not only in the classroom, but also in her pioneering efforts to create enduring programs that will richly benefit this and future generations of Norwood students.

Tom MacDonough, Chair of History/Social Sciences, writes, “Jean has forcefully and effectively introduced computer technology throughout her department, has revised and rewritten the English curriculum, and has developed a website and e-mail system to communicate with parents in the community.  Her major project has been to develop and maintain the ‘Norwood High School Research Paper Handbook’ web page.  Accessible from the Norwood High School homepage, it supports research and writing instruction across the curriculum.”

 From these observations it is clear that Ms. Brady rightly places English in the hub of the academic wheel.  This judgement follows not from some misplaced sense of interdepartmental cooperation. Students, in other words, acquire certain skills in an English class which they use and reinforce in other classes throughout the school day, even if they do not think they are “doing English.”  I can add that some English classes at my school ,Wayland High, have also used the material available on the Norwood Home Page. These students have commented that the research guidelines on the website that Ms/ Brady developed are more clear,

straightforward, and helpful than any other they have found or previously used. No one should be surprised to learn that Ms. Brady continues to improve and update this project.  Currently, Jean is working on Power Point presentations to add to

this page. This is one more example of the “conscientiousness and genuine commitment to the education of students,” which Principal George Usevich

cites as a distinguishing trait of Jean Brady.


Jean is also a leader.  Walter Peterson, a colleague, points out how she handle the problem of hiring new staff for MCAS remediation.  “She assigned the new hire 40% of the MCAS load and gave three freshman/sophomore teachers 20% each, reassigning one class from each to the new hire. Thus,

instead of MCAS remediation being off to the side, these MCAS classes are taught by English teachers and the

position is fully integrated into the department."

A carpenter might view the screwdriver or a hammer as the right tool to solve a problem; but teachers, even the unknown new hires, are more than tools.  However much teachers are people who can help to solve problems, they are people whose careers can benefit from the thoughtfulness and consideration of exemplary educators.  Jean Brady is such an administrator.

Krystle Breden, 2016

Krystle Breden, Social Studies Teacher and Instructional Specialist at North Shore Senior High, Galena Park ISD, in Houston, Texas, was first hired six years ago as the Psychology teacher and Color Guard Director. Three days into the school year, her course load was completely changed to a full load of US History, which is where her passion for teaching Social Studies first began. In her first year of teaching, 100% of Krystle’s students passed the US History TAKS test, despite 90% of her students being identified as “at-risk”. That year, she was awarded the Rookie Teacher of the Year for her campus and the entire Galena Park District. Currently, Krystle teaches the US History STAAR remediation course and serves as both the Social Studies Instructional Specialist and Department Chair.  

Krystle’s class is focused on student-centered activities that put kids in the middle of the learning. On any given day, you can see various instructional strategies being employed to reach her students. One day, you could be a part of the immigration experience of the late 18th century, and on another, you could be caught in the middle of a trench war battle during her World War I unit. Not only are her classes highly engaging, but she excels at helping students who struggle academically. She incorporates various strategies in order to scaffold and preview vocabulary for her ELL students, and she is always planned weeks in advance to ensure that each lesson is connected and aligned.

In her role as the Social Studies Department Chair & Instructional Specialist, she leads a team of twenty-five teachers in lesson planning, professional development trainings, mentoring new teachers, and working with the administrative team in order to analyze data and plan remediation efforts. On any given Saturday leading up to the US History EOC, you can find Krystle’s entire team teaching Saturday tutorials with enthusiasm. Through her leadership and ability to build strong relationships, the Social Studies Department and students have excelled and serve as a model to her campus.

Teachers nominating Krystle say, “Krystle is a rare and exceptional teacher. She is only in her sixth year of teaching but has the professionalism, the efficiency, and the competence of a master teacher. She commands the respect of her students as well as the veteran teachers she works with. Krystle’s ability to understand curriculum and instruction and her passion and drive for student success is an asset to Galena Park Independent School District. The key to her many successes is her compassion, drive, and analytical mind. Krystle’s background is very different from her students and yet she is able to truly connect with her students in a way that motivates them to achieve at the highest level.”

Joshua Bridger, 2010

Joshua Bridger is a math and science teacher at Dover-Sherborn Regional High School.

The field of education is known for using acronyms and there’s a new one being talked about a lot these days, STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Joshua Bridger is certainly an educator who exemplifies the promise of STEM initiatives being developed throughout the country and our state.  He has taught and/or taken courses in astronomy, physics, nanotechnology, house building, calculus, geometry, and acoustic instrument making.

Josh has also managed to successfully combine his STEM talent with so many other of areas of interest that he can truly be described is a modern Renaissance man.

A few highlights:

Josh, the musician, developed a five week physics lab that built electric guitars from scratch for his students during his 2nd year of teaching in the Washington D.C. area. The lab was expanded at Dover-Sherborn and combines physics, sound theory, electromagnetism, and mathematics.  The lab was featured in the Washington Post and Boston Globe, nightly news and local radio programs and most of all, it is enthusiastically received by students.  Josh also sings with Chorus Pro Musica, and at Dover-Sherborn, he coaches the Music Club and started an a capella singing group. A digital recording studio obtained through a grant that he wrote is used by numerous students for concerts, original CD’s and musical portfolios for college applications.

Josh. the photographer, introduced a digital photography course at his high school, which is now a  popular elective.

Josh, the world traveler has gone to Switzerland, Japan, Moscow, and the Southwestern United States to pursue professional development opportunities that have ripple effects for his students, bringing them rich content, experiential labs, and opportunities.  One program was at a particle physics lab in Switzerland where he spent four weeks developing curriculum with twenty European physics teachers and four works working on a small component of one of the particle detectors for the Large Hadron Collider. Another experience was at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which led to developing hands-on radio astronomy projects for high school students, which he shared with other teachers.  During April vacations in 2004, 2006, and 2009, Josh took students on ten day academic astronomy trips to the southwest and using his contacts and the National Observatories, was able in design an in-depth tour of these institutions and have students do experiments there.

And Josh, the traveling scholar, has presented at conferences in St. Louis, Seattle, New Orleans, and Boston.  Several summer vacations are spent travelling with a group of D-S students to remote parts of South Africa for leadership, trekking, and community service expeditions.

Add to all that his extensive coursework in the Culinary Arts, including a certificate from L’Academie Cuisine.

Above all, however, Josh Bridger is a talented and giving teacher, and it is his contribution to our field that we celebrate tonight.  After meeting with him and his class a few weeks ago, Harriet Goldin, President of the Goldin Foundation, described him as “a remarkable man with so many accomplishments, who chose to be a teacher in order to share his talents and expertise with young people.”

Rhonda Burkhart, 2015

Rhonda Burkhart is Health,  PE  teacher, and Girls Athletic Coordinator at Crosby Middle School in Crosby, Texas.

If an educator can make a difference or change the lives of a few students a year, that is a great accomplishment.  Rhonda is a difference maker and has helped shape life choices of 512 Crosby Middle School students who have participated in initiatives she has led.  Her principal, Todd Hicks, states that “through her interactions with students, she has not only helped shape them academically, but has helped shape their character as young men and women.”

Some highlights of her success :

  • Teaming with MD Anderson, Rhonda successfully led over 400 students through the ASPIRE program, which is a unique teen savvy, anti-smoking program. It focused on the effects of smoking and making good choices.

  • Spearheaded the Breast Cancer Awareness Recognition ceremony that honored 5 cancer survivors. This put a face to the disease for her students and gave them a better understanding of the month of October.

  • Co-ordinated through the athletic program a “Secret Santa” that, with student donations, gave several needy families a nice Christmas. It also gave her students an opportunity to help others in their community.

  • Implemented the Texas Adolescent Tobacco and Marketing Surveillance Study through the University of Texas. The results are shared with the FDA in an effort to shape regulations that prevent the use of tobacco in youth.

  • Ms. Burkhart has furthered her dedication to students’ well-being by becoming a member of the CATCH program. The program devotes itself to a holistic approach to overcoming and eventually eliminating childhood obesity. Rhonda’s students are taught to make better life-decisions that can affect them both physically and mentally.

Ms. Burkhart is steadfastly committed herself to the betterment of her students and in doing so has helped shape the Crosby community as a whole. She is to be commended.

Lucile Burt, 2003

Lucile Burt, English teacher at Arlington High School in Arlington, has had many accomplishments in her long career as an educator.  She was on the first national has led colleagues and students in the search for truth and ethical decision-making in past and recent faculty senate meetings, during times of need, and in her classroom throughout her career in education.  She has sponsored the Volunteers Club at Arlington High connecting students with community groups.  She sponsors the literary magazine, “Imagine,” that enables students to publish their creative writings in a format that students can be proud of.  More recently Lucile has sponsored the National Honor Society supporting academic and ethical rigor in honors students.  

Lucile has successfully integrated cooperative groups and evaluative discussions using the inner-outer circle technique in her classes. One of her greatest strengths is her ability to listen to people.  Through her active listening, Lucile draws out truths and understandings from students that would normally go unnoticed.  Students trust her enough to willingly open their minds and hearts to her  in the circle of her classroom.

Lucile treats her students, practice teachers and colleagues with equally high respect.  She teaches life lessons that help her students to be responsible, productive citizens.  Lucile has also produced formal poetry readings by her Creative Writing students on special evenings in special places where her students can invite significant guests to hear them read their works. Many students have considered Lucile to be “the best teacher that they have ever had,” and they frequently come back to describe their accomplishments to her.

Lucile has served as a model for her students and colleagues alike.  She is the epitome of for what the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education stands.

Donald Cannon, 1997

Donald Cannon serves as Chairman of the English Department at Dover-Sherborn High School. As noted by his nominators, Don brings an unusual combination of qualities to his work, whether it be teaching, coaching, or leading his peers as chairperson. He displays a genuine honesty, a sensitivity to the needs of others, a passion for excellence, a desire to bring out the best in each person, and a disciplined and strong work ethic. Bill Davis, Chairperson of Social Studies comments, "Don not only challenges students' minds but he reaches into their souls. He encourages students to find meaning in life and to utilize their inner strengths. He sees good in all kids, and he envisions potential in every student. Whenever I observe Mr. Cannon with students, he is boosting their confidence and telling them they can succeed. He dares his students to strive to excel academically." At the same time that Don inspires students to explore literature assiduously, he keeps the classroom environment fun; for he has great wit and is the first to say that he never takes himself seriously. He continuously makes sure that students see connections to themselves and to the world at large. For fifteen years his Juniors Honors Mythology course has been among the most inspiring offerings in the school. Students are directed along a path of myth analysis which is based on self-examination ( a Joseph Campbell approach to myth); and they gain insight from comparing their own trials and odysseys to those of King Arthur, Tristan and Isolde or Odysseus. In all of Don's classes. academics are inter-woven with non-textual connections: art prints, creation of a mandala, and compilation of a set of stories, all designed to make students owners of their work.

As department chair, Don is not just a motivator. Christopher DuBose, English teacher notes that "Don brings to his position a wonderful sense of rebirth every day. Maybe we can or should offer a new course. Would this book be better than that one? Can we combine our thinking in these two classes to improve our curriculum? Don takes the time at school and at home to evaluate what we, as a department are doing, and to look at curriculum in a new light. This means the obtaining of grant monies every year, for the purpose of exploring a new curriculum, studying the literature of a culture we are slightly ignoring, and bringing in a variety of performers, speakers, writers and poets . Don is full of fresh ideas."

Outside the classroom Don has been an outstanding soccer and basketball coach. His tenure with the girls varsity basketball was the most successful in the school's history, twice bringing the team to the Sectional Finals and in 1988 to the Sectional Championship. As the Girls Soccer Coach he took his team to the state tournament all sixteen years which winning six league titles. In 1992 he was named Boston Globe Coach of the Year, and in 1995 he was voted Eastern Mass Coach of the Year . He has also coached Boys Junior Varsity Basketball for six years. More outstanding than his technical knowledge and winning record is his ability to work with young athletes fostering their confidence and his example of sportsmanship.

Each year Don and English teacher Ken Potts take 50-70 students white water rafting on the Dead River in Maine. Ken recalls, "It is amazing to watch the child in him come alive again, whether it be leading a handful of kids to the chilly river water for a midnight swim, organizing the largest game of "capture the flag" ever played, or smiling in satisfaction that another group has come to enjoy this unique experience. Not only has Don a gift for teaching but a gift for living - and anyone who has ever known him is richer for having made his acquaintance."

Wayne Chatterton, 1993

Wayne Chatterton is an English Teacher at Westwood High School. One of his nominators for the Goldin Foundation Awards reflected, “Much of the strength of Wayne’s candidacy comes from his consistent every day excellence that is overwhelmingly communicated by students…..He relates to students.  We feel that we are accomplishing something together.....  He asks us  to answer one question, and somehow the class takes over.  He teaches us to work together - to figure things out and to solve things together......We start talking about one topic but everything seems connected, even our first journal entry at the

beginning of the year is connected to everything we’ve done.”It is this challenge of asking students to make connections - to other material  studied, to the contemporary world, to other subjects, and to students’ personal lives that brings excitement and a freshness to classroom experiences,

whether in  Creative Writing  or Humanities courses, all of which are oversubscribed.

Mutual respect, caring, and a concern for maximizing the potential of all kids is reflected outside of the classroom as well.  Wayne has been involved as Faculty Advisor for the Student Council, Literary Magazine. Student Governance Committee. and English/Language Arts Committee.  His latest challenge is establishing a Creative Writing Lab at the High School  for students and members of the community.

Wayne has been described as a subtle catalyst in maintaining a dynamic educational environment.  He shares his ideas with colleagues, even motivating the more traditional to try out some of his creative methods.  One final testimony to his excellence in education is the desire expressed by some of his students to enter the teaching profession as a result of his influence.

Robin Cicchetti, 2010

Wikis, blogs, NoodleTools, Glogster, Nings, Jing, Voice thread  ….. welcome to the new,  new world of global information.    The library at Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord, MA is now the Learning Commons, thanks to the vision of Robin Cicchetti, the premier Global Information Specialist.  In her blog of December 29, 2009, Robin notes to faculty and staff:  Libraries are crucial in this age of abundant information, but only if they provide relevant support for those actively navigating the digital environment.  Hang up your “shhh,” stop fussing over the coffee cups, welcome students in with wide open arms along with their mess and Facebook.  Give them new tools so that they can find, evaluate, and create.  Teach them how to be ethical and productive citizens.  Teach them how to communicate responsibly and publish to the world.  Creativity can be messy and loud.  Get over it.  Welcome to the Learning Commons.”

Robin reaches out to teachers to help them understand the needs of their students also referred to as “digital natives.”  She developed a Learning Commons site that provides direct instruction to teachers and students for increasing their use of technology skills.  Her “Web 2.0 Smack Down,” is a head-spinning introduction to the wide variety of Internet tools and applications.   Her blog has a dedicated following of librarians, teachers, and parents.  Recently a bestselling author and marketing guru, Seth Godin, wrote an article on libraries that linked to Robin’s blog that set off thousands of hits from librarians around the world.  Robin also writes book reviews for “Goodreads” and for her own blog, “Robin is Busy Reading.”

Some of Robin’s other initiatives include:

  • Implementation of an Internet safety program within the library curriculum when thinking about these issues was ahead of its time

  • Collaboration with the DARE program run by the local police department to incorporate Internet safety policies.

  • Coordination with a physical education teacher on a school-wide project called “Fit Lit” that promoted dual goals of reading for pleasure combined with fitness and exercise.

  • The One School-One Book Program, in which over the course of a year students read  a book, then participate in group discussions, and learn about other cultures both physically at the library or online using wikispaces and Facebook groups. This year’s book was Three Cups of Tea, and parents participated also.

  • Evening presentations for parents about Facebook and other online social networking tools. A recent parent newsletter included her article ”Facebook Parent Tips: Ten Privacy Settings Every User Should Know.”

  • Participation on the Yong Adult Committee of the Concord Free Public Library that discusses community-wide programming for teens.

ØA  According to her nominators, “Robin embraces the unknown and is prepared to jettison the familiar if it fails to move learning and student achievement forward.  She is a thoughtful and crucial voice in discussions of change and innovation and is the first to roll-up her sleeves to make things happen.  She is enthusiastic while being supportive, positive, and understanding with those who may feel overwhelmed. Robin is a district leader in recognizing the 21st Century skills that students need to master to be successful in life and work in this global knowledge economy, and she has transformed teaching and learning.”

Richard Clem, 2011

Richard Clem is Director of Bands for Ross S. Sterling High School, in Baytown, Texas.  He is a Master Teacher, who shares his musical talents with zeal.  He offers a life of service to his community, his church, his school district, his students, his colleagues, and his family.

Richard shares his heartfelt music with his community by building a strong music program that represents them with pride.  His hard work and efforts have been rewarded with many Sweepstakes ratings in UIL competitions.

He shares his unique talents with his church by serving the needy of the area, working on projects in his local church, and providing his musical talents to the services.  He volunteers in the community outreach organizations and with several charities.

In his school district, Richard shares his song by leading various leadership and curriculum teams, by being a mentor and strong teaching example, and by providing a demanding music program that develops a life-long appreciation of music.

He shares his song with children throughout the state, by serving on various committees at the region and state levels and by teaching and sharing techniques to other music professionals at the that music conventions.  He shares his musical abilities by composing and arranging music for individual student needs in his band program and with other area symphonic groups as well.

He is an advocate for his students, always taking a special interest in their unique needs and desires.  He is an encourager that challenges students to reach goals that are far beyond their wildest dreams.

By all accounts, Richard is a wonderful family man . He is a “Master Teacher,” who is well versed in curriculum integration: a team player, an encourager for all people; a negotiator bringing everyone together when difficult decisions are to be made: a respecter of persons who meets the needs of all students; a developer of character;  an example of the highest standards, and a friend to all.

Jan Cohn, 2015

Jan Cohn is a Health & Wellness Teacher at Norwood High School, Norwood Public Schools, MA. Since she joined the faculty of Norwood High School nearly 10 years ago as a member of the Health and Wellness Department, she has taught approximately 4,000 students. While those in other academic areas have around 100 students per year, Jan sees every single freshman and sophomore in the building in her health classes. What’s remarkable about that number is not just the “bigness” of it, but the joy with which Jan has approached teaching and getting to know each one of those 4,000 students. In her own words, Jan’s approach to teaching health and wellness is to “help students discover how awesome they are.” That “awesomeness” that Jan seeks out in each student is what she loves about her job. She sings the praises of her students rather than tout her own successes.

While some may be quick to dismiss Health class as a side-note to the high school academic experience, Jan has helped to make the Health curriculum part of the core of the NHS experience. She began her professional career in nursing, and in caring for her patients she learned firsthand that being “well” goes far beyond just physical health.  Jan has brought this unique understanding to her teaching. She helped to transform the health curriculum to focus on core concepts in Sean Covey book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.” These principles are: be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; think to first understand and then to be understood; synergize, and sharpen the saw - make Jan’s class much more than something that checks a box on the graduation requirements. Her health class is really more of a “life” class.

Jan’s innovative approach in her curriculum is reflected in all of the other projects she has undertaken. She has brought wellness to a more prominent place in the mindset of students with her regular “Health Tips” segment on the morning news.  She has helped to write all of the curriculum for the new Advisory Program at NHS, and her lessons have helped each student explore important themes like self-motivation and good citizenship. Her own advisory has become an exemplar of these values, as students travelled to volunteer at Boston’s Christmas in the City the past few years and have bonded together because, as one of her students put it, “Ms. Cohn makes each student feel safe and special.” Jan is also a founding advisor of the Mustang Mentors program, and has trained an incredibly diverse group of students to become peer leaders in the advisory program.

Student nominators enthusiastically endorsed Jan Cohn for an Excellence in Education award. “She strives to have a positive impact on students’ lives through her teaching.” For every student and teacher who has worked alongside her or sat in her classes, the universal comment is “Through her passionate and caring teaching, Jan has succeeded in her goal, and Norwood High is more ‘awesome’ because of her.”

Denton Conklin, 2009

Denny Conklin is  a History teacher at Framingham High School in Framingham, MA. 

To say that he is passionate about teaching is an understatement. Driven by memories of tedious history classes when he was in high school, Denny works tirelessly to engage his students. The two goals Denny strives to achieve in his classroom are building strong connections with his kids and making history relevant to their lives. Denny has gone above and beyond achieving these two goals.


With his warm presence, Denny applauds the students for their achievements both inside and outside of the classroom. During a quick break in class, he asks students to look at his blank calendar for April and urges them to fill in the dates with their concerts and after-school games. He tells the kids how much he enjoys being outside on a warm spring day, watching sports. He mentions to one student how impressed he is that she made All- State Orchestra. Denny’s true gift is his ability to find that distinctive strength in every student.


Denny is driven to make a connection with each one of his students. One of Denny’s colleagues states that he has been known to stay at school until 8:00 at night, meeting with parents/guardians and students. He sets up these meetings on his own, sharing strengths and weaknesses of the individual student and discussing ways the student can improve. At the end of the year, Denny takes the time to write a letter to every single student in his classes. He also gives each student a unique award. When asked if it’s challenging to come up with an award for every child, Denny casually answers, “It’s actually really easy.” He knows his students that well.


Denny uses everything is his power to engage his students so they learn the material. He integrates technology into his classroom, challenging kids to create blogs and twitter accounts written from the perspectives of famous people in history. He often has a project of the day at the end of each class period where students are asked to apply the material they’ve learned.


Denny’s two-week unit on “Social Justice” changes lives, as he challenges his students to think about their place in the world. Students learn about who they are and how they affect other people. Inspired students volunteer at Rosie’s Place, a Boston women’s shelter, A Place To Turn in Natick, and at the Salvation Army in Framingham.  Students have also done recycling projects, donated clothing, worked with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and done personal projects like refraining from using discriminatory language. 


It is clear that students in Denny Conklin’s class will never associate the word “tedious” with their history course at Framingham High School. Instead they will walk away changed, inspired, with a clear understanding of how history is relevant to their lives.

Denny  has already impacted his students and it is extraordinary to think of the powerful effect he will have in his career as an educator.  

Patricia Cote, 1992

Dr. Patricia Cote is a Social Studies Teacher at Natick High School. "Dr. Cote," according to her Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Joseph Keefe, "is the model of professional secondary school teachers. During her twenty-eight years of teaching, she has been in the vanguard of those faculty members who continue to expand their professional and personal experience and skills with significant impact on students and peers."

Professionally, Pat has been the force behind a number of innovations in the Natick schools. As Chairperson of the Social Studies Department at the Junior High, she facilitated the team-teaching concept and the transition to a middle school approach. At the high school, she implemented Advance Placement Modern European History with its challenge of developing new curriculum. To note one approach to teaching history, Dr. Cote utilizes drama where students develop a theme, write an appropriate script, cast and direct a production followed by a performance that is videotaped and then discussed. Pat extends herself to students for individual help and even hosts evening seminars at her home for students each semester.

Throughout her career, Pat has set for herself and others a very high standard of excellence, serving as a positive role model for students and teachers. While on sabbatical leave, she earned a doctorate at Harvard. During these years of dynamic changes in education and technology, Pat has not only kept up with innovations, she instituted many of them. Making computers an integral part of her students' classroom experience has added new excitement in the teaching of Global Studies and Modern European History. Her own passion for travel and interaction with others around the world whether it be adult exchange visits, hosting foreign visitors, or sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with students personifies all that global awareness means and attempts to achieve.

Brandi Couch, 2013

Brandi Couch, is the Journalism & Speech Teacher/Student Activities Coordinator at North Shore Senior High 9th Grade Campus in Galena Park ISD , TX. She wears many hats at  her school. She is the Student Activities Coordinator, Student Council Sponsor, Cheerleading and Yearbook Sponsor, Teacher of Communications Applications, and Teacher of the Encounters Gifted and Talented class. For thirteen years, she has been changing students’ lives and improving her school’s culture and climate. Her greatest contribution is molding student leaders who are proud of their school and community.

Here are some of the programs Brandi has initiated:

Fish Camp: is a new orientation program for freshmen to help in their transition to high school, is designed to give them a sense of ownership, pride and belonging.   Before Fish Camp began, freshmen got a tour of the school with no real theme or plan.  Now there are clubs to recruit members, presentations to parents by administrators, and fun activities for the incoming freshmen.  Fish Camp starts the campus year with a healthy dose of school spirit that continues throughout the year with pep rallies and team competitions.

One unique achievement is the Next Page Book Exchange, a fully functioning used bookstore for all ages and interests that is designed to encourage reading for pleasure. With agreement from the administration, Brandi and her Student Council members began collecting donations of used books.  Once they reached 5000 books, they began working on the portable building they were given.  The Next Page, which is open after school and on weekends now has been open for more than 2 years and has expanded into three portable buildings to offer more space to the overwhelming number of books donated. Five rooms include young adult fiction, adult fiction, non-fiction, and 2 children’s rooms.  Due to the enthusiastic response, everyone can now take a first book for free at each visit.  Students can exchange their books for others.  At bookstore workshops, Brandi and her students explain how field trips, game days, and craft projects can excite kids about reading.  They talk to parents about the importance of modeling reading. Brandi trains and guides the students, but they do the work, make the decisions, and learn by experience.  This is a tremendous learning opportunity for student leaders that also promotes lifelong learning.

Students partake in many different community outreach programs. Project Cloverleaf provides Christmas holiday meals and gifts to families in the community.  Student Council members along with some teachers deliver the gifts. Several student groups are involved in planning and implementing additional fundraisers, drives, and collections.  With her Encounters group, Brandi created a new curriculum focused on service to the community requiring that each student or group of students complete a Student Activist Project that includes volunteer work, public service announcements, and presentations to students and community members.

Brandi’s nominators conclude, “Mrs. Couch’s educational achievements are actually best measured through the achievements of those around her.  Whether it is a student leading his first student council meeting, a child falling in love with a book for the first time, or a new teacher who decides once and for all that teaching is the right career choice, Brandi’s greatest triumph is her unique ability to inspire and motivate others to be their very best.

Alison Courchesne, 2010

Alison Courchesne is an English teacher at Framingham High School in Massachusetts. Her nominators state that Alison is “a self-starter with the originality and creativity that it takes to invent new, fun, effective lessons.”  “She inspires both our strongest AP seniors and our most challenging ninth graders.  She is an absolute gem.”  Her department chair calls her “professional, personable, intellectual, insightful, humorous, and humble.” She is applauded by one of her colleagues as having the ability to “influence change in her department and throughout the school” and her enthusiasm for believing that combining technology with creative lesson planning is the new way to spell success. Her principal proudly talks about Alison’s ability to use resources to create a learning community.

Alison instituted the Poetry Slam at Framingham High School, which has become a widely acclaimed annual event. In this competition, students, as individuals or in groups, recite either original or previously authored poems in front of their peers.  Selected students from an enthusiastic audience rate the poems, and after the series of preliminary events, finalists compete at an evening showdown at the Amazing Things Arts Center.  Students, parents, and members of the community attend this program.

Alison’s energies reach far and wide.  In her few short years at Framingham High School, Alison has adopted blended learning delivery (which combines online and face-to-face delivery), serves as advisor to the school’s Model Congress, and has written grants in excess of $100,000. And, in her spare time, Alison does what great teachers do…she inspires students…to know more…to invite change into their lives…to think differently….and to be new.

Alison is a 1999 graduate of Framingham High School, Alison now teaches two Advanced Placement English classes, two mid-level sophomores, creative writing and public speaking.  A graduate of Magill University, Alison returned to her high school first as a permanent substitute, and later as a full-time member of the English department.  Her English Department Chair wasn’t a bit surprised at her success, noting that even when she was a student in his AP class eleven years ago, Alison “seemed capable of teaching her peers.”

Cynthia Crohan, 2008

Cindy was nominated for excellence as a creative and innovative educator.  With the three bears as plaintiff she tries Goldilocks in her law classes, and she convenes the Constitutional Convention in her United States History classes.  Her students OWN the Bill of Rights, and they write and perform their own songs in a unit on Industrialization.

Outside the classroom, Cindy’s contributions to our school community are exceptional.  She is Natick High School’s ELNA advisor, a national organization that educates leaders for a non-violent age.  From the helm of ELNA Cindy has

led the school community in fundraising efforts and global awareness. She has educated and urged students and

 teachers to action in helping victims of the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Genocide in Darfur, and Aids relief in Uganda.  She has enlightened staff and students alike on the abuses of Child Labor through Free the Children and promoted tolerance with a MIX it Up Day in the cafeteria where students sit with students they do not know.

Cindy has brought a series of fun, morale- boasting game shows to Natick High School. She has created Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Family Feud and Hollywood Squares with NHS students and staff making fun of themselves for many worthy causes.

Cindy will drop anything she is doing and help fellow teachers or students with anything.  There is no tidbit of research information she cannot hunt down and no

machinery or device she cannot fix.  She is a constant source of news awareness,

if one has not seen last night’s Frontline, Bill Moyers, or recent congressional hearings she can fill you in.  She is CNN, “Crohan Natick News.”  She sends her colleagues helpful websites, articles, and commentaries regularly, without her we might be woefully uninformed.

Cindy Crohan is an unsung hero.  She would rather be praising someone else; she hates the spotlight, but without teachers like her, staff and students would be in

the dark.

Charlene Culpepper, 2014

Charlene Culpepper is an English Teacher & Department Chair at North Shore Senior High 9th Grade Campus in Galena Park. TX. Two minutes into a visit in her classroom, and you easily understand why she is a Goldin Foundation award recipient. Love for her subject and, more importantly, for her students emanates from every part of her, and her students respond in kind.  Challenging yet nurturing, firm but fun, Charlene demands and receives the best from her students.

Charlene didn’t start her career as a teacher. The daughter of Charles and Irelene Turner, she graduated from the University of Texas with a journalism degree.  But while she was covering the education beat at the Williamson County Sun, she noticed that the teachers she interviewed seemed to have all the fun.  Still working as a reporter, she signed on as a driver’s education teacher to earn extra money. If anything can prepare you for a classroom, it has to be sitting in the front seat of a 2,000-pound piece of gas-powered machinery with young, nervous, uncoordinated drivers.  Amazingly, she didn’t just survive, she liked it! And through her connection with those teens, she found her calling.      

After receiving her teaching credentials in 1994, Charlene began teaching English and journalism at North Shore Middle School in Galena Park ISD. In 2000, she moved to the 9th grade campus, where she currently teaches English and serves as team leader and department chair. Those descriptions barely scratch the surface of the contributions she makes on her campus. Her principal said that if you ask her to help with a time-consuming school initiative, she will eagerly and enthusiastically respond and accomplish every detail accurately. Her nominators commented on her positive nature in every aspect of her job.

In addition to teaching and tutoring students, Charlene mentors or facilitates mentoring of fellow teachers, including a plan where, during their conference periods, teachers observe and assist other teachers. Charlene is the lead for Team Alpha, an interdisciplinary group of about 180 students. In this capacity, Charlene schedules team parent meetings, conducts conferences with struggling students, and leads the team of teachers and students in extracurricular campus events.

Every year, Charlene hosts former students in panel discussions, conducts district-wide professional development, presents at national conferences, and coordinates the Scholastic Writing Competition for the district. Outside of the school day, she organizes the twice-yearly fireworks stand band fund-raiser and announces at the home football games.

Her most recent endeavor is a cross-curricular project, Encounters, co-taught with the biology teacher. In this program, Gifted and Talented students work on a year-long research project, culminating in a presentation to the community called “Challenge of the Mind.” The theme for this year was “Containment.”  After a successful first year, Charlene has already begun plans for continuation of this endeavor.

Charlene’s talents are not lost on her co-workers. She has twice been honored as her school’s teacher of the year and,

in 2013, she was named GPISD’s Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Sabato (Tino) D'Agostino, 2012

Sabato (Tino) D’Agostino is Director and Conductor of Orchestras and Bands at Arlington High School in Arlington, MA.  Larry Greco, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member who introduced Tino, “set the stage” for recognizing him. “It’s the beginning of the day at Arlington High School.  Students file into the music room.  They engage in relaxed social conversation, find their place amongst the array or chairs and set up their music.  They take out their instruments and begin warming up.  The air is filled with a collage of sound, disjointed yet sweet as the chatter of awaking birds in the pre-dawn hour.  The conductor finds his way to the front of the assembled, bass guitar in hand and his charges become silent, attentive, anticipating much in the same way that life holds its collective breath as it awaits the arrival of morn.  And as quickly as the dawning sun begins to bring light, warmth and order to the eager landscape below, the instructor graciously greets his students, tells them what they will be doing for the class and the music begins to fill the air.  The conductor implores these beautiful sounds from the young musicians, drawing upon their divinely granted graces with the same reverence that the sun calls forth life from a seed.  The band rehearsal has begun in Tino D’Agostino’s class.”

Tino is the highly successful and much beloved director of the Arlington High School Concert Band, Jazz Band, Symphony Orchestra and Honors String Orchestra as well as the Ottoson Middle School Chamber Orchestra.  His

legendary reputation is not only a result of his and his students’ musical accomplishments, but also because as his colleague, Performing Arts teacher,

Mike Byrne states, “He has the ability to change a young person’s life.  He is admired as a teacher and an artist as few I have seen, and the respect that Tino’s students have for him borders on reverence.” Visiting his classroom makes it clearly evident from whence this adulation comes.  Tino displays a profound respect for his young musicians. It is evident in his polite manner, in his sincere enthusiastic praise, in his encouraging inspiration and in his warm appreciation of their efforts. 

This extremely humble and gracious man will tell you that his greatest joy comes from witnessing the joy of the smiles of satisfaction of his students after a performance.  It is quite clear that he considers it to be an honor to be entrusted with the developing talent of his charges and to direct them in their accomplishments.

And those accomplishments are many. Amongst them are:

His string ensembles have been selected to perform at the

All-State Music Educators Conventions several times; his Jazz Band has twice been invited to perform at the Berkley College of Music’s High School Jazz Festival, placing second in their division this past March; and the Jazz Band was awarded both the Gold Medal and Overall Grand Championship Award on the 2004 Bahamas Cruise Festival. In addition, Tino has led both the string ensembles and the jazz bands on several international tours that brought them to Canada, Italy, Greece, Hungary, and Switzerland.  Also, the Jazz Band has been invited to perform for the Dante

Alighieri Society, the annual Town Day celebrations, the annual Kidney Transplant Association Concerts, and for the Italian Consul General of Boston at the Massachusetts State House.

Tino was born and raised in Salerno, Italy.  He began playing drums at the age of five, studied piano as well as many other instruments and eventually became a classical trumpet play.  His primary instrument these days is the bass guitar, which allows him to express his love of jazz.  He is a member of the jazz combo, Spajazzy.  Tino is educated in the Italian conservatory style and holds a degree from Berkley School of Music as well as two advanced degrees from Cambridge College.  He began teaching in his family’s private music school when he was seventeen and taught in various private and public schools in Italy.  In 1994, he was named the best bass player at the Umbria Jazz Festival and in doing so won a full scholarship to Berkley where he won the Bass Department Chair Award.  He taught two years in Mansfield, Massachusetts before beginning in Arlington in 1999.  Tino’s other accomplishments include being an international guest lecturer and starting the Musica Vesuviana Summer Music Camp in Italy three years ago, which many of his Arlington students have attended.  Tino has authored multiple international music and music education articles and has participated solely and in collaboration with others on many recordings.

Tino is being recognized for the magic he creates with his students, melodic and otherwise. As Arlington Performing Arts Director, Pat Tassone shares, “Tino inspires loyalty, perseverance and most of all respect.  His students love and respect him because he treats them all as unique individuals”  One way that Tino manifests that individual interest is by taping all of his music practices and then after listening to the works, he reports back to each student his feedback on a continual basis. And that love and respect was no better demonstrated than at last year’s Bejazzled Concert where 54 former students came from all over the country to join Tino and the Arlington schools jazz bands for a magnificent evening of music and fundraising. 

Kari-Ann Daley, 2016

Kari-Ann Daley teaches Advanced Placement Psychology at Natick High School in MA. She had previously taught

history for nine years when she received a telephone call two weeks before school started, asking if she would consider teaching AP Psychology.  Kari-Ann agreed to accept the

 new position, despite that fact that she had studied history, not psychology.  Changing courses so close to the start of school takes confidence and nerves of steel.  And it takes a few more special components:  the knowledge that you can learn information yourself at a quick rate of speed and understand it well enough to pass it along to others, and a strong sense

of humor.


Confidence, inquiry, and a sense of humor are traits that Kari-Ann clearly exhibits.  Beth Altchek, a Goldin Foun-dation Advisory Board member who visited Kari-Ann at Natick High School, notes, "Within minutes of meeting her, Kari-Ann was laughing.  She has that warm laugh that makes you feel like laughing along with her.  When her students entered the class, she laughed along with them as well. She clearly knew them and there was an excellent rapport with them."


Kari-Ann explained that at the beginning of her steep learning curve about psychology, she was learning the vocabulary of parts of the brain and often had to go to her colleagues in Biology to ask how to pronounce them, or to get clarity on the science behind the psychology.  She is now very current on recent brain based research, and so are her students.


Kari-Ann’s journey with AP Psychology has been rewarding.  During her three years teaching the

class, enrollment has grown from 58 students, to 88, to this year’s enrollment of 111 students.  94% of her students score a 3 or better on the AP Exam, and the average score is slightly above a 4. Thirty-eight students received a 5 last year.  Her AP Psych course is now the most popular and

successful Advanced Placement course at Natick High School.  30% of high school seniors take her course, and her colleagues say that the popularity of AP Psych has every-thing to do with the teacher.  When asked about this, Kari-Ann modestly responded that she thought the laid back attitude of the course was the reason so many kids took it.  But that would not explain the high scores students post on their AP exams. There is clearly some magic in the teaching that happens there, exciting students to learn.  


Kari-Ann Daley also mentors new teachers at the high school.  One new teacher credits her with helping her learn how to navigate the ins and outs of the high school culture at Natick, and that Kari-Ann’s sense of humor, knowledge and guidance has been extraordinarily helpful in her first year of teaching.  Another teacher says that her door is always open for help or just a chat, and that her mentoring goes well beyond the first year of teaching. All her colleagues speak about her willingness to go above and beyond what is expected in all situations, whether it is in the classroom or with a teacher she is mentoring.

Patrick Daly & Allison Renna, 2005

Patrick Daly and Allison Renna are former English Teachers at Waltham High School in Waltham, MA. They have developed a unique, creative, and seemingly simple method

to help students learn to write. Their method uses a color criteria system that relates colors to the basic elements of student writing. Students use one color to shade the thesis/topic/focus element of their composition, while using other colors for each of the following composition elements: transitional phrases, commentary/analysis, and supporting details. The color-shading emphasis enables both the student and teacher to immediately visualize the main elements in their composition. After seeing a few of these colorful compositions, students are better able to organize future compositions. The right brain is called on to support the left brain. This color criteria system has been credited by the Waltham school administration with the steady increase English Language Arts MCAS scores to the “Proficient” and “Advanced” levels in both grades 7 and 10.

These concrete steps to improve writing have enabled students in Waltham to write with greater confidence and success. The impact was so significant that their color criteria system was adopted school-wide as an instructional approach for all Waltham High students from English Language Learners to special education to honors level students. They have even met with the English Language Learners on Saturdays. Their system has recently filtered down to grades 6, 5, and 4. The system works particularly well for under-performing students.

To quote one of the nominators, “Each member of this team brings to teaching a strong understanding and enthusiasm for the subject, and a commitment to engaging students in their own learning and reflection.” Another nominator noted that the color criteria system helped students become “critical thinkers.”

Patrick Daly is currently the Director of Academic Services in North Reading, Massachusetts where his responsibilities include Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology.  Previously he taught English, Media Production, and Screenwriting for ten years at  Waltham,  Burlington, and Easthampton high schools.  He earned Bachelors degrees from the University of Massachusetts in English and Communication and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College.  He has also earned Masters degrees in Educational Leadership and Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology from Framingham State University.  He is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University where he is currently working on his dissertation on “the essence of innovation”. 

The impact of their innovation reaches out beyond Waltham. Patrick and Allison have disseminated their work with the color criteria system to other teachers at statewide conferences. One of their nominators described Allison and Patrick as, “… emblematic of those unrecognized teachers who deserve not only an acknowledgement for the important work that they do, but our trust, our support, and our thanks.”

Allison and Patrick  are recognized for what they have done to improve student learning in Waltham, and their energy

and creativity are applauded.

William Davis, 1996

William Davis is a Social Studies Teacher and Department Chairperson at Dover-Sherborn High School. According to his nominators, Bill Davis is a "master teacher" and "teacher's teacher." He exemplifies life long learning for both his students and staff. Having a reputation for being on the cutting edge of curriculum and instructional change, he is always focused on self improvement and shares his ideas and skills.

Bill's classroom is a center of constructive energy. Lorraine Witzburg, Foreign Language Chair, comments, "On many days, students appear in my French class talking about the personality test or the dream activity that had been the focus of their last class. On other days, World History students can be seen in the halls assuming the identity of Renaissance rulers, ready to defend their claim to fame as the most outstanding monarch of all time. What might appear through Bill's classroom door as a snack break turns out to be the recreation of an 18th century coffee house where students take the positions of an entire spectrum of Enlightenment thinkers, and argue their views as if they were in 18th century Paris as opposed to 20th century Dover.

As a teacher's teacher, Bill serves as a catalyst for experimenting and innovating, and he generously provides support for developing teaching techniques not only to his colleagues in the Social Studies Department, but to other members of the faculty as well. One example speaks to the Reform Agenda, which addresses critical and creative thinking, having the teacher as facilitator rather than lecturer, and engaging students in working cooperatively. Bill provided contexts and strategies for students to become involved in cooperative learning years before the value of such approaches gained wide spread recognition. A recent visit to his class at Dover-Sherborn High School demonstrated a challenging activity involving "learning partners," pairs of students synthesizing and analyzing information from the textbook and handouts, with the goal of constructing a vision and paradigm of the best economic system for a democratic nation like the U.S. Students had to present and defend their ideal system answering questions such as: what are the ideal goals and the most effective ways to achieve them; what incentives do you give people to work hard and produce good products and services; how do you take care of the health of your people, the elderly, the protection of the workers?

What role should government play in your system?

Bill has served on numerous committee over the years and is currently one of the professionals leading the staff in a complete reorganization of the High School curriculum and program of studies.

Bill has an appreciation of students' abilities and a

recognition of their problems, seeking to help them reach their academic potentials without ever losing sight of them as individuals. An excellent role model, he teaches by attitude and action as well as by word. In conclusion, Bill Davis is an educator who leads with soul and spirit.

Richard DeSorgher
, 2000

“Student centered learning, discovery, innovation, involvement of school and community, leadership;" these attributes are praised and reiterated by all of Richard DeSorgher’s nominators.

Richard, a Social Studies teacher and involved citizen of Medfield, makes history come alive for his students and the community in which he lives. His nickname is “The Pied Piper,” as it has been a common sight to see this beloved teacher surrounded by one or more of his classes as they tour the many spots in town of historical significance. Richard, known also as the town historian, wrote “The History of Medfield,” a rich chronicle of the development of the town, and he has worked hard to maintain  of the oldest surviving houses in the U.S. as well a develop a series of War Memorials for Medfield citizens who have served their country.

His legacy from his middle school teaching days continues: as part of the Social Studies curriculum, students participate in an archeological dig at Wight Farm, digging up artifacts and attempting to date their age.  Other learning adventures include a student bike tour of historic sites followed by a canoe trip along the upper Charles River.  This interdisciplinary unit has students painting along the banks of the river and studying water and geography in science and social studies.

To note just a few of his innovations at the high school where he now serves as Content Specialist:

•Richard helped start a Homeroom Advisory  Program which established closer ties between homeroom teachers and individual students and included teacher training, lesson plans and activities for each grade level.

•As part of a political science course, he encouraged students to participate in a community service activity of their choice, with opportunity to reflect on their projects  •The mock town meeting unit that he created consists of students attending an evening session,  learning rules of procedure, and studying current issues culminating in an a debate of several of the warrant articles .

•He has led the charge for reviewing nd enhancing Social Studies curriculum to meet the MA State Frameworks, chairing study groups for teachers.

Richard also pushes the envelope towards the future. He was the first person in the TEC collaborative to teach a Virtual High School course where students from school districts all over the U.S. take classes with him over the Internet.  This year he was awarded a Lighthouse Grant titled “Virtual Visits, a program where students are using Videoconferencing technology.

In addition to all of these accomplishments, Richard is known by his colleagues and friends as a kind, humble, and thoughtful man whose many contributions to the schools and community make Medfield a special place to live and learn.

Louis Dittami, 2003

Louis Dittami is “the kind of teacher who teaches life long lessons, who changes lives, and makes the world a better place,” say his nominators.  A veteran teacher of thirty-five years in the Dover-Sherborn, Ma school system, Lou has been teaching science, coordinating an Outreach Program that combines altruism and service, and setting an example of a active citizenship inside and outside of school.

Lou has taught all areas of science at all levels from A.P. to basic courses.  He is especially effective with students of lesser abilities and interests.  One course of note that he co-developed is “Science and Technology,” which incorporates the basic principles of science and integrates them into a hands-on approach with the industrial arts department. In this course, students are introduced to a physical theory, which is then followed by one or more laboratory explorations.  Students initiate research, design and build solutions, and test their hypotheses in the school shop. “Lou’s extensive knowledge of science combined with excellent methodology foster success, self-esteem, and cooperative skills in our diversified student population.  Since the inception of this popular curricular program, the enrollment and number of classes has increased to oversubscription,” says Leroy Clark, co-teacher.

The Outreach Program began ten years ago as a suggestion to students of serving meals at shelter in Boston. With his inspiration and leadership and participation, the students moved beyond the concept stage to a fully developed student organized program that not only serves dinners at several shelters but organizes food collection and serves breakfast every Friday morning at the Pine Street Inn.  Joanne Preiser, teacher, notes, ”Yes, the students get the crew and goes to the local supermarket every other Thursday night to get food for the breakfast; but it is Lou who gets up at 3:30 A.M. every other Friday to come to school to drive the van so the kids can get to Pine Street by 6:00 and back to school by 7:45.  It is also Lou who suggested the idea of picking up breads and pastries at local grocery sores; he has been doing the same thing for years on his own, and it is Lou who made special D-S Breakfast Club hats made for all the kids who participate.” These programs have contributed to the establishment of student volunteerism as part of the Dover-Sherborn curriculum with each student having to complete forty hours of service in order to graduate.

 Headmaster Denise Lonergan says “Louis is the consummate philanthropist, giving of his time and quite literally, of himself.  In addition to working with students, he also works with adults to travel to homeless shelters to serve meals and distribute clothing and other necessities.  He donates platelets and has been recognized by Dana Farber Cancer Center for contributing more than 350 times.  If a staff person is in need, Lou ferrets out this information and in his quiet unassuming way, provides assistance and support.” Lou  has served as advisor to the Student Council and Director of Student activities.  He will use his free time to identify students who are having difficulty “finding their niche,” and encouraging them to feel like they belong, often becoming part of cross country, a team he coaches.

Lou has helped others understand the benefits they receive from doing things unselfishly for others.  He is a model of a good citizen, an activist, and inspirer of others.

Gail Duffy, 2006

Gail Duffy is an English Teacher at Medfield High School in Medfield MA, and  she serves as  Medfield’s English Content Specialist for grades 6-12.  During Gail’s six years in Medfield, she has worked tirelessly supervising and managing the English department, grades 6-12, developing the English department budget, observing and evaluating each of  the 20+ English teachers, developing and revising curricula, hiring and mentoring new teachers, and teaching high school courses, to name just a few of her roles and responsibilities. In addition to her roles in Medfield, Gail also serves as an adjunct professor at Dean College. In her professional career she has been a high school English teacher, a college professor, and an administrator. Gail is being honored not for the amount of tasks that she accomplishes for Medfield, but for the way that she so brilliantly and conscientiously executes her position as English content specialist.

Gail’s daughter Erin shared that her mother experienced a dynamic childhood growing up as the daughter of a Marine Corps Colonel. Gail began school in Japan and graduated from high school in Panama, experiencing many moves in between. There is no doubt that Gail’s life experiences have shaped her lifelong love for learning. She is an educator through and through, one with an uncanny ability to reach and encourage students of all levels and colleagues of all backgrounds.

Gail is a leader who is first and foremost a teacher. She puts the needs of teachers and students first in every task she approaches. Whether she is leading a team of sixth through twelfth grade teachers to develop common assessments and scoring criteria for writing or putting her sense of humor to good use while coming up with ideas for the high school’s Fun Committee, Gail is always thinking of ways to make the most of people’s time and energy, and to revitalize each person’s spirit whenever possible.  It’s known that she has been a “bag thief” when necessary, hiding an overworked teacher’s school bag from them so that they would have to have a night or weekend off from grading and planning.  One of Gail’s nominators wrote, “Gail knows what I’m teaching every month and what my plans are on the weekends.” She has impacted the professional lives of her colleagues and has found a place in their hearts as well.

Gail’s nominators express gratitude and adoration for her. “She goes out of her way to support the teachers on her staff. She sits in on all parent conferences for teachers in their first three years of teaching and takes time after those meetings to commend teachers for what they did well and recommend ways to improve communication with parents. Gail stands by each new teacher she hires. If someone is having difficulty handling the strains of the teaching profession, she puts no limit to the time she will spend listening to their concerns, helping to plan lessons, or pairing them up with fellow teachers who have strengths worth learning.”

In her classes, Gail engages her students and encourages them to think deeply and creatively. Whatever the level of the students she teaches, students are spurred on to achieve due to Gail’s high expectations for them and her overall scholarly essence. Gail states that she strives to teach traditional literature untraditionally. Due to the fact that presenting engaging lessons to students is  such a priority for the department, Gail keeps an Ideas Binder of lesson plans so the whole department can benefit from each other’s knowledge and creativity.

Gail Duffy’s invigorating nature, excellent leadership, and high standards for education have caused a ripple effect of excellence throughout the English department at Medfield High School.

Janet Fillion, 2011

Janet Fillion, Latin Teacher at Boston Latin Academy in Boston, MA has served for  more than thirty five years as a teacher at Boston Latin Academy in Boston, MA.  She has demonstrated passion, commitment and dedication to both her students and her profession both in and beyond the classroom.  Her colleagues state that “Janet is an exemplary teacher and colleague!  She is an inspiration to all of us – teachers, students, and administrators alike.”

Janet’s responsibilities at Boston Latin Academy include three 8th grade Latin 1 classes and two 10th grade Latin 3 honors classes.  It is through her teaching of the Classics that she prepares students to be future citizens and leaders in our society. In the words of one colleague, “She makes Latin come alive by incorporating aspects of Roman daily life, history, culture and mythology into her teaching.”

Janet assumes many roles beyond her teaching responsibilities. Her goal is to better serve students by involving them in extra-curricular activities. She organizes student participation in the Latin National Honor Society. She serves as advisor for the Boston Latin Academy’s Classic Club, which now has 100+ members. She coordinates and chaperones the annual Classic Club trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where BLA teachers and former students serve as docents. 

Janet is the coordinator of the School’s Peer Tutoring Program, which provides help to students who need it and at the same time allows proficient students to share their learning with others and experience the rewards of teaching. She matches the students, and she enlists the help of parents to oversee the tutorial sessions.

Janet is state co-chair of the Junior Classical League, an organization that promotes the study of Latin via various activities and conventions that provide opportunities for students to compete in academic tests, track and field races/events, Certamen ((Latin/Classical Jeopardy), creative arts competitions, and more. Students have fun and become “hooked” to Latin and the Classics.

Janet is the driving force behind two additional programs. Tea with the Professor is organized by students who invite an area university professor to give a lecture on a classical theme.  There is a question and answer time following the presentation and an informal reception for students and faculty to mingle. The Prison Book Program has students partnering with WGBH to donate and package books for prisoners with the hope they will better themselves while incarcerated,

Kenneth Fisher, 2013

Ken Fisher is the Criminal Justice teacher at North Shore Senior High School in Galena Park High School in Galena Park, TX.

He is personally responsible for creating two innovative programs that have had a tremendous positive impact with students at North Shore High School. Attorneys in the Making (A. I. M.) is a student organization that targets those who have an interest in becoming a lawyer. The group receives hands-on experiences in an actual courtroom while using active cases.  Students also practice in Judge Parrot’s court and are currently preparing for their first Mock Trial contest. One member, Jassidy Silva, stated the program has “put fuel to my fire to become an attorney and it has helped me become a better person, leader, and team player.”

Mr. Fisher also started the Student Eyes and Ears (S. E. E.)  program.  The purpose of the organization is to assist school administration with day to day operations of protecting the campus and its students against unforeseen perils.  It gives students the opportunity to gain real application experience in law enforcement. 

The staff that nominated Mr. Fisher describes him as a “difference-maker, teaching student leadership, responsibility, self-respect, self-esteem, and communication skills.” In short, he prepares students for the challenges they face once they leave high school. He goes above and beyond everyday to help inspire the future leaders of tomorrow.

Melissa Ann Frazier, 2010

Melissa Frazier is lead  teacher at Barbers Hill Secondary Schools’ District Alternative Educational Program (DAEP) at its EPIC School in Mont Belvieu, Texas.

 “What seemed to be punishment for making a bad decision turned out to be a life-changing experience.”  Not many students could describe their assigned time at the DAEP the way this young man did.  For most students, the sound of punishment does not inspire hope nor the promise of a life-changing experience.  In many districts, it’s little more than a babysitting service for kids who are “putting in their time” until they can get back to the real world of school.  For students at Barbers Hill, though, there is hope.  There is hope because it is there where this student, and others like him, have found a positive place where students can learn “to soar like an eagle” because of one “passionate, dedicated, and caring” teacher – Melissa Frazier.

Melissa Frazier steps up to educate the students who come through her door.   Education for the students at that time is not the highest priority, but it is a high priority for Mrs. Frazier.  It’s not just academics when it comes to her success:  Melissa’s motto of:  “I care too much for you not to succeed,” exemplifies the vision of the district’s alternative educational program as she provides an environment where students will recognize they have the ability to learn, to have values, and believe that they have worth. 

Students attend the alternative program for many reasons –from drug and alcohol violations to pending felony charges.  Many have had difficulties throughout their academic careers and in their personal lives.  Students often come to DAEP with much baggage and little drive to be successful.  Mrs. Frazier has made it her personal mission to see that she makes a difference one life at a time.

Unbeknownst to the students, they have been given a gift of opportunity when they enter her classroom.  Melissa works diligently to forge a relationship in which she gains the student’s trust.  Their self-worth and self-confidence go through a metamorphosis.  She nurtures “moments of success” and reminds students of those successful moments in the inevitable times when they slip back into old habits that originally caused them to fail.  For Mrs. Frazier, “Failure is not an option.”  She helps students find their own path of success.

Former students took part in the nomination process..  One student described her as, “a teacher, a friend, and a role model.” . . . “She didn’t treat the students in DAEP like delinquents or act like she was better than us; she talked to us and helped us through many problems.  She helped me create new personal goals and reach them.”   Another student said that, “Mrs. Frazier is everything a teacher should be and more.” He also said that she called his parents to check him on Friday nights and he remembered thinking to himself, “Wow, this lady really does care about me and wants to make sure I succeed.”  He said of his experience, “I’m one that believes that things happen for a reason and when I look back to my time spent with Mrs. Frazier, I think of how thankful I am to have had a teacher so caring and positive when I was going thru a hard time.  I feel I am a better person from the time spent with Mrs. Frazier.  I’ve learned a new meaning of respect and what it means to excel and the rewards it can bring.  I told myself that I would never step foot in front of the DAEP doors once I got out of there, yet for some reason I found myself visiting Mrs. Frazier at least twice within a months’ time.  I would like to thank Mrs. Frazier for making a lasting impression upon my life.”

Mrs. Frazier is the kid of teacher that truly touches lives.

Jason Friend, 2016

Jason Friend has been an English Teacher at Saratoga High School in the Los Gatos-Saratoga Unified High School District in CA for 13 years. He has been acknowledged by his colleagues as a bed-rock of Saratoga’s innovative Media Arts Program, an interdisciplinary learning academy with an innovative, student-driven, media-based curriculum. Jason has collaborated with colleagues to align the history and literature curriculum and develop engaging projects for the students.  Beyond his curricular leadership, he is also recognized by colleagues as a teacher who fosters close relationships with his students, giving them the confidence to succeed.

The list of Jason’s accomplishments is long:

  • He was the first coordinator of the Media Arts Program.

  • He co-created the sophomore level of the program, aligning English and World History, and developing exciting new projects for the students, including “The Taliban News Conference” and the “Be the Change” documentary.

  • He co-created the senior level curriculum for the program, including the senior capstone project, which is celebrated at an annual, end-of-year Oscars-like award ceremony.

  • He teaches a combined senior English and AP Language and Composition course, differentiating for students every day.

  • He has served as department chair, and currently serves on the Staff Collaboration Committee, working on efforts to alleviate student stress.

Yet, most impressive is not what Jason has done, but how. As his colleague Matt Torrens said, “Jason has students believing they can excel higher with their strengths and thinking they can overcome their weaknesses.” His colleague Natasha Ritchie described Jason as “the rock of our English department…always grounded and patient.” According to Natasha, Jason “provides his students the perfect amount of rigor so that they feel challenged but are also successful.” Jason’s peer and team-teacher Michael Davey describes how Jason encourages students to “buy into their educational process rather than just ‘do school.’” And it’s all apparent there in his classroom, where students discuss the possibilities for their projects. They’re comfortable. Engaged. Excited.

Jason has been a curricular leader within his department and his school. He envisioned a space on campus, a space where students of all ability levels could come together to work on real-world projects, led by their own inquiry and interests…a place where they could be a part of something bigger. Jason, working with his colleagues at Saratoga, used imagination and innovation to pave the way for an idea to become a course pathway, and a course pathway to become a program, and a program to become an academy.

Daniel Frio, 1992 

Daniel Frio is a full-time Social Studies Teacher at Wayland High School. He serves as Advisor to the "Wayland Helping Youth" Club, a service organization within the school which interfaces with the Wayland community as well as other agencies outside of Wayland. He has been a leader and active participant in all of the school's efforts to support the METCO program. Mr. Frio also serves on the "Intervention Team," a group of teachers who address the issues of substance abuse within the school.

Dan is recognized for the development and implementation of the Race Relations Class and Students United for Racial Equality (SURE), which started in 1990-91. Co-facilitated by Manual Fernandez, the group provides opportunities for students to speak openly about all forms of bias, prejudice, and hate in the school, community and larger society. Students are challenged to look at their own views and values and encouraged to speak openly about troubling situations they experience or witness. Racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and prejudice are topics faced by these students and discussed in a seminar setting. Students are encouraged to interrupt acts of prejudice wherever possible, to express their values directly, and they are given training to strengthen their skills and confidence in this area. One of Dan's students reflects "When I first went to Race Relations, I was looking for ten easy steps to solve prejudice. However, by learning about different people, I now have a better understanding of people's actions."

Ron Garcia, 2007

Ron Garcia is a Photography and Media Productions Teacher at Prospect High School in the Campbell Union High School District, San Jose, CA.  “Ron is a cornerstone of Prospect High School.”  His nominators comment, “His service to the students and school community has been exemplary.  In thirty-five years, he has touched many lives by giving students artistic values and skills and also a belief in the imagination, the desire to give life to ideas, and the ability to articulate a sense of self.”

Ron has been teaching Photography 1 and 2 since 1971, and he has been the Industrial Technology Department Chair since 1978.   He supports his program in Media Productions with various video projects, such as: a video yearbook for seniors, specialty photography for students and athletes, artistic videos to celebrate events, training videos for campus emergency preparation, and public relations materials for the school.

Ron is always looking for a creative and innovative approach to improve communication within the school community..  He developed the Media Productions class in 1996, which produces a daily a morning video bulletin.   This Video Bulletin offers students the opportunity to have the news of the school, campus events, and achievements of students presented to the student body in a form similar to a TV news program or a TV commercial.  Ron capitalizes on his students’ various talents, some being the “techies” who put the program together on video, while others serve as actors. His principal Rita Matthews comments,” More than any other single program or activity, the Video Bulletin serves to knit the campus together as a community.”

Ron’s programs inspire students and not only the very talented.  There are no restrictions as to who can participate in his classes.  In fact, there is great appeal to students that for one reason or another are disenfranchised in the academic arena.  His students respect the learning environment that Ron creates.  In his soft manner, Ron teaches self-discipline, intrinsic motivation, and the desire to create, imagine, and believe.

Many of Ron’s students have won awards in photography; others have gone on to become noted in the world of movies and other media productions.  He himself has been recognized for excellence: by the Professional Photographers of America, Professional Photographers of Santa Clara Valley ,as Mentor Teacher, and Prospect High Teacher of the year for four years.  He evidences leadership in the broader community by working with the Red Cross, as a Ham Operator of communitywide emergency preparedness, the Boy Scouts, and his church.

“Ron’s integrity, positive outlook, knowledge, and professionalism demonstrate his commitment to education,” states James O’Malley, Counselor. He is most deserving of the award for Excellence in Education.

Karen Girondel, 2002

Karen Girondel is a gifted teacher, a master teacher, a passionate teacher, a valued teacher, according to her nominators. A French teacher in the Lexington Public schools for 29 years, her positive attitude, cooperation, and love of languages are reflected in the outstanding instruction she has maintained and in her continuous dedication to extracurricular activities. She is a person who not only teaches all students to reach for the best, achieve at the upper level of their abilities and strive to be the best that they can be, but also goes the extra measure with every student, parent, and colleague with whom she comes in contact.

Dr. Michael Fiveash notes, "Karen possesses extraordinary vitality and energy, a radiant love for her subject, both the language and literature of France as well as the larger culture of the Francophone world, a formidable knowledge of that subject, and a classroom manner which is at once challenging stimulating, and nurturing. She employs every kind of medium for language instruction: full immersion in the language (she cheerfully threatens her students with becoming viande morte ‘dead meat’; French music from the Renaissance to rap; video for the study of French cinema, the scripts often laboriously and painstakingly transcribed by herself; and the Internet which she has incorporated seamlessly into her instruction."

Karen promotes students’ independence as language learners. The French Culture Bee that she coordinated with her colleagues is a fun challenge for students while it serves as an innovative assessment tool that gives students an alternative medium to demonstrate their knowledge of French language and culture. This model, which was used in three classes at Lexington High, could well serve other foreign language teachers in MA. 

Karen’s activities go way beyond the classroom. She is the French Club Advisor, which celebrates French culture and language and gives students opportunity to learn about the French global community. She serves as the French Exchange Hosting Coordinator, arranging the many activities involved with student exchanges, for both French students coming to Lexington and then Lexington students going to France. They have just returned from an exciting trip to France. Karen is a key and long time participant in the Student/Faculty Senate, an organization that meets weekly and as powers to take significant actions. A recent bill did away with the grade distribution in back of the report cards; condoms with literature are now available through the nurse’s and counselors’ offices, and a Clean Rubbish-Up Day involves students and stag joining together once a year to clean the school’s grounds.

This inspirational teacher is at the top of everyone’s "must see list" when Lexington alumni return from college. The day that I visited there was a former student, now a foreign language teacher from New York, observing her and taking notes about her teaching methodologies. One of the teachers in her department, Caitlin Smith, comments that during one of her return visits, Karen encouraged her to teach the "language we love."

It is clear that Karen’s students and Lexington High have profited immensely by the work she does so well and by the person she is.

Sharon Greenholt, 2015

Sharon Greenholt is a Guidance Counselor at Natick High School, Natick Public Schools, MA. Her job is to guide others, which literally means to show people the way. That sounds easy enough. However, what guidance counselors in this modern age do are support students as they navigate paths that are filled with potential quagmires, missteps, confusion and fear. And that’s just when guidance counselors are helping students decide where to apply to college. Sharon notes that high school students have to make some of the most difficult choices they will make in their lives: what colleges to apply to, or even trickier, whether college makes sense for them at all at this point in their lives.  Earning the trust of a high school student is often not easy.  But somehow, Sharon Greenholt manages to do just that.  

Not only do students like and trust her; her colleagues also speak highly of her.  They credit her with many of the leadership initiatives found at Natick High, such as the LINKS program, which buddies a new student with a peer mentor.  Sharon co-leads the Leadership Academy, and she established the school’s chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. She is also highly active in the school’s anti-bullying movement.  

Sharon Greenholt is dynamic.  This was demonstrated in her early morning seminar when she was breaking down the steps one needs to take when applying to college.  She was de-mystifying GPAs and having the students think hard about what admissions panels want to see in a way that was practical and manageable.  All the high school juniors were engaged and involved in the discussion, one that had direct impact on their futures.

Vice Principal of Natick High School, Zach Galvin, comments, “Sharon is so unique and special and so, so, so very excellent for our students and our families.  I have no idea how the stars aligned to bring this wonderful person and good friend into our lives at Natick High; but I am so glad the alignment was there.”

Sharon grew up in England and attended university there.  She moved to the US and lived in Florida, New York, and Canada before settling in Needham with her husband and daughter.  She worked in human resources before switching to education and becoming a guidance counselor.  Everyone who works with her feels very lucky that she made that decision. That includes both her adult colleagues and her high school students!

Apparently, Sharon is willing to say “yes” to things (like serving on yet another committee) much more often than she is willing to say “no.” The phrase “Expect Amazing” comes from people work with her.  

Joshua Hanna, 2013   

 Joshua Hanna is Teacher and Social Studies Department Head at Natick High School, MA. was recognized for “Excellence in Education.”  With passion, insight, and creativity, he motivates students and creates lessons that make material relevant to the students’ world and experience.  Two of his former students, who nominated him, summarize his impact on them.

Michael Russo states, “The reality of high school is that students label teachers.  Much of the time these labels can be false and misleading, because relations with teachers are personal.  In Joshua Hanna’s case, his title is never questioned.  He is simply ‘the man.’ Mr. Hanna created an environment where motivated students are challenged, yet no one gets left behind.  The environment is one where engaged students could bring new information to the table from the news or their own lives. Mr. Hanna challenged and discussed openly with these students, tying in material from the curriculum.  The students who were more reserved and just wanted to listen still were impacted heavily.  His thought-provoking statements and questions hit everyone in the class.” 

Senior Class Speaker Harsha Amaravedi notes, “We’ve learned skills that we can take everywhere. When I’m out in the world I know I will be able to derive a second degree polynomial and place my semi colons in between independent clauses.  But in all honesty, we have learned invaluable lessons.  Just sit in one class with Mr. Hanna and you feel enlightened.  I mean that guy knows the secrets to life."

Here are some highlights of Josh’s extraordinary contributions to his students and the greater school community.

He introduced Advancement Government to the curriculum.  Josh’s AP Government classes worked directly with the Town Clerk and the League of Women Voters to implement a Candidates Night at Natick High School. Students chose this action as a way of combating low voter turnout and encouraging people to take action locally.  The event was student-run from inviting candidates for all town-wide races, providing publicity, to creating and filming a four minute commercial called, ‘What’s Your Excuse for Not Voting.”  Students moderated the school committee and selectman panels, and they worked the polls at both spring and fall elections.

Josh uses Twitter in his classroom as a means for breaking boundaries between learning in the classroom and the outside world.  He brings current events into the classroom, engages his students through a tool they use daily, and inspires them to use Twitter in a positive and educational way.  He uses Tweets to begin classroom discussions, and posts videos, articles, current events and ideas that relate to what students study.  His Twitter professional development workshop demonstrated how teachers can use Twitter in the classroom to transition from a role of dispenser of information to a role as an advocate for a “culture of inquiry.”

Josh is a cheerleader for his colleagues.  As Social Studies Chair, he led the way for introducing seven new electives to both allow students to take courses in depth that truly interest them and encourage teachers to teach electives in line with their interests.  In 2014, new electives will introduced including Philosophy, Economics, Anthropology, and The Holocaust.

 He was instrumental in creating a new grade 9 Global Awareness course. The first semester deals with more traditional topics of a second year World History curriculum and second semester themes focus on topics such as Globalization, Human Rights, Technology, Environment & Energy, and International Economics.

Josh serves as an exemplary model for students as the varsity baseball coach.  Along with baseball skills, he emphasizes character, sportsmanship and teamwork.  He began a tradition of starting the season by taking the team on a Patriot’s Day pilgrimage to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY along with another local team.

Deborah Henry, 1993

Deb Henry serves as Director of the TEC Alternative High School, a regional high school providing challenging academic instruction, guidance, and individualized support to students from TEC communities and some non-TEC towns.

Ms. Henry is recognized for her consistent professionalism: establishing fair and compassionate limits for her students, supervising staff, and relating effectively with referring personnel. These elements are all necessary for contributing to TEC Alternative School students' personal and academic successes. Through her efforts, students who are experiencing turmoil in their academic school experiences because of external and external struggles, become responsible agents in the learning process. Ms. Henry counsels and creates programs for students with varying abilities by assisting each one personally in setting realistic and attainable goals.

Deb and her staff serve as wonderful role model, who demonstrate dignity, care, and empathy,. As a result, students have gained self-esteem; they have made contributions to their classes and schools; and they have developed critical thinking and problem solving skills necessary for life-long learning.

Marilyn Hilliard, 2005

Marilyn Hilliard, Mathematics teacher at Crosby High School in Crosby, Texas, notes,  “In my classroom, I first aim for mutual respect. I also believe it is important to maintain a sense of humor, to appreciate the intelligence of my students, to foster a sense of fairness, and to encourage reluctant learners. I love teaching, I love teaching teenagers, and I love hearing, ‘Oh, I get it!’”

“And, ‘get it’ they do!” said Deborah Frank, principal of Crosby High School. “Since Mrs. Hilliard began teaching Advanced Placement Calculus, we have had students score 5’s on the exams. The pass rate in Marilyn’s math classes is exceptional.”

 The theme that comes up again and again is Marilyn Hilliard’s dedication to the students at Crosby High School – not just the students she teaches, but ALL of the students. She is there for the kids before school, after school, in tutorials, at lunch, and during each class period throughout the school day. According to colleagues, Mrs. Hilliard arrives early each day to prepare for the challenges ahead and is always one of the last to leave at the end of the day, even on Friday afternoons! She devotes time to tutor not only her own students but also any other student needing help.

Her room is arranged so that tutoring is inviting to students who might be embarrassed about needing extra help. She has placed a student desk to the side of her desk so that she can work individually with a student for one-on-one tutoring. In addition to students, Marilyn also coaches teachers for EXCET testing and, after school and at night, teachers and college students seek her help in calculus.

Her students are successful because, according to Mary Ellen Connor, Math Department Chair, “Marilyn spends her time wisely in the classroom. She put together five different projects for our students this year based on the areas where scores are the weakest. The projects required measuring fingers, toes, and lengths of walls and constructing histograms and charts to combine groups of concepts enabling students to understand the math and the interrelationships of ideas.”

As noted by Rusty Powers, Crosby Secondary Math and Science Coordinator, “Our Advanced Placement scores in mathematics for the first time increased to include the elusive number of five. If Mrs. Hilliard was not directly responsible for the highest score we had yet attained, her presence in the department motivated her contemporaries to push their students to new heights.” This observation is underscored by Mrs. Conner who concluded her nomination of Marilyn Hilliard saying, “She has a clear-cut understanding of what needs to be done and she does it. She is definitely an asset to our teaching staff and to the math department. Without her we would falter.

Marilyn Hilliard was born and raised in Minnesota where she earned her undergraduate degree from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Her Master of Science was earned at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Marilyn has taught mathematics for 25 years, the first 2 years in Minnesota followed by 6 years at Sacred Heart School in Crosby, 13 years at Kingwood High School, and the last 4 years at Crosby High School. Mrs. Hilliard is the 2004 Crosby High School Teacher of the Year and has been nominated several times by her students to Teacher’s Who’s Who. She has been a resident of Crosby for 26 years and is active in the Sacred Heart Church community. Marilyn has been married for 32 years to Bob Hilliard and they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren.

Ann Jackson, 2006

Ann Jackson is a teacher at Crosby High School in Crosby, Texas.  A Mississippi native, she spent most of her life in south Louisiana before moving to Texas in 1989.  She received her B.S. degree in secondary education and her Master of Education degree in Supervision and Administration from Louisiana State University.  For the past 17 years she has taught English at Crosby High School and is presently the English Department Chair at Crosby High School.

Ann was instrumental in the initiative to begin an Advanced Placement program at Crosby ISD. Because of her commitment to high academic achievement, Crosby ISD presently has an outstanding model advanced placement program that is aligned from the 7-12th grade and is recognized by the Texas College Board as a model program. 

Ann has made a major contribution in instilling values, encouragement, and a high standard of excellence for academic achievement for all students.

Paul Johnson, 2013

Paul Johnson is the Commercial Photography, Career Preparation, and Project Lead the Way Teacher at Galena Park High School in Galena Park, TX.  He is the lead mentor for the Galena Park I.S.D. robotics program. He has created and manages an annual robotics summer camp for elementary and middle school students at the high school.  His dedication as the robotics sponsor has provided the Galena Park High School Robotics Team with a number one ranking in the world and has been in the top world rankings for several years! 

His greatest achievement is his promotion of students to post secondary education and encouraging them to apply for scholarships.  Over the past four years, his students have earned over $750,000 in scholarships to schools across the nation.  He specifically targets female participation which has led to a 50% increase in female students in his engineering classes and robotics program. He has also written many successful grants for the robotics program totaling almost $270,000. 

Paul continuously leads and encourages students to participate in community service.  Most recently he and the robotics team hosted the annual Santa’s Workshop, in which they donated and provided food and gifts to local area families who would otherwise not have them.  The team assembled over 100 bicycles which were donated and given to local area children. They sponsored 15 families in need, put together over 40 food boxes for the elderly, and worked with the Houston Food Bank in collaboration with their corporate sponsor GE Aero. 

 His administrators speak very highly of him, stating, “Mr. Johnson not only talks the talk, he walks the walk!” But his students have said it best; “Mr. Johnson has encouraged us to reach above and beyond in everything that we take part in.  Under his guidance, more and more of our team members have realized the importance in education and have been inspired to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Careers. He is not only a mentor, but a friend.  A teacher like Mr. Johnson is not often encountered --- or forgotten!”

Ray Jones, 2004

Ray Jones has been a Physics teacher at Del Mar High School in the Campbell Union High School District in Campbell, CA for nearly 30 years. He was nominated for the Goldin Foundation Award by his colleagues Nancy Pinkel, Fred Granger, and Jim Russell who quoted three big reasons for his nomination:  (1) His leadership in restructuring the Del Mar Science Department so that a broad group of students have greater access to high-level science classes, such as Physics and Chemistry;  (2) His role as a student advocate who opens his doors before school, lunch time, and after school, and clearly believes in the life-changing power of his daily contacts with students;  (3) His work as faculty advisor of the Del Mar Key Club, a student community service organization.

During an onsite visit, Jeanne-Marie Rachlin, Advisory Board member, saw clear evidence of all three of these statements within five minutes of entering his classroom! She had called Ray and arranged to interview him one day after school. She got to his classroom a few minutes before the bell rang at the end of the school day. As she peeked in the doorway, she saw students arranged in small teams around lab tables hurrying to turn in their physics lab on a lesson in optics. Inside the doorway, Mrs. Rachlin was introduced to another visitor with whom Mr. Jones was speaking. It turned out that the other visitor was a former student from 20 years ago who is now a veterinarian.  One of his students commented that Mr. Jones "interacts well with students and explains things real well." This student then proceeded to have a conversation with Ray regarding the Key Club and a school event they are sponsoring regarding seatbelt awareness.

Ray has an upbeat, respectful, positive way about him that immediately puts people at ease.  His family came to Los Gatos in 1956 when he was in 5th grade. He attended Daves Avenue, the Old University Avenue School, and graduated from Los Gatos High School. He served in the Coast Guard from 1967 - 71 after which he completed his degrees in biology and physics from San Jose State. He always knew he wanted to pursue work related to science, and had considered being a wildlife biologist. To help pay for college, he worked with kids at the San Jose Recreation Department. The sense of satisfaction he enjoyed helped him decide on teaching as a career.

Ray taught his first year at Blackford, then moved to Del Mar where he's been ever since. In his work with the Exploratorium Teacher Institute, Ray learned how to make science labs out of inexpensive everyday supplies. Through his role in a district mentor project, as well as Science Department Chair, he has conducted many district-wide clinics and exposed young science teachers to his hands-on, lab-based approach.

On a personal level, Ray is a family man who loves the outdoors, does backpacking and modest mountain climbing. He and his wife raised a son and daughter and are new grandparents of a baby granddaughter. On the topic of Ray's teaching, his wife says, if you give him a bottle cap and a piece of string, he'll create a physics lab.

Mary Lou Karahalis, 1996

Mary Lou Karahalis, a guidance counselor at Norwood High School, has been described by her colleagues as "dynamic, earnest, tireless, selfless, committed to young people, a true leader, and a true professional." As a guidance counselor for twenty-seven years, Miss Karahalis has served her students, staff, and community with energy, enthusiasm, and dedication. One of her nominators says that she "exhibits a first-rate mind, an enormous capacity for work, an innate sense of leadership, an unlimited dedication to her profession, an extraordinary sensitivity toward her students, and a willingness to give unstintingly of her talents." "Her students adore her and her colleagues and superiors hold her in the highest personal and professional esteem. Her concern for

her counselees extends beyond the ordinary work day: she has made herself available evenings, weekends, and during the summer months to reach out to students whose needs cannot be met otherwise. Presently she is helping a former special needs student who has moved to another school district as he struggles with the change."

Along with her demanding responsibilities as a guidance counselor, Mary Lou has been involved in many projects which have had a positive impact on others:

  1. In her first year as a guidance counselor, long before "School to Work" became a viable education program, she set up the first Work Experience Program at Norwood High School. She has continued to represent Norwood in its career awareness and exploration programs which are coordinated with The Education Cooperative (TEC).
  2. Ten years ago, Ms. Karahalis became the National Honor Society Advisor. During that time, she transformed a "somnolent organization into a vibrant one whose members play an active leadership role in the school community" through which students raise funds for charity, volunteer at area nursing homes and hospitals, and serve as peer tutors. She also plans, organizes, and emcees the annual Honors Banquet, which publicly celebrates the accomplishment of the top fifty students in grades 9-12.
  3. Ms. Karahalis' work with the Honor Society extends to the state level, where she organized four regional meetings and was appointed State Coordinator by the
    Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators Association.
  4. Last year when the Norwood Jaycees disbanded, Ms. Karahalis' initiative and leadership were demonstrated as she and another teacher found a replacement
    sponsor, and the T.O.N.Y. Program was kept alive.
  5. Since 1990, Ms. Karahalis has been a delegation leader and area coordinator for Norfolk and Suffolk counties for People to People, a private non-profit organization
    founded by President Eisenhower as a way to foster world peace, Through this organization, students travel to meet people from other countries.

"Ms. Karahalis has truly made a difference in the lives of her students. She brings energy and enthusiasm to all aspects of her profession; she gives selflessly to others; and she inconstantly strives to grow and develop as an educator."

Laura Kay, 2014

Laura Kay is a Latin Teacher at Walpole High School in MA. Latin is alive and well at Walpole High. Laura is a true classical scholar who weaves Latin with history, literature, and customs.  She took a vibrant Latin program and improved it to the point where Walpole High has one of the most successful programs in the state evidenced by the high scores in A.P. Latin class and in the National Exam.  She teaches five classes ranging from Introduction to the Latin Language to Advanced Placement Latin.

 Laura is the advisor to the school’s National Honor Society (NHS), working with and supervising approximately 40 students each year. Laura prepares and empowers students to make a difference in their lives and others.’  Students have consistently praised her high standards, dedication, support, positive attitude and compassion.  One student commented that, “Unlike some other high school faculty advisors, she knew when to let students contribute and influence decisions; she acted as an advisor, but let the students do the leading.”

One specific project of Walpole High’s NHS is the Peer to Peer Tutoring Lab, which meets Monday-Thursday after school throughout the whole year.  It is a chance for NHS students, who are trained by Laura, to help students in specific subjects.  In addition to the over 150 referrals from teachers, 85 students have referred themselves The tutors express that the lab experience is also beneficial for the NHS members because “we see that we are actually making a difference as we help our peers.”  And Laura states, “This is true community service; the students are able to demonstrate academic leadership and enable a cultural shift to focus on academics.” She believes that it is successful in that “students engage with their peers because they are closer to the learning.”

Laura also prepares, supports, and empowers other staff members. She has mentored two new teachers within the last two years and is always willing to have both new and experienced staff members observe in her classroom.  One of those whom Laura has mentored indicated, “I certainly put Laura through her paces as a mentor, but she never failed to impress me with the quality of her help.” A colleague emphasizes that, “Laura will take the time to listen to my comments or theories on the state of education and often helps me to work with pedagogical issues.  She is one of the finest teachers and I look forward to having her by my side through many more years of education reform.” Stephen Imbusch, her principal, describes her as “the kind of teacher that every principal wishes for in all their staff.”  

Laura comes from a family of educators; education is a major focus in her family and subsequently in Laura’s life from an early age.  She commented, “Education “shaped my life completely.”  Professionally and academically, Laura is an outstanding example for her colleagues.  She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin and Greek from Mount Holyoke College and then achieved a Master’s degree from Boston University. Additionally, Laura has completed all course work for a Ph. D. and passed comprehensive exams in both Latin and Ancient Greek Language and Literature at both the master’s and Ph. D. level. Prior to her work at Walpole High School, Laura was a Latin teacher at Boston College High School and Pembroke High School. Laura is also an active professional member of the Classical Association of New England, Classical Association of Massachusetts, and American Classical League. In addition to her professional and academic pursuits, Laura is committed to her family, and she is an avid marathon runner and a great baker.

As recognized in her nomination letters of endorsement by her peers and students, “Laura is an exceptional teacher, colleague, advisor, and friend to many at Walpole High School.  Beyond her commitment to student learning, what makes Laura stand out is her positive attitude and willingness to contribute generously her time and efforts to improve the culture of our school.”

Kathleen Kelly, 2016

Kathleen Kelly is an English Teacher at Canton High School in MA. She grew up in Hebron, Connecticut and earned her Master’s in English at Bridgewater State University.  She studied abroad her senior year in Cape Town, South Africa, and she began her teaching career in Canton Public Schools eight years ago.  Amid the sometimes backbreaking responsibilities of teaching and correcting for five English classes, Kelly launched what has become a must-take elective, American Identities.

The genesis for Kelly’s American Identities course sprang from a Wheelock College conference on diversity where Kelly, accompanied with Canton High School students, became apostles of the “define, discuss, do” conference philosophy.  This popular course begins by breaking down barriers of non-communication by creating safe forums for frank discussions about race, gender, sexuality, and religion.  Current events like the North Carolina anti-LGBT law and media trends like the portrayal of women become natural platforms for discussions as well.  Later in the course, students, under Kelly’s encouragement, and following their original “define, discuss, do” triad of purpose, create community service projects shaped by what they have learned in the class.

From giving speeches on culture to the high school to acting as “junior professors” in district-wide faculty professional development activities, Kelly and her students extend what they have learned far beyond classroom walls.  Jayne Moore, Interim Director of Curriculum and Instruction, after attending the student coordinated professional development seminar titled, “Race, Gender, Sexuality:  Talking About What We’re Afraid to Talk About,” notes, “ Their empowerment is profound; their empowerment is the impetus of our educators’ ability to question their own cultural awareness as they consider the perspectives of others--and find their own voices.”

In the fall of 2016, Kate Kelly’s “do” manta will expand to a new co-taught elective focusing on how media influences perception of our own identity as well as how we perceive others.  Together, with faculty member Tara Iacobucci, Kelly and four seniors will co-teach this new course.

Canton High School Principal Derek Folan shares that he feels Kelly is a “phenomenal educator, able to give students voice to different cultures, races, and identities and transform the cultural proficiency of our district.”

Kelly’s students echo her administrator and colleague praises.    A graduate of Canton High School and a graduate of Kate Kelly’s American Identities elective writes, “As I delve further into my Peace Studies major, I realize how relevant and important your class is.”  And Marquis, a junior, writes,” "I have the card you gave me at the end of the year in my mirror, I look at it every day, it keeps me going.”

Mary Keyes, 2016

Mary Keyes serves as Learning Center Teacher and Reading Specialist at the Boston Arts Academy  (BAA), a public high school for the visual and performing arts, in Boston, MA. Students gain admission to BAA through an audition, without regard to their previous academic record. One third of the BAA students have literacy challenges, including a growing population of students who speak English as a second language. Mary Keyes works with these students who have learning challenges, advocating tirelessly to assure their success.

Mary’s initiative, the Summer Reading Program, has been a transformative experience for BAA students. This five week intensive programs for students reading below grade level began in 2004. BAA Humanities Faculty member Sonya Brown reports, “Through Mary’s outstanding sensitivity to each student’s issues, students in this program feel a great sense of relief and empowerment as they gain confidence in their ability to overcome their reading challenges. They go from feeling shame, frustration and anger to feeling

successful and proud of their accomplishments. For some students, this is the first time they have experienced success in school, due in large part to Mary’s determination and perseverance.” One student wrote, “My fear of reading was like this monster in my life I had finally conquered. Through my new relationship with reading I understood a lot about myself.”

Dr. Linda Nathan, founding Headmaster of Boston Arts Academy celebrates Mary’s success in helping hundreds of BAA students as a Special Education teacher, but also her, “insistence that we all learn to become teachers of reading.”  Dr. Nathan goes on to describe the development of the Summer Reading Program and the infusion of reading that reaches all BAA students through their Seminar class. Mary brought consultant Dr. Isabel Phillips, the “Reading Doctor” to BAA and it, “literally turned us all upside down (in a good way). BAA runs one of the best Summer Reading Programs

in the country, as well as a reading program through our Seminar class from which all students benefit. Mary managed to literally transform all of us into reading teachers and establish a high quality program.”

Anne Clark, Headmaster at Boston Arts Academy credits Mary with bringing important professional development to

the school. “Mary has singlehandedly changed the way we understand literacy as a school. Mary’s vision that all

students can improve their reading and writing skills has provided the foundation and commitment to the develop-ment of all of our literacy structures. Beginning in 2003-2004, following Mary’s vision, BAA began implementing an intensive professional development program focused on best practices in special education, ELL, differentiated instruction, and adolescent literacy instruction.” With Dr. Isabel Phillips, Mary developed the Summer Reading Program which “serves both students who have significant literacy issues and teachers who want to learn how best to support struggling readers in their classrooms,... a truly transformative experience.” Teachers better understand their students’ challenges, resulting in more effective instruction in all content areas. Students’ summer success carries over to the school year.

Dr. Isabel Phillips, Educational Consultant in Reading, Language & Assessment, is unreserved in stating that, “Mary Keyes falls into the top 5% of educational professionals with whom I have ever had the privilege to work.” Dr. Phillips describes Mary as the “energetic architect” of the BAA Summer Reading Program. Despite having a shoestring budget and facing much red tape, Mary advocates for this program, “because she knows it is improving student lives, not just their reading scores.”

Mary Keys will present the model of a school-wide literacy program at the Annual Convention of the International Literacy Association in Boston in July 2016.

Michael Kozuch, 2012

Michael Kozuch is director, grant writer, community liaison, and chief advocate for the Model Global Communities Program at Newton South High School in Newton, MA.   A History and Social Studies teacher, he developed the three year sequence of studies just as the MA Frameworks were being rolled out.  With courage and conviction, he developed a course that changes the way students view their world.  The curriculum provides opportunity to learn the traditional curriculum in 10th and 11th grade, yet also focuses on global issues and active engagement.  Each class has students from 3 levels and involves History and English studies, soon to expand to science. Seniors have the opportunity to take globally focused electives and complete a project such as an international experience or local experience with global implications.  There is high student interest, resulting in a lottery for participation.  There is also a high retention rate with 80% of students staying in the course for all three years.

Some student comments:

I feel I have gained a lot of insight into how businesses are run and how hard it is to decide what is best for the world instead of for one separate place.

Both books come together and show us how America and Globalization affects everyone around us.  It can confuse people morally and ethically.

Now when I see the word GDP or when they discuss corporate outsourcing or the carbon cycle, I now know what they mean.

Curriculum development has been a major priority for Michael.  He helped to create the “Race, Class, and Gender” senior elective at Newton South. He has fostered connections with Project Zero at the Harvard School of Education.  He has conducted professional development workshops with Primary Source and The Education Cooperative.  Michael’s teaching career, as well has his personal life, have been marked by great efforts on behalf of the environment and human rights issues. 

Principal Joel Stembridge notes,” Michael’s vision, effort, and excellence have resulted in a way of educating students that defines who we are, and what we believe in.  For a place with an incredible tradition of academic excellence, this is a very big deal. It’s helping us turn South from a great school that’s good for most kids into an excellent school that is great for

all kids”

Tim Krieger, 2004

Tim Krieger, Biology teacher at Monta Vista High School in the Fremont Union High School District in Cupertino, CA,

has received awards for his teaching and coaching,

redesigned the AP biology curriculum, served as the science department chair, mentored new biology teachers, and team taught a leadership class during his prep period. Yet he has been a teacher at Monta Vista High for only 5 years.  He has managed to do all of this because he is smart, talented, and organized, plus he loves what he’s doing.


As a biology teacher, Tim appreciates real-life applications. He would love to start a bio- tech class in the future. He develops teaching assignments for 13 teachers, manages the department budget, and articulates with the feeder schools.

As a leadership teacher, he enjoys helping students learn communication skills. He and a colleague designed the class, resulting in improved connections between students and

staff. In the long term, Tim sees himself involved in more leadership and mentoring roles.

As a track and cross country coach, Tim has learned how to motivate students, making no distinction between the first place and last place runners.

One of the Asst Principals, Bryan Emmert, said that when he was interviewing students for their college letters of recommendation and asked which teacher had made a lasting impact on them, “It came as no surprise that the overwhelming choice was Mr. Krieger. He was remembered for being not only a fun teacher, but as someone who really cared about the students and made sure that they were learning the material.”

While Tim may have been at Monta Vista High only since 1999, he has already made an enduring impression on the staff and students.

Dianne Langley, 2005

Dianne Langley, Social Studies Teacher and Department Chair at Natick High School, has been teaching for twenty-seven years. She currently is a teacher of United States History and Advanced American Studies, an honors level course for seniors that she developed.  Her nominators note that as Chair of the Social Studies Department, “Dianne, in addition to her administrative duties, acts as mentor, curriculum resource, and inspiration for the ten other teachers in the department.’

Bethany Sager, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member comments, “When I first read the nomination packet for Dianne, I felt that she shared a kindred spirit with my own favorite teacher of Honors United States History. Upon meeting Dianne, I got to see first hand the wonderful qualities she possesses as a woman and as a teacher. Dianne is easily approachable, she expects great thinking from her students, and she respects them. Her classroom lessons focus on authentic learning, they are creative, and they are most certainly memorable. Dianne has a palpable connection with her students. They feel respected because Dianne speaks to them as adults.”

To experience one of Dianne’s Advanced American Studies classes is an adventure in exciting and enriching teaching and learning.  The students put aside their work on mini debates of various national issues to try-out a couple of lessons from Dianne’s new curriculum resource The Lang Book: A Collection of Contemporary Song Lyrics for Use in Social Studies and English Class. The class evidenced interdisciplinary learning with students making numerous connections to real life and current issues that affect them.  Students had searched psychology books, “right to privacy” laws, and reality television to answer questions to prepare for their class discussion. It was clear that Dianne’s students feel safe in her presence to speak frankly in front of their peers. Dianne believes strongly in helping her students to find their voice and to support their opinions.

Dianne presented Rock on: Using Contemporary Music to Make Cross-Curricula Connections at the New  England Conference for Social Studies.  The presentation included information about her new curriculum resource of contemporary songs along with interdisciplinary lessons to illicit information and discussion.  According to Dianne:“Using contemporary music gives a vehicle for making historical issues more relevant as they can be understood within the context of current expression and current issues.  Using song lyrics as a lesson format attracts student attention to learning, engages students, and varies the routines of teachers.”

Dianne Langley’s nomination packet included many letters written in support of her from her colleagues and former students. Some comments include:

·   “Dianne serves as a catalyst in the personal development of her colleagues.”

·   “It’s the best class ever.”

·   “It has been my great pleasure to know her.”

·   “She taught me never to underestimate the capabilities of students.”

·   “Dianne is an unbelievably supportive person.”

·   “She exemplifies education at its best”.

·   “She is a wonderful human being.”

·   “Whether you are her student or her colleague, you feel that Dianne Langley believes in you.”

·   “I aspire to be as innovative and creative as Dianne.”

·   “She demonstrates the power of education to change individual lives.”

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School Wellness Department, 2010

Nancy O’Neil, Susan Shields, Sarah Greeley, Marci Stoda, Shawn Miller, Greg Gammons, Chris Belmont, Amanda Klein, Vicky Caburian, Mel Gonsalves,  and Kelly Mazza  serve students of the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury, MA.

“Wellness is the active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.”  The members of the team are committed to engaging all students at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in the process of knowing themselves and using that knowledge to make good decisions. They accomplish this by responding to the challenge of meeting individual student’s needs with dynamic curriculum and responsive instruction. The Lincoln-Sudbury Wellness Department had to create their own shining model of progressive wellness in order to meet the needs of their students and community.

One of the ways the Wellness Department meets all students’ Physical Education and Health Education needs is by designating half of a student’s wellness credits as “electives.”  Students choose from a menu of offerings including High Adventure, Nutrition, Golf, Yoga, Just Dance, Group Exercise, and more.  The department encourages students to “try on” different experiences, thereby promoting self-awareness. 

Collectively, they have provided numerous examples of outreach to the Lincoln-Sudbury community, and beyond. Examples include: regular presentations to parents/community on the topics of substance use/abuse and stress management; presentations to the school on violence prevention; and numerous presentations at state, regional, and national conferences.”

The members of the Wellness Department not only build community, but they work as a diverse team unto themselves. They model for all of us what  positive, honest, cooperative relationships look like.

Mary Liu , 2014

Mary Liu is a Science Teacher in Grades 9-12 at Weston High School in MA.

Imagine a classroom full of high school students who are smiling and deeply engaged in their learning.  Now, imagine an innovative, energetic and deeply committed teacher, teaching these students.  Mary Liu walks the halls each day, dreams big dreams for her students and then finds creative ways to make each of these dreams come true. Her dreams for her students come in many forms.  Mary facilitated an opportunity through a WEEFC grant for her students to watch a live knee surgery through video-conference in the Global Education Center at Weston High School.  In addition, she organized trips to Beth Israel’s Shapiro Simulation Center and the Warren Anatomical Museum.  Ariana Zahedi, a former student shared, “Ms. Liu has had an impact on me even beyond the classroom; she is the reason I am fascinated by the human body, by science, and want to continue it after high school.  Her class made me curious.  She showed me how wonderful Anatomy is and how I can apply it to so much around me.”

Beth Glick, a Goldin Foundation Board Member, commented about her visit with Mary. “I had the pleasure of talking with Mary Liu and then visiting her Anatomy and Physiology classroom.  As we sat and talked, Mary shared the many different ways that she engages her students in learning Anatomy and Physiology and Biology and the many ways that she makes the content real for her students.  This was quite apparent as I watched Mary Liu talking with her students as they entered the room full of enthusiasm and questions about the shark dissection they were completing that day.  Mary moved thoughtfully and with great excitement throughout the room ready with her gloves and goggles on.  She drew a picture of the shark on the board, engaged the students in talking about how to perform the dissection, and then modeled and talked with students about how to label the shark during the dissection.  Her excitement was palpable as she stood next to different students and listened to their questions about how to label different parts of the shark.”

Teaching is only a part of what Mary Liu does in her work at Weston High School.  Kari Flint, a Biology teacher shared, “Since the first day I met Mary, I have been in awe of her ability to take on so many responsibilities and still find the time to create meaningful experiences for her students.”    Along with teaching one section of College Prep Biology and three sections of Anatomy and Physiology, Mary takes the time to coach the dance team, coach the Women in Science team, and act as a freshman advisory group leader.  In addition, Mary is mentoring a new teacher and serving as an independent study advisor to three students during her free blocks.  Mary has also run a small group program to support students who have not yet passed the science MCAS.

Mary models a lifelong love of learning.  She is constantly seeking out professional development opportunities.  Most recently she has been learning about robotics through an online program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology so that she may add this new learning to her classroom teaching.

Mary is the kind of dedicated educator who is innovative, committed, approachable, creative, and continues to seek opportunities to support each of her students in learning in a multitude of hands-on ways.  Mikayla Cramer, a former student stated, “Ms. Liu genuinely cares about her students.  On more occasions than one, I have been down and gone to see her for advice or just as a confidant when I needed to talk to someone.  Even now, as a former student, Ms. Liu still checks in on me.  She is the reason that I, an average student, passed Anatomy class. I am forever grateful for her compassion, skill, warmth, and awesomeness.”

Lawrence Murphy, former Weston High School Science Chair stated,  “By virtue of her brilliant intellect, deep subject matter knowledge, and superb sense of planning and classroom delivery, she is without a doubt the most effective high school science teacher with whom I have worked in thirty-five years in science education.”  Mary is a gifted educator who thinks out of the box, teaches the whole student and cares deeply about making learning both academically challenging and fun.  She is a “Science Teacher Extraordinaire” at Weston High School.

Robert Lockhart, 2011 

He has been a tremendous leader with great ideas keeping his staff and students ahead of the education curve.


He has worked very hard to lead us towards collaboration and collegiality within our department.


He was instrumental in helping to shape my teaching techniques.

Over the years, students have told me repeatedly that his Physiology class was the best class (not just the best science class) they have taken at Needham HS.

These are just a few comments by his many nominators for Robert (Bob) Lockhart, who has served in Needham, MA since 1971 as a biology teacher and as Science Department Chair since 1991.

As Director of Science, Bob’s compassion for his staff and his ability to lead has created a strong cohesive group of science teachers. He has helped them stay motivated and up to date with new ideas. Think of outstanding professional development opportunities, and you can imagine a summer institute that brings in famous name scientists, researchers, and criminologists to talk to teachers about cutting edge developments in many areas of science. Working with Science Directors from other schools served by TEC, The Education Cooperative, Bob developed a summer program of graduate level science courses for middle and high school teachers. Since 1994 they have met annually to focus on subjects with interdisciplinary themes in each of the science areas.

Bob has made many successful changes to the high school science curriculum and the instructional practices within his department.  One curricular change was a transfer of major components of the 9th grade earth science curriculum from the high school to the middle school.  In this way, the high school science sequence of courses was transformed and created opportunities for students to enroll in physics in their sophomore year.

Bob introduced the idea of science being taught using a thematic approach that explores “big ideas,” which has led to students making better connection among concepts taught in their biology, physics, and chemistry classes. In Biology, for example, themes such as homeostasis, organization, energy transfers, structure and function, unity and diversity are woven throughout the units of the course.

His leadership brought about positive changes in standardizing the criteria and requirements for the written lab report.  In essence, students learn technical writing. He and his team also developed formative assessments for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

As a teacher, Bob uses many of the same skills with his students that he uses with adults…probing, questioning, reasoned logical thinking, providing evidence, drawing conclusions.  He models inquiry-based instruction in his classroom, and his students are the beneficiaries.

Daniel Gutekanst, Superintendent of Schools, aptly summarizes, “Bob is a warm, sensitive and engaging person, who has dedicated his professional life to the teachers and students of the Needham Public Schools. Developing students as well-rounded human beings, who are knowledgeable about scientific principles of the world around them, has been the focus of his career.  Developing teachers who are also dedicated to this cause has been his passion.”

Melinda Lohan, 2014

Melinda Lohan, is a History and Sociology Teacher and Soccer and Track Coach at Medfield High School in MA. Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member Molly Uppencamp, who introduced Melinda at the Forum, commented, “When I sat down to read the nomination packets of each of this year’s award nominees, Melinda immediately jumped out of the stack. She is certainly an accomplished and dedicated teacher, coach and mentor - but that’s not what struck me on first glance. What immediately convinced me that Melinda must be a worthy recipient of this award was the heading one of her students put at the top of the letter she wrote on Melinda’s behalf – ‘Ms. Lohan for best teacher award.’ Many of us know the harsh judges that teenagers can be, and how their first instinct is often to complain about teachers who challenge them. But this student sees Melinda as the ‘best teacher.’  In her letter, she goes on to say that she ‘is not only the best teacher, but the best person you will ever meet.’ But she said it all when she wrote of Melinda’s dedication, ‘She does not do these things because she believes it is what she needs to do to be the best teacher, but it is because she believes that each one of her students have the ability to be the best student they can possibly be.’  Now that I have had the pleasure of meeting Melinda and hearing about her innovative teaching and passionate coaching, I can fully understand the respect and admiration this student expressed in her letter.”

Colleagues note, “Melinda is the type of teacher we all remember and always wanted to have.” When Melinda introduced a Sociology elective at Medfield High, it immediately became incredibly popular. The innovative course teaches students how to design their own experiments that “break social norms” that they carry out on unsuspecting strangers during a field trip to Faneuil Hall. In her history courses, students experience a “flipped classroom,” where they watch lectures on video as homework and spend their class time working in groups and having meaningful discussions. Melinda has spent countless hours on her own learning how to make these Vodcasts, which enable students who need more time and review to learn the material.  Data has shown an increase of 5-10% in student performance in the first year alone.


Melinda’s passion for education extends far beyond the classroom. She spends countless hours after school coaching girls on the soccer field, running alongside her track athletes. When asked what she enjoys about coaching, Melinda shared that she feels like “sports made her who she is” and that she wants to help her student athletes have the same type of self-discovery. She says that her involvement in after school activities helps her to form relationships with students and have an appreciation of their lives and schedules. Students learn what it means to be dedicated and passionate about something, and Melinda is a role model whose lessons for them go far beyond the field or track.


In addition to teaching and coaching, Melinda is Co-advisor for WARPATH (Warriors Proactively Advocating for Teen Health). The goal is to promote and give students alternatives to using drugs or alcohol. The group sponsors school wide tailgates before football games, dances after Friday night basketball games, and awareness campaigns.

Melinda Lohan is a truly remarkable educator who, as she put it, believes in developing the whole student and values the lessons that exist both within and outside of the curriculum.

Ricki Lombardo, 1999

According to her nominators, "Ricki brings her creative talents to the classrooms well as the many roles she fills for the high school community and the community at large." Her work at college and the university has focused on theater , the related arts, and the use of creative arts in learning; while her work in the classroom and on stage has awakened, excited, and challenged her students. She has compiled and extremely varied list of accomplishments, from founding the school's literary magazine, to co-founding a women's issues discussion group, to chairing the Arts Department.

Students' affection and respect for her runs deep.  Many call upon her for advice or counseling, perhaps inspiring her last year to establish a group called "Pathways and Voices for Young Women."  The purpose of the "club" is to enhance the self-concept of girls in the school, to give them a place where they can talk about issues that directly affect their lives.

Her efforts to expand the Arts Program are noteworthy, bringing the classroom into the community (and vice versa) in a series of special initiatives.  For many years, she has taken classes of groups of students to perform at the elementary schools.  This year she invited senior citizens to work with a few of her Modern Drama students in writing, producing, and acting out their own plays.  As Department Head, she, she has galvanized the community to support new programs for all students, including a new Advanced Placement course at the high school.

It is in the field of drama that Ricki has had the most profound impact on her school and the communities it serves.  In fifteen years she has directed almost thirty plays and musicals which have brought the community together and have delighted audiences with their professionalism and elaborate staging.   Scores of parents have volunteered to build sets or paint scenery or lead dance practices or create costumes.  Hundreds of students have come to think of these performances as the most significant experiences of their high school lives." 

Whether it is playing a key role in parent support groups, writing grants, or showcasing students' accomplishments, Ms. Lombardo has begun to effect change in both the perception and the accomplishments of the arts at the high school. In addition, she has reached beyond her immediate neighborhood through such activities as role-playing workshops for women at Brigham and Women's Hospital

 who are recovering from breast cancer surgery and the teaching of creative dramatics to primary school children at the Dedham Community House.

Mark Lonergan, 2014

Mark Longergan is High School STEAM Faculty/Center Fellow at Boston Arts Academy in Boston.  Take Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math known as STEM, integrate it with energizing and exciting arts curricula, and you get students who now have many entry points into subjects that might otherwise be challenging for them. Mark Lonergan makes that happen every day.

Boston Arts Academy is Boston’s only public high school for the arts that serves 440 students from all sections of the city. Mark decided to draw on students’ strengths, creativity, and artistic talents to help them succeed in math.  He developed a new type of curriculum that incorporated the arts into algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus.  He developed units that connected the hula dance with math functions, the piano keyboard with a number line, and Islamic tiling motifs with tessellations.  (A tessellation is created when a shape is repeated over and over again covering a plane without any gaps or overlaps.)   The results are deeper understanding and more student engagement in math classes.

STEAM has transformed the way math and science are taught at BAA.  There are now 30 different STEAM curriculum units for 9th-12th grade classes.  Examples include stop-motion animation used to demonstrate the process of cell division, statistical analysis of Grammy winning song lyrics, and the use of geometry to design lighting for concerts.

The Billboard Design Challenge gets students to think about whether having a billboard on the roof of their school building, which is right across the street from Fenway Park might bring some more attention to the school and perhaps generate some additional funding.  The task is to create a billboard, decide where to locate the rooftop structure keeping in mind location and visibility, and analyze the costs and benefits. This curriculum exemplifies the very best in applying 21st century skills involving critical thinking and creative problem solving.

Mark is the school’s leader in engaging alumni in several new initiatives. The goals are to gather information about the successes and challenges that students face after graduating from BAA and provide a network where alumni support each other in college and careers.  He planned and co-hosted a reunion, which 40 recent graduates attended.  This is an important strategy for early support to help students stay in college. Mark is using the alumni network to mentor students.  The Alumni “Support Our Seniors” event involved alumni talking to current seniors about college applications and the financial aid process. Alums have also come back to mentor 11th graders to discuss college and career pathways.

In addition to teaching, Mark serves as Fellow for the Center of Arts in Education, where he is responsible for professional development and disseminating the work of BAA  as its advocacy arm.  He has co-directed BAA’s Summer Institute; he has presented workshops about the school’s innovative math curriculum; and he has helped create professional learning communities. Mark is committed to supporting the development of new teachers and has worked with interns from many colleges.  He helps them understand what it takes to makes a classroom run well.

His nominators note that “Mark is an extraordinary teacher, colleague, and mentor. He has been a catalyst for change at his school and in the field of arts integration.  He cherishes the humanity of teaching and learning.  Students know this and respond in kind with respect and generosity.  Mark Lonergan has a formative impact on every student.”

Thomas J. MacDonough 1995

Mr. Thomas MacDonough serves as   a model of excellence to his students   and peers in the Norwood Public Schools.  As classroom teacher of Western Civilization and European History, as Department Chair of Social Studies, as lecturer at Northeastern University and regular participant in in-service programs, he consistently demonstrates conscientiousness and commitment to the education of Norwood’s youth and  concern for professional growth and commitment. “Tom MacDonough possesses the rare combination of intellectual curiosity, glowing scholarship, and personal charisma that are hallmarks of great teaching, states one of his former students, Wayman Chin.  “From the very first day of class, Tom made history an exciting and compelling adventure; his knowledge seemed boundless; his love for his subject infectious; and his respect for each student undeniable.  A born raconteur, he lifted history out of our books, and made the personages of the past the players in an ever evolving drama.”   A well traveled life long learner, he enlivens his classes using slides from his many trips abroad to stimulate discussions and bring lessons to life.

Mr. MacDonough strives to present the broadest possible view of civilization to his classes in curriculum development and  interactive projects that are designed to actively engage students in the learning process.   His inter-disciplinary perspective is reflected in the curricula he developed for courses in ‘Russian Studies,” “Asian History,” and “Western Civilization, and “Advanced Placement European History.”  Student collaborative projects such as mock trial of Louis the 16th, which  involve judge, attorneys, jury and character witnesses, generate much research and encourage creativity.

Excellence is reflected in Norwood High School’s  Social Studies Department, whose teachers have also been cited for special awards.  Meetings feature specialty and project sharing.; and teachers are encouraged to attend conferences and develop new ideas. Tom fosters professional development by  presenting in-service programs to colleagues at conferences and at Northeastern University, where he is an instructor. He also serves as a reader in Advanced Placement European History for the Educational Testing Service.

As a good citizen, Tom has volunteered his help in many ways to enrich the culture of  Norwood High School.  He has been a member of the Faculty Senate, School Advisory Council, National Honor Society, Advisory Board, Principal’s Advisory Committee, School Equity Committee, and School Improvement Council. He also serves as Director of Adult Education for the Town of Norwood and a member of the Board of Directors of the MA Council for Social Studies.

Mr. MacDonough has been recognized by numerous awards, grants, and fellowships during his career.  Stated by Ralph Toran, former Superintendent of Schools, “Tom represents the creme de la creme in regards to dedication, professionalism, motivation, creativity, and commitment to quality teaching.”

Ann Malachowski, 2005

Over her thirty- year career at both the elementary and secondary levels, Ann Malachowski, Art Department Chair and Teacher at Norwood High School, has brightened the lives of all who have known her.  Students, teachers, and community members alike are inspired by her passion for the Arts and her commitment to teaching.  Ann effectively teaches every level of student from those who are just sampling an art course to those who are enrolled in Advanced Placement.  She show them all the same respect, interest, and energy.

Ann volunteers countless hours outside the regular school day; helping her students ready their works for art competition and community art displays; counseling students about college and careers, and “just being there” for students who need encouragement and advise. A student nominator commented, “I know that when I look at the slides you helped me develop, I will remember the countless hours you helped and your radiant smile as you viewed each one of them.  I can see you smiling and that means more to me than anything the world can offer.”

Ann is a consummate professional who is well-versed in the intellectual foundation of her discipline; an active participant and leader in Art Association as the local, state, and national levels; and frequent volunteer, offering her time and wisdom to various educational committees.

Despite severe budget constraints, Ann has maintained her optimism and shown her tenacity.  As Department Chair for grades 6-12 in Art, Ann has greatly expanded the Arts curriculum.   As a result, enrollment in the Arts Program has tripled under her leadership.  And plans for the Arts Program in the future continue to be bright.  Ann, who envisions a three tier approach to the Arts Curriculum: 2-dimensional, 3-dimensional, and graphics, is hoping to secure by 2007 approval for courses in AP Sculpture, Sculpture II, and Computer Graphics II.

 Whether she is participating in a “Creative Painting Bird Houses for Habitat for Humanity” project, conducting a pumpkin carving contest for Halloween, or devoting a weekend to an “Art in Bloom” display of student work in coordination with Norwood’s Garden Club, Ann invites us all – student, teacher, and community member- to share in her joy of Art.

Zachary Mandell, 2006

 Zachary Mandell is  a Science teacher at Boynton Continuation High School, an alternative high school, in the Campbell Union High School District, Campbell, CA.

Zach Mandell is a product of the district in which he now teaches.  He attended Noddin Elementary School, Union Middle School, and Leigh High School.  He is a graduate of California State University at Sacramento. 

It is not surprising that Zach decided to become a teacher.  His father is a chemistry teacher at Pioneer High School, his mother is a former teacher, his brother is a teacher in Hayward, and Zach’s fiancee is a teacher at Leland High School. 

In addition to his role as a science teacher, Zach also is a home and hospital teacher for his district, he sits on the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, and he is Boynton’s representative to the District’s Curriculum Council.  In addition, he is one of four members of the on campus Leadership Team.  One can frequently find Zach supervising students in the gym before school, and he often plays ping pong with students during break and lunch.  As one might guess, he is respected by students and staff.  At every student assembly and graduation, students cheer for Zach as he is introduced!

Zach started teaching at Boynton during the 2001-2002 academic year, with this year being his fifth year as a teacher.  At the time he was hired, I was the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in the District, and I knew Zach was a special individual when I first met him.  His receipt tonight of the Goldin Foundation’s award is testimony to the quality this young educator brings to his classroom, school, and district. 

As Karen Wagner, his principal, and Rosa Perez, Boynton’s Dean of Students, wrote in their nomination letter: “His passion to teach and to reach out to students who have had very negative experiences in traditional high schools has resulted in an exemplary teacher at Boynton High School.”

According to Bob Lowry, former Asst. Superintendent of Campbell School District who introduced Zach, " I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of Zach’s classes recently for a ninety minute block period.  I was impressed that he greeted each student by name as the student entered the room.  Observing his classroom, it was immediately obvious to me that Zach is a well-organized teacher, having standards, procedures, schedules, and student work posted throughout the classroom.  He provided ongoing positive reinforcement for his students, and with seven computers present in the room, I knew Zach places a high priority on the use of interactive assignments and technology in the classroom.  He even announced to his students that they could do the frog dissection online if they preferred not to do the dissection on a real frog!  Times certainly have changed since I was in high school biology! 

The quality of Zach’s teaching is furthered by the fact that two of the letters of recommendation for his nomination for the Goldin Foundation Award came from his science teacher colleague at Boynton, Mr. Lyle Zaman, himself an outstanding educator, and Gayle Visher, another outstanding educator who serves as a consulting teacher and teacher advisor in the District.  The fact that Zach was this year’s Region 5 nominee for Teacher of the Year for the California League of High Schools serves as further testimony to his receiving the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education Award.

Christopher Martell, 2012

Dr.Christopher Martell is a History and Social Sciences Teacher at Framingham High School in Framingham MA.

Sara Cummins, a member of the Goldin Foundation Advisory Board, describes her visit to Chris’ classroom.  “It is first period at Framingham High School. I am sitting in the back of Dr. Christopher Martell’s United States History II class. On this day students will be learning about Brown vs. the Board of Education and the desegregation of schools. Chris begins class by showing images and a video from the day that Little Rock 9 were escorted into Little Rock Central High School. As he makes his presentation, the class immediately gets stirred up. Students can’t hold in their thoughts, their opinions. It is clear that Chris has created a class of critical thinking students. A passionate discussion breaks out. Students debate back and forth and ask questions. I begin flipping through the readings inspired by the students, wanting to join in. I look down at my notebook. I see notes on Brown vs. the Board of Education on desegregation. I realize that just like the students, I, too, have been swept up in Dr. Martell’s class. I stop to observe. I see students who are fully immersed in the material; I can see on students’ faces that they truly care about what they are learning. I think to myself, ‘Wow, he’s really got them.’ Dr. Martell has truly inspired these students.”

Christopher Martell has not used textbooks in five years. He has taken on the arduous task of compiling readings and photographs from numerous sources, often with conflicting viewpoints. His students are responding to the new primary texts; they are completing more homework reading assignments and joining classroom discussions. This innovative approach has led Christopher in the direction of teacher lead research. In 2011 he spoke at the American Education Research Association Conference challenging the dominance of textbooks in education. His research will be published in an upcoming book.

Christopher's reach extends far beyond his classroom walls, which greatly impact the Framingham High School community. He has developed the Advanced Placement US Government course, which grows in size each year. He has started a Debate Club that focuses on critical thinking skills, and he has created announcements televised within the school on how to register to vote. Chris does this without compensation. He is driven by the students. To his colleagues he is a point person on integrating technology into their classrooms, and he has served on the district committee charged with adapting the new teacher evaluation system.

One of Chris’ student nominators stated her belief that a magnificent teacher is one who truly loves what they teach. She described the visible excitement that travels through Dr. Martell as he explains a new concept, and that he never fails to make history interesting. She added, “Before starting this class, I did not believe that I could make a difference for anyone about anything. I realized that my mentality was completely wrong, which in turn has lead to a new me.” The student concluded that she will never stop questioning, that she is inspired to do more for people, and that she understands herself better because of Dr. Martell’s teaching.

Christopher Martell influences his students, he makes a difference, and he is creating life-long learners. The passion which he has for history is contagious;  it is inspirational.

Deandra McBride, 2013

DeandraMcBride serves  as the PAL Teacher (Peer Assisted Leadership) at Barbers Hill High School in Barbers Hill ISD, Texas.  The Barbers Hill PALs Program is one of the finest peer programs in the region.   High school students are trained in positive interaction in the classroom; they are then matched with students who need positive role models or tutors at other grade levels.  Mrs. McBride has dramatically increased the number of students and campuses served.  She has three H.S. classes who serve all the campuses in the district.  Many of the H.S. PALs serve multiple students.  These H.S. students, through the direction of Mrs. McBride, share their lives and abilities with students through personal connections, games, mentoring, and sharing.  Many PALees are so excited when their role model PALS come to visit.  Making positive connections helps students feel better about themselves, helps their grades go up, and teaches them the value of connecting and interacting positively with others.  Mrs. McBride models that role to her students through her commitment to each student and her personal work ethic.  She is the kind of teacher whom you would want to be influencing your own child.

Janet McDermott, 2006

Janet McDermott is an English Teacher at Medfield High School in Medfield, MA. Teaching in Medfield for thirty-four years, she has gained the reputation of being one of Medfield’s best instructors of English and literature. According to her nominators, Janet “spins her magic” both with students and teachers she mentors.  Janet has taught at both the middle and high schools and for ten years served as English Content Specialist.

Gail Duffy, English Content Specialist, states, “Janet’s skills as a teacher are complemented by her strength of character, altruistic values and commitment to Medfield students.  “She is a natural nurturer, quickly able to see when a student needs a hug, a word of encouragement, or even a raucous applause.”

One of Janet’s very successful innovations is a project geared toward transitioning ninth graders to their new experience as high school students.  When they first arrive, freshmen are given an “Introduce Yourself Booklet,’ with thirteen components to write about themselves as the year progresses.  The goal is to become more aware and build confidence.  Some of the components even include entries by parents, grandparents, or siblings.  Students then have opportunities to reflect and compare their experiences later.

Janet’s student population represents all skill levels; for whom she differentiates delivery of content, creates meaningful authentic assessments, and provides challenge.  To her honors students, she is inspirational and demanding.  Her intellectualism and creativity push these students to excellence and require their exercising critical and analytical skills.  At the other end of the spectrum, Janet works with classes in which most, if not all, of her students are on educational plans.  In fact, her forte is her ability to motivate the less self-directed, less motivated learner. These students thrive under her patient and structured teaching, leading to measurable advancement in learning and skills.

Her nominators note that there are countless teachers whose lives, knowledge and careers have been enriched by Janet. One who is always ready with inspiration, encouragement, support, and humor, Janet shares her expertise and models her methodology.

She has often served as mentor to first year teachers. David Gibbs, retired Dean of Students, notes that in one particular situation, Janet worked with a young staff member who lacked confidence and presence.  Over the year with immeasurable hours spent in observing her colleague, meeting after school, and encouraging her to come and observe her classroom, Janet brought this person along to where she is a highly respected teacher today.  Janet recognized the teacher’s hidden creativity and unique approach, and she encouraged experimentation.

Janet’s colleagues reflect that they are better educators and persons for having known her. 

Kristen McDonnell, 2016


“Kristen, who serves as Guidance Department Chair at Norwood High School in MA, is an outstanding leader, fantastic department head, and true team member.  She constantly goes above and beyond what she is asked to do.  Her work ethic is incredible, and this is visible in all presentations, activities, or projects in which she is involved. She helps us keep the ‘big picture’ in mind and makes sure that no matter what, we are putting our students first while also keeping them held to a high standard.”  Kristen’s colleagues comment on her leadership in creating a positive work environment and creating a strong department.



Kristen McDonnell, a Boston native and graduate of Stonehill College, joined the NHS guidance staff in 2009, and took over leadership of the guidance department four years ago. She is also the head coach of the two-time state champion Braintree High girls’ basketball team.  One of her basketball players described her coach, “Coach McDonnell has been my coach for a long time, and she’s taught me so much, not just about basketball, but about life. I’ve learned from her how important it is to work hard to get better, and how necessary it is to have people who support you around you. She’s focused not on the individual, but on the team.”


Kristen has initiated many innovative programs, including:

·       She developed and implemented the “Mustang Mentor” Program, which empowers all types of students to take leadership and mentoring roles in the school. One example is training students to connect with student as they transition from middle school to the high school.

·       Kristen saw the need for career counseling and was able to add the position of career

counselor to assist students of all interests and aptitudes find their post-high school path. 

She worked on a team to implement a school-wide advisory curriculum in which each student has a peer group and faculty member that stays together for 4 years and offers a trusting community for students.

·       For college-bound students, the introduction of a new system to assist in management and submission of college applications has been an important change.


Faculty and student members of the Norwood High School “team” have had more opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive because of Kristen’s creative ideas, tireless hard work, and never-ending support.


Mikki McMillion, 2013 

Mikki McMillion is an English Teacher at Monta Vista High School, Fremont Union High School District in Cupertino, CA. She teaches sophomore World Literature and Writing in collaboration with Art 2 and Junior American Literature and Writing.  In addition, she advises a club she developed called the New Student Support Club, an outreach program that helps newcomers blend into the campus climate and connects them with resources and advocates. She also provides support as a mentor to student and probationary teachers, specifically working with San Jose State’s teaching credential program.  Finally, Mikki also is part of the Research Paper Team and often works closely with the Special Education Department. 

Bob Lowry, a Goldin advisory board member, comments, “I believe it is telling that Mikki was nominated for this Goldin Foundation recognition by colleagues at three different high schools in her district.  She is definitely recognized as a leader in her field. 

I was able to visit Mikki’s classroom and then visit with her following that visitation last week.  When asked what she likes most about teaching, she replied that she is always a student and is always learning.  In addition, she is never bored.   Perhaps the lack of boredom in her life also has to do with the fact that she and her husband are the parents of three children:  a fifteen year old son, a twelve year old son, and a seven year old daughter. Upon entering Mikki’s classroom last week, I immediately sensed the positive relationships she has with her students.  She also makes frequent use of humor.  On the day I visited, the students were working on their Ted Talk project, a project initiated by Mikki, working with two other English teachers.  Teams of students are collaboratively preparing a video message on a topic of their choice revolving around Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  Three exemplary presentations will be sent on to the Monta Vista administration which will choose the winning presentation; the students who prepared that presentation will be the recipients of a $1,000.00 award!”

Recognition for her outstanding teaching is not new to Mikki.  Last year she was honored in Barnes and Noble’s “My Favorite Teacher” contest.  In her nomination comments, Deborah Vanni, a teacher at Homestead High School, quoted the famous French poet, Anatole France:  “The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds.”  As Ms. Vanni wrote, “Mikki lives this philosophy by guiding her students to make connections beyond the classroom by continually stimulating their ‘natural curiosity.’”

Kerry Mohnike, 2003

Kerry Mohnike, an English Teacher and Chairperson of the English Department at Saratoga High School  in the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District, has been involved in numerous activities during her eleven-year career. She has taught journalism and virtually every level of English; she has chaired two WASC accreditation processes and is the current chair of the English Department. She has helped lead the district teachers in negotiations with the school board; and she has become her district’s first National Board Certified Teacher.

Kerry is a consummate educator. Her colleagues admire her for her outstanding competence in the classroom and for her commitment to personal growth as well as her effort, tenacity and willingness to be a leader/change agent in many aspects of the school and district.  Principal Kevin Skelly says “that to be in Kerry’s class is to see someone making a profoundly positive influence in kids’ lives.  She’s always thinking about the world of her students  - how they think, what they value, what motivates them, and what they need to know as she helps to shape their thinking and growth.” Students at all levels of achievement flourish in her classroom.  Kerry is known to creatively think of options to help her students, whether its allowing a student to express his understanding of a subject through artwork since written expression was difficult or meeting with a student after school to evaluate her learning so that she didn’t have to “freeze” in front of the entire class.

Her leadership is evident as shown by one of her project , the AVID Program, which she felt might be a way to help some students receive academic support and improve their skills. AVID stands for “Advancement Via Individual Determination.”  It was Kerry’s impetus that started the planning.  Her enthusiasm for teaching the class and willingness to spend a week of her summer vacation for training were instrumental in AVID’s implementation. Her assistant principal, Gail Wasserman, notes that it was much easier to “sell” the program concept to prospective students and their parents and also to senior students with high academic credentials, who had to commit to help with the program, when they heard Ms. Mohnike was the teacher.

We see in this educator someone who empathizes and understands her students, her commitment to improve herself and others, her ability to discuss the important issues of her school with passion, and her wonderful heart.  Kerry helps to make all of the people she touches better human beings.

Anne Mullany, 2002

Ms. Mullany, a Mathematics teacher at Belmont High School in Belmont, is described by her nominators as being, "one of the most respected and admired teachers in the school,” because she believes in the potential of all her students from the high risk to AP students. She cherishes her strong rapport with her students, and every action and intent of this dedicated teacher is to make mathematics accessible to every student.
Anne has been involved in the implementation of an alternative education program, known as the Key Program, which was designed to address the needs of a specific population of at risk students, who were hindered by emotional, social, and substance abuse issues. As a result of the Key Program and Anne’s dedication to these students, the attrition rate was diminished and most students met with academic success. Many went on to continue their education.

Ms. Mullany is engaging as a teacher. A nominator notes, “ Students know that Ms. Mullany is the ‘real deal.’ Her excellent methodology is an extension of her personality, and this is why expert pedagogy comes so naturally to her, and with such good results. The AP Calculus student will attend a three hour after school session because Anne expects her to be there; the truant may come to her class before all others because Anne is amused rather than distressed by his antics. Good natured prodding with continued encouragement keeps this student and others on track.

Anne shows her spirit and love of her students by making extra-curricular activities such as cheerleading coach, class advisor, faculty senate member, and participant on the scholarship committee priorities in her life.  She has also undertaken the role of chaperoning students groups to such countries as Russia, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and East Germany.

Described by her colleagues as "a person of high moral character, keenly defined professional ethics, and a leader in the department,” Ms. Mullany was also nominated by one of her students, who wrote, "Ms. Mullany is a wonderful teacher, and her teaching style has allowed me to achieve my goals in Math. Ms. Mullany goes beyond her role as a teacher and acts as a friend and mentor, helping us overcome our fears and problems." 

Dawn Nelson, 2008

Dawn Nelson exemplifies how a classroom teacher can make a positive impact on the entire school and community.  Her English and Honors English classrooms are invigorating and meaningful.  She participates fully in staff development activities, serves as a master teacher to a student teacher, and is the new Chair of her department.  A leader in building positive school climate, Dawn choreographs the teacher homecoming skit, organizes school activities for Read Across America, and participates in the annual faculty musical and annual Prominent Fashion Show.

Dawn is the driving force behind Branham’s highly successful Book Club.. She recognized that getting students to read outside of the classroom and bringing parents into the school could greatly increase the relevance and impact of reading.  It would function informally rather than being tied to a particular class or academic pursuit. Dawn might provide discussion questions to get the conversations going, but usually the groups run themselves.  There are no grades, no reports.

The program began four years ago and continues to grow.  Over 100 people regularly attend and include students, parents, and teachers.  Dawn tries to select books that are of interest to teenagers as well as having literary merit.  They’ve read classic fiction, modern novels, and short story collections.  The books have raised issues about the immigrant experience, war, spirituality, and many other complex and stimulating topics.  When The Emperor Was Divine was read , it was also a selection for “Silicon Valley Reads,” a program sponsored by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, the County Library and Public Library Foundation.  The author, Julie Osuka, was gracious to accept an invitation to visit Branham to discuss her book and her writing process with Branham students and teachers, providing a further enriching experience.  Book Club participants continue their discussions through an on-line discussion group on the school’s web based program.  Parents have remarked that they are talking more to their students and that they have reason for meaningful conversations that would not have otherwise happen.   Students have opportunities to talk with other teachers and create connections with them apart from the usual class content areas.

One of Dawn’s nominators reflected on the importance of staff morale as a direct impact on student achievement.  Richard Alipaz, Director of Student Activities, cites how Dawn provides many opportunities in which her fellow staff members have a positive influence on the lives of students outside of the classroom.  One of the most celebrated events for the Branham school community is homecoming.   It is also one of the first opportunities for new and veteran staff members to get involved in extra-curricular activities on campus; and they perform a skit at the annual night rally, which Dawn orchestrates every year.   After students choose the theme, Dawn introduces the idea to teachers by assembling a music/slide presentation of the prior years skit evidencing all the fun and excitement.  She then selects music, arranges choreography, and sets up the rehearsals.  The results are an entertaining skit for the students and a strong sense of comraderie leading to staff participation in a variety of future campus activities.

 Dawn inspires!    The positive attitude that she brings about creates a sense of community and spirit that is highly infectious, motivating both students and staff to get more involved. She makes the learning environment an exciting and vibrant place to work and learn. 

Jane Norton, 2001

At the recent 11th annual Goldin Foundation Educators Forum, Jane Norton, English Teacher at Hopkinton High School, was recognized for "Excellence in Education." One of six award recipients, she shared experiences, projects, and insights with other teachers, administrators, parents, and members of local communities.

According to her nominators "Jane is a masterful English teacher and a positive influence on the culture of the school. Her students love her. She clearly enjoys her work and loves and respects her students. In her role as mentor leader, she influences the way new teachers are integrated with the school system, advising and encouraging them in positive ways."

Jane has stated that she learns as much from the kids as they do from her. With guidance, she encourages students to take ownership of their learning, which enhances their growth and confidence. When visiting her classroom, one is struck by the energy and enthusiasm taking place. Jane's teaching strategies are marked by unifying elements: - respecting students and their opinions - setting high expectations for students - fostering a non- judgmental atmosphere - encouraging discovery - allowing time for thought and reflection -engaging students in evaluation of the product and process

The Socratic Seminar, one instructional strategy which Jane uses, brings students closer to the text or theme, working their way from discussion and
observation to learning strategies.. Students are divided into two groups, commentators and observers. The inner circle of students comment freely on their analysis of the text, and the observers are given questions that reflect on the discussion, style, and student participation, to which they later respond. Utilizing the Socratic seminar approach with different themes since the beginning of the year, Jane has seen considerable growth in student performance and achievement.

Peer editing is used as another strategy that helps students to become better readers and writers. Students are well prepared to be specific in their commentaries with lively discussions of good writing taking place.

It has been stated that Jane took a leadership role in Hopkinton's recent outstanding performance on the MCAS exam. Jane led the teachers in closely analyzing the exam, determining where students were weak, and aligning the curriculum appropriately. For example,. Jane and her team found that in the area of writing skills, students were strong in conventions but they needed more work on developing topics and ideas as well as providing evidence of support. Students also worked on stylistic techniques such as bringing voice in and the using powerful language and phrasing. Jane reinforces writing as a way of thinking. As E.M.Forrester said, "How can I know what I think until I see what I say?'

Jane serves as advisor to the senior class, advisor to the Liberation Rock, a student activist club, and she is co-advisor to the literary magazine "Voices."
She has taught at Hopkinton High for the past eight years and previously taught at Medfield High.

In summary, Jane has high expectations for her students and for new teachers and communicates with them in ways that people feel confident and supported.

Sheldon Obelsky, 2003

Sheldon Obelsky, is a teacher of Social Studies” at Arlington High School in Arlington, MA.  He is considered a “master teacher,” particularly World History,  and his range of accomplishments is inspiring.  His department chair, Dr. John Kent, writes:  “Shelly is one of the most caring, knowledgeable and dedicated teachers that I have known in an over thirty year career.”  For example, Shelly developed an elective course called Symposium of Critical World Issues, in which students research a few key issues, including terrorism, the Middle East, popular culture, diversity in Arlington, and the Presidential election.  The outcome of this yearlong student work is a variety of newspapers prepared by students about these issues, which are distributed in the school.  Shelly’s students not only learn, but they share their knowledge and understanding with other students and faculty, making their learning a public asset.

Shelly personifies how important it is for a teacher to help students connect with controversial issues both in the past and contemporaneously.  When he is not leading student trips, he brings the larger world into his classroom, most recently through the Model Arab League at Northeastern University in which his students engage in a two-day simulation that focuses on critical issues in the Middle East.

A recipient of the local Martin Luther King Committee award for founding STOP, Students and Teachers Opposed to Prejudice at Arlington High, Shelly has also received grants from the Arlington Educational Enrichment Foundation for integrating multicultural trade books and technology into the World History curriculum.

Shelly has been a guest lecturer in social studies methods classes at Boston University, and a mentor to student interns and new social studies teachers at Arlington High.

A master teacher, fearless in bringing students into deep connection with controversial critical issues, innovative, a continuous learner himself, Shelly is a lighthouse teacher, one who illuminates the importance of history and the social sciences, and the profound significance of the educational profession.

Deidre O'Halloran, 2013

Deidre O’Halloran serves as Director of Student Activities at Boston Arts Academy, Boston Public Schools. She is a modest powerhouse, a take-charge educator whose role has broadened from being a Wellness Education Coordinator to overseeing all student activities at Boston Arts Academy including physical and social/emotional wellness.

Here’s a sampling of her initiatives

Ø   Deidre helps students find their voices by creating leadership opportunities. As faculty advisor for Student Government, she encourages students to seek solutions to issues faced at the school.  There is now one student representative on the Board of Trustees.  Two BAA students serve on the Boston Student Advisory Council.  Student government students have presented at regional conferences such as the Students Taking Charge Health and Wellness Youth Summit. With Deidre’s guidance, BAA students were the first ever to participate in the Boston Public Schools Instructional Rounds with parents, teachers, and outside educators.

Ø   She finds ways for students to gain valuable experiences through community service projects, internships, and summer programs. Deidre organizes 2 school-wide events:  Community Service Day where BAA Advisory Groups, who pair with 20 schools and non-profit community agencies in Greater Boston and volunteer their time. For the Annual Summer Enrichment Fair, Deidre recruits representatives from community organizations to come to BAA to showcase their summer enrichment programs.

Ø   Deidre implemented a Restorative Justice program.  Students are given opportunities to develop conflict resolution and leadership skills while taking responsibility for the wellbeing of their school climate and culture.  This includes training students to facilitate peer reviews and take ownership for violations of community standards through a non-judgmental and non-punitive discussion process.

 Ø   Deidre continues to strengthen health and wellness.  As a way to offer fresh vegetables as a part of lunch, Deidre pursued a grant to install a salad bar in the school’s cafeteria, which is successful.  In addition, she partnered with Sociedad Latina to create a proposal to Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department to participate in a study on healthy eating practices…from focus groups to learning about food justice, which increased awareness of how food is grown, produced, transported, sold and consumed.  Deidre partnered with Cooking Matters, a non-profit organization to teach an after school cooking class for students that involves nutritious healthy meals. This involved recruiting students and staying until 6:30 one night a week to make sure students were supervised and engaged.

Ø   Deidre enlists the support of colleagues to offer soccer, basketball, boxing, and fitness challenges for students throughout the year.  These programs are offered as alternatives to not having physical education classes or a gym at the school.

Ø   She leads the school’s Advisory Program. All BAA teachers serve as advisors to groups of 8 students for four years.  Deidre provides training for teachers, and especially new teachers, through professional development workshops that help teachers deal with many issues that are discussed in Advisory including social/emotional issues, violence prevention, community building, and substance abuse awareness.  She has her own Advisory group, and she is noted as a wonderful role model as an advocate for students.

Deidre works tirelessly to create a safe, nurturing environment where students are respected and respectful and where they have many opportunities to develop skills that will serve them as adults.  Her nominators state that she is “one of the unsung heroes of Boston Arts  Academy.”

Daniel O'Leary, 2008

Dan O’ Leary’s present and former students say it all:

    “He’s a dedicated individual who has always been extremely committed to the education of students lucky enough to learn from him.”

    “He’s quick on his feet and is excited to help out with any project even during his free periods.”

    “He influenced my decision to take the A+ Certification course, which was one of the best experiences of my life.  He helped when I was not sure of a concept and always encouraged me no matter how well I did.”

     “Now that I’m a senior at the University of MA Amherst, I am immensely grateful to Mr. O’Leary. I came to Natick at the age of 14 speaking little English and not familiar with American customs.  As I had an interest in technology, Mr. O’Leary, the sub for my ESL class, encouraged me to explore the room that was filled with mysterious computer parts where he spent a lot of time.  From a once a week class, to a networking competition, to a post high school project as his assistant teaching A+ Certification to inner city kids, Mr. O’ Leary has had an incredible

      impact on my life.”

     “As a new teacher, I needed a mentor and found one in Dan.  Dan is the most giving, caring, and enthusiastic person that I have encountered.”

Dan was instrumental in starting an A+ Hardware and Software course for students at Natick High.  The course began in 2001 and since then about 50 students have received their industry certification for “PC Maintenance and Repair Technician,” which really gives them a head start for majoring in computer science at college.  Dan helped train the teachers, set up the classroom, plan field and trips, and bring in speakers to highlight the jobs that would be available in the future.  He was instrumental in pushing students to develop the confidence they needed to take the two industry exams.

As part of the grant that Dan assisted Maureen Carney, Business Education Chair, in crafting, a community service project was incorporated .  Students used their skills to allow other students, teachers and members of the community to bring in their computers and their problems, and the A+ students diagnosed the problem and resolved the issues.  Two years ago the students set up a computer lab at the senior center, networked their computers to a printer, and made them internet ready.   They still offer support to the different groups.

Through Dan’s efforts, there is a chapter of Business Professionals of America at the high school, where students compete on a state level in network design, A+, and web design.  They have excelled sufficiently to reach national competitions and have place in the top 10% of the country in their area of expertise.

Recently Dan and several other members of the A+ Certification class finished building an ROV, an underwater vehicle.  He was able to assist in the setup of the motors, camera and wiring and helped arrange trips to the local pond and New Hampshire where students and their sub explored a shipwreck.  The team is currently working on building a 2nd ROV.

One of his former colleagues, Susan Saraceno, notes, “The students quickly learned that Mr. O’Leary was the ‘all-knowing.’  He knew his stuff and loved to get into it.  He and his students became a well-oiled machine.  They work together, insatiable for the latest, coolest technology.  There is a real collaboration with respect and unity that Dan so easily earns.”

It’s Dan choice to be a permanent sub, and it’s clear that he is a major support to staff and students at the high school……….and that he loves coming to work each and every day. 

Doug Olsen, 2015

Doug Olsen serves as Director of the Medfield Music Program, Medfield Public Schools,  MA. His music career began in middle school where he played the trumpet. Excited about what music could instill in him, he received his Bachelor’s degree from UMASS in Music Education and Jazz Studies and his Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory.

Doug launched his inspirational teaching career in Medfield with students in grades 4 through 8.  Four short years later, he became Director of Music where he develops and oversees the music curriculum for grades K-12; and he supervises the teaching staff for band, chorus, orchestra, marimba, general music and in-school lesson instruction.  He directs the award-winning high school jazz ensemble and concert band.  In addition, he directs the marching band, pit band for our musicals, jazz combo, and percussion ensemble as well as teaching music classes in grades 4 and 5.  All this means that Doug regularly clocks 90 evenings out as part of the job.

A trumpet player, Doug performed with Little Anthony and the Imperials, the Big and Phat Jazz Band the John Almark Big Band, the Worcester Jazz Orchestra, the Tommy Dorsey Big Band, and the Air Force Band of Liberty to name only a very few.

Doug credits Steve Massey, still a teacher and still a mentor

in Foxboro as his inspiration to inspire others.  For Doug, Massey’s passion to transfer the joy and love of music to students is unsurpassed.  Massey’s influence stays with him even today, guiding him with difficult decisions and challenges.  

Medfield’s Music Program is the proud recipient of many awards.  The MHS Jazz Ensemble was chosen as a finalist four times between 2005 and 2014 for the prestigious Essentially Ellington Competition at Lincoln Center.  In addition, the MHS Jazz Ensemble was chosen as a finalist three times between 2011 and 2015 for the Charles Mingus Festival in NYC; and in 2012, the Jazz Band took home the #1 Big Band award at Mingus Festival with outstanding soloist awards going to Medfield students in both the Essentially Ellington and Charles Mingus events.  

Doug’s music leadership has taken students many places from New York City to China and to the uncharted landscapes of leadership, integrity, and true friendship he helps students travel. Principal of Medfield High School, Robert Parga writes that, “Doug is uncompromising in his belief that there is a musician in every student.”  Blake Middle School Principal Nat Vaughn notes, “First and foremost, Doug is a student-centered educator.”  Former student Matt Aucoin and now composer, conductor and Metropolitan Opera Assistant Director, said of Olsen, “I can’t thank you enough for what you did, do, and will do for all of us.”  They echo the applause of all his students who found music and, along the way, found themselves.   

As one parent writes, “The Medfield Music Program would not be where it is today - the ‘crown jewel” of Medfield’ without Doug Olsen’s leadership.”  Doug Olsen thinks his greatest goal is helping all students find the music that is already inside them.

James Page, 2011

James Page, Business Teacher at Wayland High School, MA, teaches Entrepreneurship and Business Management, Investing in the Creative Economy, and Business Law at Wayland High School. He has been described as a master teacher by his colleagues. Beth Altchek, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, describes her visit to meet Jim. “When you observe him in his classes, it is easy to see why: Jim is a dynamic teacher. He has a great presence in the classroom, and a voice that booms with enthusiasm when he is lecturing, questioning, or eliciting more information from his students. His students pay attention when he speaks because he is as invested as they are in the project at hand. And the project at hand is compelling: the creation and marketing of a new ice cream flavor.

His class on Entrepreneurship and Business Management (EBM) is busy. Groups of students are working on survey questions for this latest entrepreneurial task. Their goal is to use surveys to find out what flavors their peers are interested in. Alarmingly, A1 steak sauce and ice cream have been mentioned in the same sentence. There is a lot of conversation about open versus close ended questions on surveys, and the benefits and drawbacks of each style. It’s hard to imagine that this is a gripping topic, except for one thing, and it’s a huge thing, this is not a theory class. These students will actually be following this process to its fruition. The
Wayland High School students will be surveyed and various ice cream flavors will be created, presented, and tasted before the school year ends.

This class already has business experience garnered earlier in the year; they have created business plans and pitched them. This year, one group is working with the Wayland Town Beach to raise the dwindling number of local beach users. Applying what they have learned in class with Mr. Page, they were able to see that the demographic the town was attempting to reach was not the correct one. It turns out it’s not families with young children; instead, it is the teenagers. Their plan, complete with a live band chosen to appeal to the teen group being targeted, (and who would know better) is being used to kick off this season of beach going. The fact that the community has embraced the business acumen of 16 and 17 year olds is an impressive accomplishment. EBM students are a resource that Wayland is proud to call upon.”

Education speaks of the importance of hands on, authentic learning experiences. There is a wealth of these experiences occurring with regularity in Jim Page’s classroom. The students have been extremely successful with the sales of their projects, which are as diverse as chewing gum and sticky pads to hold cell phones on dash boards. Serious money has also been made, and students then decide which worthy charity is going to get a generous donation. Jim also believes that businesses are not just about the profit margins; they are a part of the community, and therefore need to give back to society. Our world would be a better place if all members of the business community embraced such ideals, and hopefully students who have been lucky enough to have Mr. Page for EBM will be leading the way to such positive change.

Ann Perham, 2012

Ann Perham is the Head Librarian at Needham High School in Needham MA. Education has always been central to Ann and her family. Her parents made sure that she and her siblings (she is one of 7) were college educated, even though her dad passed away before Ann and two of her younger siblings had finished college. Ann’s mom made sure they completed their education. Ann finished college, got married, and began working at a school. She then went back to school for a library science degree while raising her children with her husband. Once again education was and is key for Ann and her family.  Ann and her husband made sure that their children also had the advantage of a good education.


This focus on education is a theme in Ann’s professional life as well as her personal life. At Needham she has developed a culture where she encourages lifelong learning. How does she do this? By modeling hard work, being passionate about learning and being passionate about her job and the different projects with which she is involved. These include:

  • Developing a teacher resource center in the library and cataloguing all of the history departments’ teacher resource materials and videos

  • Working with on the Historical Novel Program that integrates curriculum work of the History and English departments

  • Working on the National History Day program for the past eleven years.

  • Being a mentor homeroom teacher where she led her homeroom students for four years ensuring they had a consistent adult to help them throughout  high school

  • Being the co-advisor to the National Honor Society for many years and since 2011 the sole advisor

  • Co-chairing the NEASC (New England Association of Secondary School Committee visit for accreditation for the high school

  • Working to assist the Needham League of Women Voters initiative to get the movie Iron Jawed Angels, on women's suffrage fight, into high schools in the state

All of this in addition to her job as the Head Librarian, which includes but is not limited to:

Ø  Acquiring the best books and materials to support the curriculum and have extensive knowledge of these materials

Ø  Teaching students how to research. This means working  with individual students and small groups of students

Ø  Co-teaching with the teachers regarding specific projects such as the freshman, sophomore and Junior year English projects.

Ø  Active involvement at the state and national levels with the library associations.

Here are some quotes from some of her colleagues:

“Ann supports teachers by locating materials we may need to use in the classroom but are no longer easily accessible.”  “Her lessons on citation and research skills have helped to elevate my students’ projects to a much more scholarly and professional level.”  “Ann is a consummate professional.” “In working with students, staff and teachers, Ann shares her expertise with clarity and patience. She can bring humor to a situation and makes those around her feel a sense of ease.”

Other colleagues note, “We can attest to her collaborative nature. She models for students those characteristics and traits supportive of teaching group and collaborative skills. Her professionalism, respect for colleagues and team –efforts, always with the ultimate goal of what is best for our students, is clearly evident in her demeanor and sense of fairness.

And from a students’ perspective: “Back then, I was terrified of high school and had trouble adjusting. Mrs. Perham eased me and everyone else through tough times….She helped me with countless projects in my history and English classes. She is truly a remarkable person and an invaluable part of my high school experience.”

Ann Perham is the role model for the new twenty-first century librarian.

Walter Peterson, 1991

Walter Peterson, an English teacher at Norwood High School, was recognized for his thirty-one years of outstanding teaching and the successful implementation of a course combining the study of American literature and American history, The principal innovation in the course is the scheduling of major works of literature at the appropriate historical period. Integration of the two disciplines with their concepts and skills becomes very meaningful to students, who have responded very favorably. The groups of students have ranged from academic to under performing.

Additional highlights of Mr. Peterson's career include: development of composition curriculum for grades 9-12; completion of two Horace Mann grant projects including a research paper guide used by all Norwood High departments and a guide for the use of the video encyclopedia in the classroom. In addition he has developed assessment tools, which provide data from which teachers can provide remediation activities, and he has been an active participant in the local teachers' association.

Kouida Putman, 2016

Kouida Putman, Art Teacher at North Shore Senior High School, Galena Park ISD in the Houston region, has exemplified excellence in education throughout her long and very successful career.  Not only is she an amazing art teacher, she is also a campus leader on many levels at North Shore Senior High School in the Galena Park Independent School District. 
All of the comments from Ms. Putman’s nominators show just how influential she is throughout her school district.  A few examples are:

“I first met Ms. Putman at north Shore Senior High School where she taught me to be a much better teacher.  There is not one educator on the planet I learned more from than her. As the lead mentor for her campus, Kouida knows the craft of teaching forwards and backwards and can help a French teacher with classroom management and a chemistry teacher with lab structure.  It is the craft she knows and can translate to any subject.  Teachers come to her year after year for help and guidance and some of the assistant principals call her the “Momma of the school!”

Another nominator stated, “She is an outstanding teacher who prepares exiting and relevant lessons for her art students.  As an accomplished artist, she is able to provide students with real life experiences as she teaches her lessons.  One of Ms. Putman’s greatest strengths is her ability to work in a collaborative manner with school instructional leaders as well as her teammates.  She takes the lead as department leader and develops lessons that are shared with her colleagues.”

Ms. Putman has continued her own life long learning, which has contributed to her excellence in teaching. She has traveled all over Texas to learn various art techniques from award winning artists which helps her to stay current in her own art endeavors and also bring those techniques to her students.

From her first year Art 1 students to her AP Art Studio pupils, Kouida’s students are motivated by her example and highly successful in their own artistic abilities.  Her students have had artwork auctioned at the Houston Livestock show and Rodeo for an excess of $50,000!

Her list of accomplishments as an artist, a teacher, a mentor, and a campus leader is long and impressive.  She is to be commended on her outstanding career as an educator!

Margaret Reilly, 1993 

There are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, those who wonder what happened.  Margaret  Reilly, also known as Randy, is one of those people who make things happen.

During her twenty one years as a member of the faculty of Norwood High School, she has taught as wide spectrum of courses: United States History, Western Civilization, History of Minorities, Business Law, Sociology, Youth and the Law.  She has composed extensive and comprehensive guides for three courses: Sociology, American Law (standard level) and American Law for college level.  These American Law classes which began with twenty-five students now boast an enrollment of one hundred students.  Through  Randy’s creation of a Law Related Education Board, practicing attorneys are involved in classrooms; the Dedham District Court, and Norwood Schools have experienced increased coordination; and relations with the Norwood Police have been expanded.  Her article on Legal Ethics has been published in  “Update,” the scholarly publication of the American Bar Association.

Randy is a role model for  all  students in and out of classrooms. Her driving commitment to excellence is exhibited in her advisory role to regional programs including the TEC  Spotlight Program at Bentley College and the TEC student leadership action program, Making A Difference,” where high school students developed their own projects including  student mentorships with elementary students  an Aids Awareness program.

Randy has received other awards.  To mention several: a Horace Mann Grant and a Christa McAuliffe Living Memorial Grant for furtherance of her program in law related education. the Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Teacher in 1989 for her efforts as Spotlight advisor and a member of the Alliance against Discrimination.  In 1991, the Massachusetts Bar Association named her “Law Related Education Teacher of the Year”  Her peers have recognized her excellence in education by nominating her for the Goldin Foundation awards.

Lisa Robinette, 2015

Lisa Robinette is a Librarian at Galena Park High School in Houston, Texas. She is an inspirational educator who not only influences students in a positive manner, but uplifts and encourages her colleagues as well.

Words often used to describe Lisa are "significant, involved, giving, creative, and beyond outstanding!" One of her nominators wrote that “Lisa’s involvement always begins with building relationships, providing encouragement, and giving her time and talent to those in need.  The atmosphere in our high school library is like that of no other.”  Another noted simply, “I am inspired by her daily.”  A final quote from one other nominators is “Lisa strives daily to go above and beyond.  She certainly thinks ‘outside of the box’ which makes students enjoy being in her presence.  There are more students in the library during lunch time than in the designated eating areas!” 

In addition to her library duties, here are several examples of other endeavors Mrs. Robinette involves herself with for the betterment of her students and school:

  • Lead librarian for Galena Park I.S.D. providing staff development, technical support, and expertise for the district’s librarians.

  • Sponsor of the Anime Club

  • Sponsor of the Book Club

  • Sponsor of the National Honor Society

  • Campus Key Communicator

  • Campus Webmaster

  • Relay for Life Team Chair for Galena Park High School

Lisa personifies her motto, “Success through Service.” 

Lisa Robinette accomplishes these tremendous successes not only by working hard, but mostly by building strong, meaningful relationships with those around her.  Her general approach is to engage students to become collaborators at all levels of instruction whether it be a lesson in the library or a meeting of one of the clubs she sponsors.  She is genuinely open to students’ informed opinions and eager to learn and grow with the students.

If you call the library at Galena Park High School at most any time during the school day, you will be greeted in a professional and polite manner by a student.  When you ask to speak with Mrs. Robinette, you will be told, “She’s with a class right now.”  That’s what excellent educators do all day…they are with students facilitating their learning and building relationships!

Elizabeth Rochin, 2005

Elizabeth Rochin is a Special Education Teacher at Cupertino High School in Cupertino, CA. “Innovative, inspirational, empathetic, dedicated, and optimistic” are all words people use to describe her. Michelle Avvakumovits, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, describes her as the “glue” of her school. At Cupertino High School, she bonds the staff together, makes educational philosophy stick to teachers' classroom practice, and she adheres students having Asperger’s Syndrome to mainstream classroom and real life experiences.  Overall she just brings everything together.    Elizabeth bonds the staff together with all her beyond the work day effort such as decorating the staff room, making the women's bathrooms on campus a place to talk about, organizing monthly Bunko nights, and heading our social committee responsible for celebrating, supporting, and recognizing our teachers. 

As a staff development team leader Elizabeth presents “Dimensions of Learning” concepts, develops accommodations strategies for special education students, and implements various teaching techniques to meet the needs of all students.  She does this with such passion and eloquence that the concepts and ideas stick with teachers and their daily instruction. 

Trudy Gross, Director of Educational Services,  one her nominators, notes, “Elizabeth has been the driving force in the creation and continued evolution of the Academic Communication Program, which serves the needs of students whose primary challenge is social cognition.  Social cognitive skills are defined as perspective taking, personal problem solving, executive function (cognitive and physical organizational skills) and abstract and inferential thinking.  In her role as case manager, Elizabeth regularly interfaces with her general education colleagues providing background knowledge on the student, reference materials regarding the challenges of the disability, and strategies or support.”  The goal is to connect autistic, Asperger, and students with non-verbal learning disorders with mainstream classrooms, workplaces, and social situations.  Most of Elizabeth’s students have progressed to post high school graduate studies, and the program is now used at numerous school sites.

Elizabeth’s room is filled with compassion, accountability, and thinking.  Her success stories are many; but just like glue Elizabeth, attempts to disappear once used.  Her humbleness is just another example of her greatness.  Without question, Elizabeth deserves the honor of being recognized for her hard work, her inspirational program and her compassion for human beings.  

Maria Rodriquez, 2014
Maria Rodriquez serves as Library Assistant at Galena Park High School in Galena Park, TX.  Maria was born in Los Ramones, Nuevo Leon Mexico.  She was the middle child in a large family.  One of her brothers was a special needs child that suffered from epilepsy and many complications throughout his life.  She said it took her small village and large family to care for her brother for the 33 years he lived.  It was this early experience that taught her to help those in need. 

Mexico only required students to complete a 9th grade education; so she was able to graduate early.  She married her husband Juan and they moved to the United States.  She had two children, Juan and Rene.  She stressed the importance of a sound education as a priority for her family.  She also instilled the importance of helping others.  She modeled this belief by volunteering in the schools her children attended, and helping with various programs and projects.    

Maria began working for Galena Park High School in 2001 after her children had graduated.    She was first hired as a substitute and soon became a full time employee.  She completed the necessary courses and professional conferences to become a Certified Educational Office Professional in 2009.  Currently Maria is the Library Assistant for Galena Park High School. One of her nominators says that Maria not only services all students, staff, and community members in the library, but she regularly assists add departments on special projects, assignments, and activities.  She is also the Parent Volunteer program for Galena Park High School.  The staff, parents, and community members welcome her leadership and appreciate her help.

Maria serves as Interact Club Sponsor.  The Interact Club is a youth service program proudly sponsored by the Rotary Club International and its local connection, the Galena Park/Jacinto City Rotary Club. Maria is the Campus leader of Interact and serves as a liaison between the students, Rotary Club and Galena Park High School.  The service projects that they perform for the community are designed to help the elderly and the needy of the area.  They also perform service projects for the international community.  A nominator described Maria, “As the sponsor of the Interact Club, she teaches each member to be involved and to strive to become a benevolent citizen of our community.  I am impressed not only by her work ethic, but by her desire for and ability to strive for excellence no matter the challenge.  She is a diligent and a dutiful citizen, dedicated to the improvement of her world.” 

This year, Maria, and the students of Interact, supported many projects.  Locally, they provided food to the Food Pantry, collected supplies and backpacks for the elementary children in need, collected and delivered Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to the seniors of the community, and worked with a local Congressman with a campaign to immunize the children of the community. 

International service was supported equally.  The Interact students sold bracelets made by the Children of the Dumps Campaign, in Nicaragua, to help feed the starving children.  The club worked with the Purple Pinky Project trying to eliminate Polio. Interact has an ongoing project with the Rotary Clubs Literacy Project to provide books to needy areas of the world.  With the help of the Rotary Club International and the local Galena Park/Jacinto City Rotary Club, the students collect used books, crate them, and ship them to countries all over the world. 

The current President of Rotary Club noted, “Being an educated student doesn’t necessarily make one a good person, so Maria motivates and educates her Interact Club members how and why they need to be service-oriented people.  She serves as an example, about the basic values like respect, personal responsibility, honesty, compassion, fairness, tolerance, and service to others.  She helps build bridges between the generations and cultures by explaining to the youth about their role in the community, and helping them discover ways to get involved with “hands-on” service projects.  She is respected by her Interact students, her fellow Interact Faculty Advisors, and Rotarians for her work in the community and her commitment to international service.  Maria continues to be a true model of Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self”.”

Maria is not new to awards.  She has been honored with the Dazzling Diamond Award for acknowledgement of a distinguished educator.  This year’s Goldin Foundation Award for Excellence in Education recognizes her as a leader in the community and school that has made a direct impact on the lives of the students, the school, and her community.

Maria encourages students to cherish their education, serve their community, and love their fellow man by giving of themselves.  She is a leader that makes it her life mission to serve others.  She empowers young leaders to think like leaders and make wise life choices.  She guides them into thinking of others before self, with humility and by example she sets.

Thomas Rooney, 2004

Dr. Thomas Rooney is an English Teacher and Department Chair at Needham High School. He was nominated by his colleagues for the many creative and dynamic programs and activities he initiated over the years, most of which still continue at Needham High. Some activities have also been replicated elsewhere. Here are a few examples of the programs he has initiated. Dr. Rooney began a Senior Project at Needham High, a program where all seniors are required to do a project based on their own interests. Initially the project began in English classes and then spread to all subject areas. This complex undertaking involves mentorship and a process of checkpoints monitoring the students' progress. At the end of the year students have to present their individual projects to an audience of teachers and students.

Rooney has also implemented an interdisciplinary Humanities course, one of the most popular courses at Needham High School. This course has not only benefited students who learn subjects from a very holistic perspective; it has facilitated dialogue among teachers across departments.

Tom is the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants. One significant project involved collaborative work with educators in a program on research writing across curriculum areas. He has served as the Needham liaison to the Teachers as Scholars Program and he has been a mentor to countless teachers and students.

In addition to his work at Needham High School, Rooney’s pursuits have extended beyond the public schools. In 1997, he completed a doctorate at BU in English literature, and he had taught at the college level.

Tom’s nominators, fellow teachers and administrators, readily discuss Rooney’s approachable style. “Tom embraces learning with an approach that is gentle, empathic, and comfortable.” He is "easy to be friends with." "Care" and "compassion" are words that are highlighted. Another nominator wrote, "Tom is known for his intellect and his empathy. Scholarly and erudite, Tom has much to share with his students." "Students who experience setbacks or issues that interfere with their learning find solace in Tom's office." As one teacher wrote: "My survival, and even my success, have been largely the result of the collegial cooperation, professional assistance, and easy friendship with this exceptional man."

Dr. Rooney is a person and a great teacher who has no doubt had many accomplishments. His own interests, passions, and a way of looking at the world offers what one might call a worldly approach, and yet with a very keen human and personable touch. It is an approach that is positive, open, and receptive, one that students and teachers feel comfort in and respond to. This process of dialogue allows people to talk across the boundaries of disciplines; it gets students to move beyond the limitations of a book or single idea, fluidly merging and referencing themes of the past in art or music. One might observe such thinking taking place in more scholarly realms rather than at the high school level. It is clear that Tom is a scholar and he encourages others people to be scholars too. His approach in the classroom demonstrates how one can make critical and creative thinking accessible and memorable.

Dr. Rooney will be retiring this year, and there is no that doubt that he will be missed. Like the bridges across disciplines he has created across departments, the dialogue of conversations across a classroom, and in his personal research and application to processes in the classroom, Dr. Rooney has showed and exhibited the potential in education for learning and for teaching.

Marybeth Sacramone, 2016

Marybeth Sacramone’s vision and efforts as Guidance Department Coordinator at Wayland High School in Wayland, MA have led to the creation of many innovative programs at her school. These initiatives make a positive difference for students: Transitions Program, School Advisory, Guidance Seminars, Boston girls’ discussion groups, and Next Steps Workshops.

The Transition Program supports students returning to school after prolonged absence due to illness or hospitalization, so that they can gradually return to the rigors of academics in a safe and supportive small group setting.  Students and families receive emotional support, academic assistance, collaboration with teachers and extensive communication. To guarantee the success of the program, Marybeth provides professional development for the entire school staff in relation to this endeavor.

Marybeth has been instrumental in the development of the School Advisory Program.  Wayland High School principal Allyson Mizoguchi says, “She and her colleagues have shepherded the launch of the program over the past four years and Marybeth’s strong and relevant leadership and perspective, which are always student focused, have no doubt deepened the Advisory Program’s impact on the school at large.” 

Another innovation inspired by Marybeth’s vision is the Guidance Seminars for ninth through twelfth graders. The program spans students’ entire high school career, with each grade’s seminar featuring a curriculum focused on the students’ stages of development. All guidance seminars are available online to students and families.  

Marybeth has created and runs two Boston resident girls’ discussion groups. Special education teacher Mary Bracken reports that Marybeth, “each week creates a comfortable atmosphere where everyone is able to raise issues important to them and their lives as students, always offering the girls the right combination of listening and suggesting.” 

The work of high school guidance does not stop with graduation. Marybeth works collaboratively with Dennis Doherty to run Next Step Workshops designed to help seniors decide what their next steps will be following high school.      

Marybeth has led a school wide effort to reduce stress for students at Wayland High School.  She has worked with the Guidance Department and faculty at large to identify numerous roots of student stress and to create alternative strategies.  These strategies include ideas such as which questions to ask and which to avoid when discussing college choices with students. Simply replacing traditional university pictures in the guidance suite with inspirational sayings has contributed to an atmosphere of positive thinking.

Marybeth Sacramone has a major influence on setting the tone and culture of the Wayland High School community. Benjamin Buffa, a guidance counselor at the school, reports the feeling that has been voiced by so many: “Marybeth is

the go-to person in times of crisis, not only for students, but for the staff as well. She is the official and unofficial mentor for so many faculty and staff at Wayland High School.”

Terri Salsman de Rodriguex, 2011

Terri Salsman de Rodriguex, Spanish Teacher & Technology Team Chair at the Los Altos High School, Mountain View-Los Altos High School  District in Los Altos CA,  is a dedicated teacher who strives to bring creativity, innovation, and technology into her foreign language classroom at every opportunity.  She is a master at enhancing instruction through the use of document cameras, podcasting, SRS’s (Student Response systems that provide immediate feedback and assessment to students and teacher), and the multi-media projector.  Many of these technologies were obtained through grants that Terri wrote.  Barry Groves, Superintendent of Schools, notes, “Working with Teri as she has incorporated ever more sophisticated technology into her classrooms has been a delight. We have seen improvements in curricular articulation around subject matter as well as instructional strategies.  In each case, she has worked with others to develop solutions that are best for kids.”  Terri supports her colleagues in her school district and in other districts with  consultation and workshops.

Sharon Smith, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, comments on her visit to Terri’s classroom.  “I don’t know if any of you are Babylon Five fans like me, but if you are, you already know what technomages are.  If you aren’t a Babylon Five fan, let me explain.  Technomages are characters who are capable of using science and technology to give the appearance of magic.  Now, I know techonomages are fictional characters, but if they really existed, Terri Salsman de Rodriguex would be one.  During the ninety minute class I observed, Terri used a document camera to review the homework so the students could see exactly what she was referring to as she explained the assignment and one Powerpoint with clickers to quiz her students, another (with a timer built in) in combination with small groups and white boards, and a third that allowed groups of students to win points by answering questions. All presentations were controlled by her smart phone, and all provided each student in the room the opportunity to read, speak, and write in Spanish.  It is a given of language instruction that learning a language requires practice, practice, practice, and then a little more practice.  How to provide that practice in ways that students will find interesting so they actually focus on what they’re practicing is always the difficulty.  Terri has come up with a brilliant solution—use the technology students love to capture them.  What I saw was just a small demonstration of Terri’s arsenal of technical magic.  Her students make their own Powerpoints, plus videos and online scrapbooks and anime and podcasts and digital storytelling and more. Terri’s goal is twofold:  teach students Spanish and teach students how to make technology work for them.”

“I also had the opportunity to speak with a few of Terri’s students.  Salvador said the class was difficult, but that he liked the way Ms Salsman de Rodriguex focused on the culture, and that he’s proud that his writing has improved.  Kjerstie loved the cultural experiences and the opportunities to learn things outside of school, to tie the language to art and the real world.  Mya praised the chance to take ownership of her own learning and the freedom to choose from so many options.  According to Alyssa, this class is “living the Spanish way of life, living it instead of just learning it.”  She treasures the freedom of expression that Ms, Salsman de Rodriguex encourages.”

When Terri was younger she thought she wanted to be a lawyer.  But she came to realize that she couldn’t do what lawyers have to do—defend people who aren’t innocent, for example.  So she thought about what she loved: Spanish. And she thought about what she was good at:  teaching.  She says that made the decision to become a Spanish teacher was pretty straight forward.  Becoming a technomage, learning to use every technological advancement to encourage further learning, was a natural outgrowth of Terri’s desire to provide the very best for her students, and the combination is indeed magic

Lynda Samp, 2004

Lynda Samp is a Science Teacher at Dedham High School in Dedham. Educated at the University of Michigan and later at Ohio State University's School of Natural Resources, Graduate Division, Lynda’s teaching twenty-five year teaching career has mainly been in New England. Today Lynda teaches 8th grade science at Dedham High School encouraging, educating, and demonstrating the knowledge, values, and work ethic we want all our children to possess. In addition, she devotes her time and energy to the professional development of her colleagues by conducting workshops, giving lectures, publishing articles, and maintaining a website on the Internet.

Her immediate supervisor who has known Lynda for over 17 years, wrote in part: "Lyn is one of the hardest working and most effective teachers that I have ever seen in my 34 years of science teaching. She is always on the cutting edge of both teaching content and style. Lyn has taught all levels and multiple subjects but her first love is Earth Science where she is easily recognized as an educational leader in this field. She has taught multiple, grade levels and multiple ability levels and has excelled at them all. She has been a mainstay in reestablishing our Science Olympiad team at the high school and is still active in the middle school Science Olympiad group at the state level. Her classroom is always alive with the actions of students having fun doing science. From recreating earthquakes to covering the floor with cocoa to drop rocks into to explore how various carters may have been created on the moon, her classes are always "pushing" students to learn science in a truly meaningful way.”

Lynda has always been at the forefront of integrating educational technology into her classroom. She was a Participating Teacher in the Intel Teach to the Future Program. This program uses the Internet, Web page design and student projects to focus learning in a new way. She was also a Participating Teacher in Project Meet, a program that is an ongoing support vehicle to help incorporate educational technology into the Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks.

Lynda is also a Teaching Fellow in the WISP (Watershed Integrated Science Partnership) Program. This is a National Science Foundation granted program run by the University of Massachusetts at Boston. It involves her mentoring a science graduate student as they help design and run lessons that integrate the local watershed with the Massachusetts State Frameworks. It aims to support, enrich, and advance the existing curriculum.

Lynda is a wonderful teacher and role model for students and other teachers. Her nominators state, “Her drive, dedication and level of subject expertise are extraordinary. She is also a warm caring person. The students quickly learn that even though she's a tough taskmaster she does it with such great love and genuine affection that the students respond in kind. In short she is an outstanding teacher and perhaps an even better person.” “ If I can find a way to clone her I'll do it in a heartbeat and make every school the better for her being there. "

Joanne Schmidt, 2012

Joanne Schmidt is Library Media Specialist at Medfield High School in Medfield, MA.  She is called a magician by her nominators. “Not only does she regularly pull ‘this-is-a-wonderful library rabbit’ out of her magician’s hat, she makes that rabbit dance.  And sing.  And star on Broadway.  Regularly!”

Here are some of Joanne’s creative and significant achievements that have been developed for students, which at the same time provide a sense of community with the library as its focal point.

Ø  Library Resource Scavenger Hunt:  Joanne designed a library resources scavenger hunt to help freshmen to seniors navigate library resources and have an incredibly good time during it.  Using each teacher’s assignment, Joanne tailors her scavenger hunt to fit; and divided into competitive teams, students work their way through the maze of library resource and learn more about what the library has to offer and how to access its resources.

Ø  Café Read a Latte:  For one week every March, Joanne transforms the library into a comfortable browsing room where student visit the café, enjoy a snack, see “wanted pictures” of every teacher’s favorite book, vote for the Academy Awards of Book Favorites, and join a blog about their favorite books. The event has become a tradition. Parents provide the coffee bar everyday for the entire week, and monies generated are used for purchasing new books.

Ø  Friday Showcase Cafes: Once a month, students perform in the library: play an instrument, read a poem, act out a scene from a favorite play, or share a song.

Ø  Nook Initiative: Joanne wrote a grant to buy ten Nooks, digital readers, for the library, which allows students to sign them out to read the latest best sellers.

Ø  JJoanne received an undergraduate degree from Framingham State University, a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and a second Masters in Management Communication from Emerson College.  She spent the first fifteen years of her career as a librarian for Emerson College, and she came to Medfield High School as the Library Media Specialist in 2000. During her tenure at Medfield High School, Joanne has assumed many roles.  She has served as President of the Teachers’ Association President since 2007; she has co-chaired NEASC; and she is an active member of important committees including Leadership Team, Teachers-21, Technology Task Force, Community Service Day for Seniors, Rubric Committee, and many others.

Joanne regularly collaborates with teachers.  Kathleen Nunes, Dean of Academics, comments, “ Joanne has learned all of the techniques of effective instruction that good classroom teachers learn,  She provisions well, makes connection between what students know and what they are going to learn, explains thighs thoroughly, and gives ample opportunity for questions.  Teachers love planning lessons with Joanne.”

One of Joanne’s colleagues and nominators for this award, Ann Marie Sabra says it best in her letter.    “Joanne Schmidt has a direct effect on my teaching.  There are times when I truly consider her my co-teacher.  She provides feedback on my lesson plans, the best tools for me to utilize whether it be for research or technology.  She provides strategies so that my students can maximize their projects, papers, and research.  When I am unsure, I ask Joanne.  When I need more depth and breadth to a lesson, I seek out Joanne.  When it’s not working, I run to Joanne.  She is my resource.”

Carla Sechman, 2010

Dr. Carla Sechman is a Chemistry teacher at Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord. MA. She has made her mark by creating a course called Chemistry in the Community.  The course offers students of all abilities a more hands-on approach that teaches concepts through the examination of local and relevant issues.  It emphasizes the qualitative treatment of the material and features activities in which students apply their chemistry knowledge in decision making situations.  The class has developed into a very popular course that appeals to a wide range of students including, most importantly, those that may not be the strongest science or math students.  In the past, these students would perhaps have never considered taking chemistry.  Carla has succeeded in creating a course where students become excited about chemistry and can see its importance because she applies it to environmental and practical community issues.

Teachers from the Special Education department are certainly fans of Carla’s teaching techniques.  They admire her mastery of the classroom technology, her innovative activities and her contagious enthusiasm for the subject.  She has created a classroom in which all students are engaged, relaxed, and eager to participate.  Her class has a nonthreatening atmosphere that allows all students to risk asking questions or volunteering answers, and within a short time they all have opinions they are willing to share.  Her daily use of technology allows her to periodically check student understanding as class progresses.  Using projects, models, and hands-on activities leads to a lively student centered classroom that is effective for all learning styles and all levels of ability. She has made Chemistry make sense to all her students.

Carla Sechman loves chemistry and wants her students to share this love.  Her enthusiasm is a contagious disease we all hope our students will suffer from.  Her students know that she cares for them as students and people. They know that she wants them to succeed and will do all in her power to help them achieve success.

Cathy Shachoy, 2000

Cathy Shachoy is a Physical Education Teacher at Norwood High School. According to her nominators,” she is remarkable.”  She continues to rise to the challenge presented by one very special person, her daughter Keryn, and has further responded to that challenge by building a program at Norwood High which has enriched the lives of special needs children and those who have become their friends and mentors.   In 1992, Cathy formed the Friendship Club at Norwood High, a club whose members provide academic and social opportunities to high school students with special needs. Through her enthusiasm, hard work, and careful planning, Norwood High students involved in Friendship Club activities have improved community and spirit with special needs youngsters.  Norwood High students serve as “Big Brothers” and “Big Sisters to students in the TEC special needs classroom which is hosed in the high school.   Friendship Club members sit with their special friends at lunch, take them to games, and go shopping with them. A high percentage of the one hundred members attend the regular social events held after school.  The program continues today and present students and graduates often remark how valuable the experience has been to them personally. “We get more than we give.”

Cathy  demonstrates the highest level of professional commitment and competency in her work with students and colleagues. She is constantly broadening her knowledge, improving her skills, and sharing with her peers what she has learned. She is effective with students of all levels of ability and encourages those who are struggling along the way. Her honors include: Physical Education Teacher of the Year, inductee into the Women’s Hall of Fame, and Norwood High Outstanding Teacher, Field Hockey Coach of the Year Award from the Boston Globe.

Cathy is also active in her community. For several years, she has been the Program Director of the Challenger Sports Program for children with special needs in her home town of Mansfield. She also serves as the assignor of tournament officials for the M.I.A.A. South Sectional Basketball Tournament.

An excellent teacher, “Cathy’s flexibility in working with students, teachers, and parents has earned her an enviable reputation as  one who truly cares about people and brings out the best in all kids.”

Steven Lee Shoemaker, 2010

Steven Shoemaker is an English Language Arts and Credit Recovery Teacher at Channelview High School in Channelview, Texas. His  missions are "Graduate the students!  Gear students to attend college or pursue training of skills-based careers!" Steven Lee Shoemaker‘s support and guidance of high-risk students, who are potential drop-outs, have enabled hundreds of Channelview students to realize their goals.  

 Steven treats struggling students, who often have behavior problems and attendance issues, with respect and gives them the tools to be successful.  He does this by going beyond the subject matter, instilling a stronger work ethic, and building self-esteem. Steven spearheads the Credit Recovery program.  When students get behind or fail classes, he works with them to plan how they can pass using the PLATO and API recovery systems.  These are computer programs that allow for individualized instruction. Steven not only keeps track of what class or classes the students take;  he also trails the students’ progress and helps them certify course completion.  Last year out of 119 students who needed credit in at least one class in order to graduate, the Credit Recovery program reduced that number by 83%.

 From Beowulf to Dante to Shelley, students in Steven’s Senior English classes become skilled readers of prose written in different periods, disciplines, and rhetorical contexts.  They also become skilled writers, who compose for a variety of purposes.  Through careful reading and critical analysis, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide meaning and pleasure for their readers.

 Steven has many other achievements Some highlights include

  • He is the faculty advisor for the Interact Club, which is affiliated with Rotary International.  239 students participate in numerous activities during the school year, from blood drives, to “Soles for Souls’ that collects used shoes for children around the world, to selling purple bracelets at lunch to inoculate over 200 children in India against polio.

  • Steven’s in charge of the school’s Recycling project.

  • He volunteers with the Boy Scouts (going to Jones Forest in Conroe, Texas)  by providing an astronomy class to help them navigate using the sun and stars.

  • He teaches in the Houston Community College System, where he developed and teaches philosophy classes online.

Ø   Steven’s contributions to Channelview and the broader community are notable.  He has been a fantastic role model , who has positively impacted the lives of countless numbers of students over his thirty year teaching career.

Sharon Smith, 2003

Sharon Smith, English Teacher and Speech Coach at Los Gatos High School in the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District, is noted by her nominators as an outstanding teacher who has been engaging and encouraging students in Los Gatos for 26 years. Her instruction is “phenomenal;” her interaction with students is “sincere;” and her commitment to lifelong learning and growth is “omnipresent.” Her exhaustive knowledge of students, curriculum, content and resources is an asset to students and colleagues. 

What started as a bargaining agreement in her initial contract has grown into a passion for Speech and Debate that reaches a variety of students. Her team members are athletes, musicians, thespians and journalists; yet they find time to meet for four hours to practice every Tuesday night. 

Being a speech coach requires Mrs. Smith to travel almost every weekend. At tournaments, Mrs. Smith coaches and volunteers in the tabulation room, organizes judging schedules, judges individual rounds and provides support, transportation and an occasional meal for her team. She has been at tournaments with students as close as her own high school and as far as Chicago, St. Louis and New York City. Her understanding of the processes of speech and debate have compelled her fellow coaches to elect her league presidents several times. She has also been a member of the statewide governing board. 

Gary Stockbridge, 2007


Gary Stockbridge is a Social Studies Teacher at Medfield High School, Medfield, MA. He is a man who leaves a positive imprint on all the people he meets. To his students he is friendly, dedicated, and sincere. To parents he is inspirational and helpful. To his colleagues he is motivating and impressive. His gregarious nature and obvious intellect make him a hard person to forget.

Gary is completing his thirty-sixth year of teaching social studies in Medfield. He teaches honors sophomore students in the combined Humanities program of World History and World Literature and teaches a course he pioneered twenty-five years ago, Modern World Conflicts. Gary’s classes are popular and often filled to capacity. Gary leads his students to think critically about historical events and time periods and to consider their own responsibilities as members of our global society. He continues to lead students in their personal growth as the advisor for the High School Politics Club and the school’s Amnesty International Chapter.

Gary is interested in the lives of his students and their intellectual ideas. He brings humor to the classroom and demands excellence in a way that motivates and guides students to do their best. One of Gary’s colleagues referred to his classroom as a beehive of activity. He lets students run with their ideas, but they are well guided along their journey of investigation. Many of Gary’s students use their culminating project from their Humanities course, a 45 minute film or videotaped play that explores a major theme in world history and literature throughout different time periods, when they apply to colleges. This says something to me about the level of pride students obviously have at the end of this six month project. Students work hard, produce exceptional work, and learn life lessons all along the way.

Included in Gary’s nomination packet was a final writing assignment from a student in his Honors Humanities class. At the end of the essay, the student referred to the lessons learned by himself and his peers and wrote, “No matter what, none of us ever found ourselves asking each other ‘When are we ever going to use this?’

Besides his passion for social studies, his wife, and his three sons, Gary is an avid baseball fan. A colleague shared that he has worn a Red Sox jacket everyday since the Red Sox won the World Series. Gary is the head Varsity Coach for the Medway High School baseball team and has run the Tri Valley Baseball Camp for twenty-seven years and shares his love of the game and the important lesson of good sportsmanship to all the campers.

Gary was named Medfield’s Teacher of the Year, and was recognized by the Norfolk County Teachers’ Association with the Warcup Distinguished Educators Award, an award given to just one teacher in all of Norfolk County.  Now, he can add to that list that he is a recipient of the Goldin Foundation Award for Excellence in Education

Natasha Ritchie Thomson, 2013

Natasha Ritchie Thompson, is an English Teacher and Department Chair at Saratoga High School, Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District in Saratoga CA. “She has always been a champion of students, and that devotion has made her a natural leader on campus.”  Nominators noted her ability to advocate for and work with students who are not meeting academic expectations.  She and a group of teachers arranged intervention meetings with counselors and parents to provide a path of return for theses students, and “Natasha handled these meetings with compassion, humor, and sensitivity, while always maintaining high standards.”

Natasha successfully collaborates with her colleagues in the design and implementation of the impactful Media Arts Program.  She provides excellent Language Arts instruction in a program that blends U.S. History and English with a Media Arts elective such as Film, Animation, or Multimedia Journalism.   The program offers students opportunities to create, collaborate, and dig deeper into subjects in which they have personal interests.

Sharon Smith, English Teacher at Los Gatos High School and a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, notes, “The first time I met Natasha was the year we both taught summer school.  Now, summer school English is not an easy course to teach.  For one thing, every student in the program is there because he or she has failed English at some point.  For some of them it’s because they need to work on their skills.  For others it’s because they need to work on actually getting their assignments turned in.  In any case, it’s a group of students who aren’t exactly happy to be spending six weeks of their summer in school.  Natasha had the freshmen, and what impressed me most was the way she managed to make those students so glad to be there.  Let me repeat that:  Freshmen, who were glad to spend a vacation doing English. And the second thing that impressed me was Natasha’s willingness to talk about what we were doing, to collaborate, and to share ideas.  There is, to be honest, a bit of a rivalry between our two schools, but that entirely disappeared when Natasha began to talk about what we could do to make sure our students succeeded.  It made for a great summer of teaching.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I saw Natasha’s nomination.  I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to observe her teaching again.  She is even more skilled than I remembered, but in one sense, nothing has changed.  Her students are still excelling, and they’re still glad to be there.  I was impressed by the depth of understanding she required of her students, not only of the assignment itself but also of their own thinking.  She asked not just ‘What will you do to improve this essay?’ but ‘Why will you make that choice?’  After class, one student was happy to talk about her impressions.  She said, ‘Ms Ritchie gives us all the tools and support we need, but she makes us think for ourselves. She makes it fun to learn.’”

Natasha firmly believes what she models to her students: that with learning, you can do anything.  Her love of teaching came from her experiences beginning her junior year at UCSC when Professor Euben asked her to be a teaching assistant for a Political Freedom class.  She TA’d eight times, discovering in the process that the best way to become a lifelong learner is to become a teacher.  She discovered the pleasure of discussing the material with others who shared her interests, and she found that she loved being not only a part of a community of learners but also being able to lead that community.  She credits Professor Euben with giving her the confidence to do her best and the opportunity to fall in love with teaching.

Donnetta Torrecillas, 2003

Donnetta Torrecillas, is a Mathematics Teacher at Branham High School in the Campbell Union High School District. Through her curricular leadership, has had a tremendous impact on Branham during her relatively brief tenure of three years. Her support of students and her help in building a positive school culture contribute to that impart. She takes initiative to work for the betterment of the school and is a positive role model for students and staff. Branham High School school.  “As a new teacher she took the initiative to help students learn math, and she's also provided staff development," said  Principal Iris Berke. "Her positive attitude and her conviction that anybody can learn math is so strong."

At Branham High School, Torrecillas heads classes in all four levels of algebra, including her newest class, Remedial Algebra 1. Better known as "summer school after school," her remedial class is offered to students who've failed their first semester of algebra and would like to take another stab at the subject before summer begins. She is convinced that students can master the concepts, and to help them do so, she is committed to exploring suitable instructional strategies, and finding or developing appropriate instructional materials to get students to master algebra. Participating students take first- and second-semester algebra classes simultaneously, receiving credit for both.  "This way, they see me every day, get to take the same course over, and don't have to go to summer school if they pass," said Torrecillas.

Ms. Torrecillas has developed a new algebra concepts class for at-risk students to help them master the statewide algebra requirement for high school graduation. She is convinced that students can master the concepts, and to help them do so, she is committed to exploring suitable instructional strategies, and finding or developing appropriate instructional materials to get students to master algebra. 

Ms. Torrecillas took initiative to develop targeted remediation for students who had not passed the math portion of the California High School Exit Exam. She analyzed students’ test scores and came up with a focused remediation plan. She invited juniors whose scores were within possible range of passing to attend small tutorials on the sections of the exam they had not passed. Her strategy of targeted tutorial remediation for small groups of students focused on specific components of the exam could easily serve as a statewide model. It develops students’ self-confidence with the material, test-taking skills, knowledge of their own performance and improvement needed, and a positive test-taking attitude.

In addition to her regularly scheduled classes Donnetta dedicates many more hours to her students and peers at Branham H.S. She coaches Branham's junior varsity softball team., and she advises clubs such as the X-Box Club and a forum for Latina students. In the future she hopes to expand her tutorials into a math club where more advanced students tutor lower level students. Torrecillas also meets with a committee of teachers from Santa Clara ,Alameda, and Monterey counties to develop curriculum and strategies that will help students pass the exit exam.

Matt Torrens, 2007  

Matt Torrens is a  Social Studies Teacher at Saratoga High School in the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District, in the Silicon Valley, CA  region. He teaches Advanced Placement United States History, World History, and Geography.  He is a graduate of Brigham Young University, and is currently completing the final work on his History Master’s Degree at San Jose State University. 

It is a wonder what Matt does for students in addition to his regular teaching responsibilities.  He has been involved as an athletic coach; he has served as the school’s Site Council chairperson for three years; and he is the advisor to the Model United Nations Club, the Cricket Club, and the new History Club.  In addition, he is currently serving as the Santa Clara County coordinator for the National History Day competition.  On top of all of these activities, Matt organizes historical field trips and local walking tours in Los Gatos and Saratoga for students, and he annually takes a group of interested students on a Wild-West experience through parts of Utah and Colorado.

Matt is currently working with a group of interested students and the City of Saratoga to establish a World War II Memorial; and he is a consulting teacher in the District’s Peer Assistance and Review Program (PAR), and a site supervisor for a new teacher through National University.  It is no surprise that Matt was voted as the Teacher of the Year for the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District for 2006.

Bob Lowry, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member comments, “I had the opportunity to observe a ninety-five minute block period of an AP U.S. History class of Matt’s last month.  I was totally enthralled, as he kept his students engaged during the entire period.  I asked Matt if I could sign up for his class!  During the period, he made constant connections with the students. He consistently required that his students delve into higher levels of thinking.  And his enthusiasm was contagious.  In a discussion of the turbulent Sixties, he actually had a young lady don the apparel of a sixties young adult, complete with the peace symbol pendant.  He absolutely brought history to life, as he does on a daily basis with simulations, group projects, and enthusiastic lectures.” 

As Matt’s principal, Jeff Anderson, stated, “Matt also is a lively personality on the faculty who provides a clear voice of reason and a sense of humor when it is needed most.” Gail Wasserman, Assistant Principal at Saratoga High, wrote about the important role Matt played on the Block Schedule Evaluation Committee.  She reports that this committee proved to be a rather difficult one, with strong opinions being expressed by many.  As Gail wrote, “Matt’s contributions were outstanding.  He was able to diffuse some very tense situations while never shying away from important issues.  He has the ability to state strong opinions in a way that does not alienate others with opposing viewpoints.  He is a true leader.”

Ed Turley, 1999

A Guidance Counselor at Walpole High School, Ed Turley is a gentleman, educator, and citizen who has made a difference.   His unwavering dedication to student academic and personal well being, as well as his deep commitment to institutional improvement, have earned him the esteem and trust of colleagues, students, parents, and administrators.  As department head of Walpole High School's Guidance Department for 26 years , Ed has developed and implemented a model for working with students that ensures a personal interview with each student every year.  There is a wonderful comfort level between students and counselors as group meetings plus these individual hour long session encourage a proactive approach whether it is for post high school preparation or other personal issues.

The contribution that most distinguishes Ed Turley is the Walpole Scholarship Foundation, an endowment fund for college bound students, which  Ed founded fifteen years ago.  It was his vision, hard work, and ability to organize the business and civic leaders of the community which make this foundation the impressive student resource it is today.  Bringing these community groups together has had additional results.  One fund-raiser, for example, involved a day of sharing food, crafts, and background by different ethnic groups.  Students, parents, and citizens all had a chance to work for a common goal and had fun  in the process.  Over the years, the foundation has distributed over $750,000 on scholarship monies to Walpole students, and its endowment will provide a lasting legacy.

Ed has served as past president of the South Suburban Guidance Association, of the Millis and  Walpole Teachers Associations.  He was director of the first Walpole Summer Enrichment Program,.  In 1992, he was honored as the Norfolk County Teacher's Association  Teacher of the year and in 1994 he was the recipient of the College board Service Award. He has served on many planning committees ; for the TEC Alternative School at Regis College and Project Spoke.  He is currently Vice President of the Walpole Teachers Association.

Molly Uppenkamp, 2013

Molly Uppenkamp is a History Teacher at Norwood High School in Norwood, MA.

Gail Duffy, Chair of the English Department at Medfield High School, introduced Molly at the Educators Forum. “We all do it.  Let’s ‘fess up to it right now.  We all eavesdrop.  American author Judy Picoult has a theory about eavesdropping.  She says, “Sometimes it’s the only way to learn the truth.”  As a member of the Goldin Foundation Advisory Board, I’m in a unique and quite wonderful position to eavesdrop on educational excellence by reading the packages that are part of the nomination process.  And I agree with Judy Picoult.  You really do learn the truth.”

Molly’s colleagues and students commented on her excellence as a teacher.

  Watching her work with her students has motivated me to be a better  teacher and mentor.

  She teaches a class so popular students need to apply and get in queue to take it.”

  I know someone who is, without a doubt, one of the best and most dedicated teachers in our entire school.

  Her department chair notes, “She teaches to improve children’s lives.  She’s passionate, funny, intelligent, and energetic.  She wears skirts with tables on them.  She never wears the same earrings in her ears, and she’s great and caring and always goes ‘above and beyond.”

  A current senior proclaims, “She is a cornerstone of the school.”

  Another student adds, “She is a light on a stormy sea.”


Molly, in her fifth year of teaching at Norwood High School is a member of the Social Studies Department, Advisor for the Debate Club, and Co-Advisor for SADD.  She is leading the charge in a new civics elective this year where students spend the first half of the year participating in the “We The People” arguments at Harvard University and then works with Norwood community groups.  Students  use 21st Century problem solving skills and try to take the very good town of Norwood and create an even better community.  

Gail Duffy concludes, “When I met with Molly, what struck me most is that you’d want to meet her too.  When she was born, I somehow picture the doctor cradling her into Molly’s mother’s arms and announcing, ‘It’s a girl.  And a teacher.’

With a BA in history and a BS in Social studies, time spent at Oxford University and a Master of Arts degree from Tufts, Molly is an inspirational force, ready willing and passionately able to create opportunities for students.  She shared with me that she wants students to understand that what they do and what they say is actually important.  I guess the doctor was right.  Recognizing that it is what students do and what students say that actually is important is the hallmark of excellence in teaching.”

Lynn Walton, 2005

Lynn Walton is a master teacher in the field of mathematics at Westmont High School in the Campbell Union High School District. Her principal at Westmont, Owen Hege, says in his nominating papers: “Although in her 35th year in education, Lynn daily portrays the vigor and enthusiasm of a teacher new to education.” He goes on to speak of her connection with students and the enthusiasm for learning they display in her classroom. Indeed, the hallmark of Lynn Walton’s teaching philosophy is making students know that she is genuinely interested in them!

Lynn’s interest in teaching goes back to her roots in Connecticut and her college education in Marietta, Ohio. She chose a teaching assignment in Annapolis, MD where she taught for 15 years. Later, she came to California with her husband and taught 15 years in the San Jose Unified School District. In 1997, while teaching at San Jose High School, she received the “Educator of the Year Award” from the California League of High Schools. Though she has only been at Westmont for 5 years, she has taken on multiple leadership roles. She has served as Advisor to the California Scholarship Federation and Co-Chair of the Faculty Club with her colleague Randy Heinricksen. She is presently Secretary of the Teacher’s Association. A few years ago, she took on the huge job of being a chair for one of the committees in the WASC accreditation process.

But Lynn’s real passion lies in her classroom teaching. Though she has taught every level of math from 7th grade through pre-Calculus, her current assignment is Geometry and Trigonometry. Lynn has devised a host of projects designed to teach the student, not just the subject, as she says. She connects with her trig students in assignments such as the “Article of the Week” in which the students read and write about a math topic in the newspaper. In fact her students write about math in their journals on a regular basis. She motivates her Geometry students with assignments on the “College of the Week” in which students research data including the number of students enrolled, costs, and mileage from Westmont High School. In connection with her job as CSF Advisor, she and Randy take a busload of students on a trip to southern California to tour several colleges in the area!

Nominators note that “Lynn makes an effort to talk personally with each student every day. She goes to as many school sports and music events as possible in order to find some connection with each of her students. Imagine what a better world this would be if every single teacher adopted this one goal of Lynn’s – to talk personally with each student every day!”

George Watson, 1994

As Chair of the Foreign Language Department at Walpole High School, George Watson is recognized for being a master teacher in his own classroom, a strong departmental leader, and an active leader in his school, community, and state and regional foreign language associations.

Mr. Watson is committed to the growth of all students, regardless of ability. He is responsible for the addition of a Spanish I course to meet the needs of those students who are studying a foreign language in high school for the first time and who have been identified as being at risk academically. A fellow foreign language teacher who studied under Mr. Watson at Bridgewater State College, states, " Mr. Watson is truly an expert at creating a non-threatening environment in his classroom. He works hard at involving all students in class activities. He perseveres with students who are struggling and is very sensitive to students who may feel embarrassed about participating in class. He is a teacher who appreciates the diverse learning styles of his students; and as a result, his classroom activities are varied and designed to tap into these different styles."

Mr. Watson has been involved in many projects which have had a positive impact on others. Highlights of activities include:

  • He has collaborated with the Social Studies Department on a number of interdisciplinary programs, including an Immigration unit, a project on the
    Bicentennial of the French Revolution and another on the "Quincentennial of the Encounter of Two Worlds."

  • He has been the impetus for bringing foreign language study to younger students, implementing a new exploratory program in French and Spanish for sixth graders.

  • He continues to be an active participant in MCET satellite broadcasts.

  • He has been instrumental in the development of a student exchange program with Spain.

  • He has promoted cultural awareness throughout the school system of Walpole. Each week high school Spanish students travel to elementary schools to tutor students whose primary language is Spanish. Also, fifth year Spanish and French students travel to all the elementary schools to introduce students to a foreign language.

  •  As foreign language chairperson, he is supportive of his staff, encouraging their professional development. He worked with his teachers to develop proficiency based instruction at a time when few other language departments were implementing such programs.

Nominators reflect on the "dynamic personality and wonderful sense of humor that George Watson brings to his students. "His class has a quick moving pace" that fully engages his students. This enthusiasm, energy, and dedication are conveyed with his continuing search for improvement as a teacher whether it be by attending foreign language conferences, discussing methodology with his peers, reading professional literature, and teaching at Bridgewater State College. George has been a major factor in the development of a strong foreign language program in the Walpole School System."

Richard Weingartner, 2005

Richard Weingartner, Theater Arts Teacher at Wayland High School, empowers kids. He facilitates a discovery process for his students.  From intensive exercises and thorough study into history, culture, and society, they learn about themselves and the world around them.  As Fine Arts Director Jane Ezbicki notes, “ It is hard work and sometimes frustrating for students who find it easier to be told what to do instead of using their higher order thinking skills to figure it out for themselves.  The result, of course, is that the students not only develop lifelong skills in writing, directing, tech design, and building, but also decision making, self-discipline and confidence.  This takes place in both classroom and on stage.  Communication Studies is more that a speech class; it is about how society communicates with each other.  Film Studies is not just about the history of movies, but a complete study in heroes, story writing, and film direction.

Referring to a course Performance through Shakespeare, that was Richard’s brainchild several years ago,” co-teacher Allison Mizoguchi comments,  “Abiding by his belief that all kids can both understand and connect with Shakespeare, Richard challenged our students’ intimidation of these lofty plays and permanently dismantled their ‘Shakes-fear.’ They didn’t simply memorize lines; they entered the world of these plays.  They swung swords at one another; they performed a forensic study of King Duncan’s murder; they set Juliet’s suicide to music.  Our students went on a journey through Shakespeare’s works – and their relationship with these texts -  that has deepened their literary repertoire and granted them confidence in their own imaginations.”

In Richard’s mind and practice, everyone in a theatrical experience is important.  There is never a “typical” school musical or play where there are simply star leads and chorus members.  Everyone is essential.  Everyone has his or her own character and presence and purpose. This attention to building upon each student’s strengths is evident in classes representing students who might include the wrestling star, the actress, the alternative kid, the transfer student, and the student with Down’s Syndrome.  Expectations are high, and Richard emphasizes letting go and building up. Each of Richard’s classrooms represents a safe and creative place.  There is a high level of mutual trust and confidence.

Richard’s after school activities as theater director and advisor include over nine productions each year.  His students also are involved in writing and producing original plays, which are presented at the Emerson College Drama Festival. He has been a guest teacher at Northeastern University and the Boston Arts Academy as well as other schools in the area.  Last year he formed the Metrowest Theater Collaborative, a group of area high school theater directors.  Besides sharing ideas and materials, the group has created a Monologue Festival for students.  Many of Richard’s students have pursued theater arts in college, and some are now professionals. For many years, student interns from Emerson College have been mentored by Richard and have become teachers themselves.  In addition to these many activities, Richard has written many of his own one and two act plays.

In summary, Richard’s colleagues, students, and friends feel fortunate to recognize this exemplary educator, who is called a “gem” by his peers.  

Miranda Whitmore, 2010

Miranda Whitmore is an English teacher and coach for several sports teams at Medfield High School.  Among her nominators, students express it best:

“Before every class she gives us opportunity to talk about her weekends or anything exciting that has happened, which serves as an outlet in school before delving into the deep subjects that she dares us to think about in her class involving humanity’s purpose, religion, and heroism.” 


“The setting she creates in her classroom is where everyone is encouraged above and beyond and think, ‘why does this matter?’ ”

“Whether it is working harder during track intervals or doing extra research for a paper, I strive to put enthusiasm into everything I do.  Ms. Whitmore is known for her ability to lead and challenge students without using overbearing authority.  She teaches by example. She’s one of the few coaches who runs all the workouts with the team.  I can recall many races where hearing her scream out times has caused me to run faster and fight any urges of breaking down and giving up.”

“As students , we are not ‘just kids’ to her; we are individuals who have an exciting future, and she sincerely cares where we take that.”

Miranda feels equally connected to all of her students, from Honors level seniors to seniors who have learning issues. She is passionate about her charge to help all of them develop into solid citizens, engage them intellectually, and keep the academic and empathic bars appropriately high.

Her creativity is evident. Imagine this scenario coming directly from Miranda Whitmore’s high school English class.  She’s giving an assignment after reading Shakespeare’s Othello that incorporates abstract, artistic interpretation and an analytical written piece.

“We’ve noticed how characters are talking about a handkerchief, looking for it and trying to interpret its meaning.  Unfortunately the handkerchief cannot speak and explain itself- until now. Imagine that it actually has something written on it by that old sibyl, the friend of Othello’s mother.  One of your tasks is to represent the handkerchief in some way, and try to make your method of representation significant.  If you believe it is magical, make it look magical.  Connect it to the play. Another task is to write on the handkerchief what you think it would say if it had a voice.  Would it give advice about jealousy or love? Would it tell everyone to stop giving it so much authority?  Would it whisper its magic in someone’s ear?  Ancient Moorish wisdom, perhaps?  From its privileged position, what would it have to say about the events that have unfolded around it?  What would it say about race roles, sex roles?  You can write your analytical discussion in prose or poetry or imitate Shakespearean language.  Imagine what the handkerchief would say to at least two characters. Relate your writing to the themes of the play and give evidence using specific events or scenes.”

A role model as an athlete, mentor to her runners on and off the course, and teacher par excellence, Miranda supports and empowers her students.

Lorraine Witzburg, 1998

Lorraine Witzburg, a teacher who has produced extraordinary achievements, has chaired the Foreign Language Department for the past ten years, in which capacity she introduced the National Foreign Language Examination Program, with every foreign language student taking the exam.  Among the other new offerings for middle and high school students which owe their being to Loraine are: Latin, five year sequences for French, Spanish, and Latin; and the Advanced Placement course in French.

Lorraine offers her students valuable class activities and projects.  An example is the 4th year interdisciplinary project for French 5 Advanced Placement Class for seniors.  The course is infused with 19th Century French culture and art by having each student investigate the life, artistic style, and techniques of a French artist.  After researching the artists, students visit the Museum Of Fine Arts in Boston where each student presents information on his/her artist while viewing his paintings.  The presentations are all done in French; in fact the students must speak French the entire day.  The culminating activity is a visit to French restaurant for a gourmet meal.

Another aspect of Lorraine’s contribution to the students of Dover-Sherborn High School is her steadfast opposition to prejudice, injustice, and violence; and her commitment within both school and community to the values of diversity and toleration, an ethical stance which she communicates most effectively to her students by precept and by example.  Her influence extends beyond her own classes because, in the words of one of her nominators, “……the entire building is her classroom.”

Lorraine demonstrated her devotion to her profession early, winning the designation of Most Outstanding Foreign Language Student at her Fairlawn New Jersey High School and graduating from Wellesley College, Phi Beta Kappa.  She has become well known in her school and throughout the communities she serves so well for her academic rigor and kindness, her insistence on nothing but the student’s best and her willingness to work individually and outside the limits of the school day to ensure that fine work is in act forthcoming.

Carol Ziemian, 2001

Carol Ziemian is a English/Journalism Teacher at Dedham High School.   According to her nominators, she is "extremely dynamic, creative, energetic, knowledgeable, ethical, talented and undaunted. She has made an extraordinary impact both in and out of the classroom."

As newspaper adviser and journalism teacher, Carol has helped hundreds of Dedham High students become better writers, thinkers, and communicators. Many of her students have gone on to become professional writers and editors. For twenty years she has tirelessly advised the high school newspaper, The Dedham Mirror, which has received numerous awards in a range of local, state, and regional competitions. Carol served as editor-in-chief of a system wide quarterly newspaper, Spotlight, which for seven years was sent to all Dedham residents. Showcasing students' work, she improved the school system's public image, cultivated support for education, and enhanced her students' self - esteem.

Carol continues to use public relations as a means of promoting public schools and education in general. Writing a weekly column for the Classroom Pages of the Neponset Valley Daily News, she highlights student learning and achievement and timely issues such as class size, technology, critical thinking, story telling, and mentoring. These thoughtfully balanced pieces are well read; in fact, copies of one of her columns was recently sent by a school administrator to families in his school district urging them to support lower class sizes for elementary teachers.

Carol's journalistic expertise is extended to other teachers and students from other schools. Recently she served as guest lecturer on "Journalism in America" at UMASS Boston for the Chukyo American Seminar, a program for Japanese exchange students. She has taught minority students at a summer program at Regis College; and she has presented at the NESPA Convention at Boston University, the Yankee Pen Conventions at Boston University and UMASS Boston. She continues to regularly help organize various regional events in order to better train students to become journalists.

A professional educator, Carol has collaborated with Dedham High's English Department team to research new strategies for reading, writing, thinking, and knowing. This activity has led to development of a new curriculum for Freshmen English students, a number of workshops for teachers, and presentation of her research with two other Dedham High teachers at the Annual National Conference of Teachers of English Conventions in Colorado and New Mexico and publication of an article in the English Journal.

Clearly, Carol's students, colleagues, school, and community have benefited greatly from Carol's professionalism and dedication.