Award Recipients - Middle School     

Sunila Abraham

Debby Arienti

Chelsea Zea Armann

Joy Bautista

Lynn Moore Benson

Nikki Blanchat
Judith O'Rourke Carmody

Leslie Codianne

Brian Conroy

Sara Cummins

Nikki Dincans

Eleanor Donato

Christine Dupuis

Jennifer Eisenberg

Meredith Faletra

Patricia Fountain

Ashleigh Fritz






Carl Gersten                    Debra Pinto 

Robert Gracia                  Judy Powers           

Ranesha Graham               & Claire Regan   

Larry Greco                    Jean Pybas

Evren Gunduz                 Sharon Regner

Misty Hartung                 Kim Roslonek 

Mary Martha Hesseler    Jennifer Rudolph

Elaine Higgins                 Rachel Schaumberg

David Hitchcock             Barry Siebenthall

Michael "Hans"               Deanna Silvi

  Kalkofen                       Sarah Straub

Gerald Kazanjian            Jane Tuohey 

Nicola Kennedy              Joyce Wilson   

Charissa Korobov           Jane Yavarow        

David Kujawski

Kerri Lorigan               

Jamie Lyons                 

Charles MacLaughlin         

Janet Maguire         

Barbara McEvoy                          

Tim Meadows                             

Marie Mele

Amanda Naeger

Aidan O'Hara











Sunila Abraham, 2014

Sunila Abraham is a sixth grade Neuroscience teacher at the Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan Middle School in Houston, TX.   She has implemented a program that was “the first of its kind in the nation.”  The course she teaches, involves a series of five Brain Link Units designed to advance the knowledge of the brain and the nervous system.  According to Michael Vu, Senior Program Manager from The Baylor College of Medicine, “Ms. Abraham brings novel ideas to present very difficult information to sixth graders that utilize cutting edge instructional technology such as interactive software that illustrates the human brain.” 

Her innovative instructional learning experiences show her great vision and mission oriented nature.  Her role is to lead students of the Baylor College of Medicine Academy to success through the innovative integration of the newly integrated neuroscience curriculum.   Some of the units she teaches the sixth graders include:  exploring the body systems, creating models of skulls and the human brain, comparing mammalian brains, simulation of the effect of chemicals on the brain, and the understanding of the significance of sense organs.  She integrates her content with Latin, social studies, reading and language arts, and biological concepts like cells, tissues, organs, and the organ systems. 

The principal of Ryan Middle School where she teaches says that Mrs. Abraham is a twenty first century teacher.  Her strengths include: “strategic planning, efficacy/growth, stakeholder engagement, continuous improvement and accountability, data disaggregation, high performance, vision, and the use of mission-oriented components.”

Mrs. Abraham has quite a professional resume’.   She holds full certification in Texas, North Carolina, Florida, New Zealand, and Australia.  She graduated from Mahatma Gandhi University in Auckland in New Zealand. 

In addition to her teaching duties, she collaborates and assists teachers with technology support and she works with the Reading teacher to incorporate Alice programming where students are “able to create wonderful virtual worlds relating a variety of plots and stories.  She is also a member of the Houston ISD-Discovery Education Teacher Leader Corps.

In spite of her demanding schedule, she finds time to assist others.  Mr. Vu describes her as “the most humble, generous person one could work with.”  She takes time to work with students before and after school and during her lunch hour.  She is also available to help other teachers and works on innovative ideas for her classroom.  She “exemplifies the best qualities of an educator.”

Debby Arienti, 2014


Debby Arienti is an Adjustment Counselor at Hopkinton Middle School in Hopkinton, MA. “Students First” sums up her beliefs and actions.­ Debby doesn’t just work in a middle school,” says her principal Alan Keller.  “She chooses middle school because she recognizes the importance of the middle level years in the growth and development of young adults; and she sees tremendous potential in each of them. And Debby makes incredible connections with her students.  She makes each interaction count, and she skillfully guides her students in this period of transition.”

As the sole adjustment counselor, Debby works with some of the school’s most difficult students who have a wide range of mental health and behavioral needs.  She helps students with school phobia overcome their fears and develop strategies for consistent attendance; she counsels students who are very anxious about social issues by creating opportunities for them to learn from others; and she supports families by meeting with them and providing additional resources.

Transitions are important, and Debby has been very creative in responding to needs.  Here are some highlights.

  • When 8th grade girls were struggling with peer groups with social and behavior issues, she created a lesson that had high school girls come to the middle school to meet with small groups of 8th graders.  They discussed how to deal with aggression and how to make better connections with their peers.

  • She started a Divorce Group for students whose parents are divorced or separated.  Open to all students, Debby provides a safe and comfortable environment for them to come together and talk about their issues.  Students can opt to come on their own, or Debby takes recommendations from teachers to issue invitations.

  • She coordinates and facilitates a lunch group for students who need various supports.

  • Debby provides outreach to parents.  Colleagues note that “she brings enthusiasm, professionalism, and poise; and she is a trusted resource and confidant.

Debby works closely with other educators and school teams.

  • With the school psychologist and speech and language pathologist, she initiated a Social Skills building-wide group called “Middle School Confidential.”  This program for grade 6 expanded to grade 7, and there is potential for merging it with grade level academic counselors in a co-treatment level for all 3 grades.

  • Assuming an active leadership role in her school, Debby is a member of the school’s Crisis Response Team and Threat Assessment Team.  She led the school and district in creating a protocol to help schools respond to school emergencies, and she instituted the Behavior Support Team whose purpose is to support and provide resources to students whose behavior is interfering with their success.

  • Using the TEC model of a job-alike group for high school counselors, Debby coordinated one for middle school counselors in area districts to regularly come together to discuss issues and concerns that are present in their towns.  Members of the group brainstorm solutions to problems and share resources to provide the best supports for children.

Debby received her undergraduate degree from Boston College and a Masters in Counseling from Assumption College.  She is certified as a School Adjustment Counselor at all levels, School Guidance Counselor for grades 5-12, and is a MA Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Debby is a kind, compassionate, and thoughtful lady who has the unique ability to see the whole picture, meet the needs of her students, and share resources with her colleagues.

Chelsea Zea Armann, 2011

Chelsea Zea Armann is a Grade 6/Read 180 Teacher at the Moreland Middle School, Moreland School District, in San Jose, CA. She is recognized for her unwavering dedication in playing a key role to close the achievement gap and transform school culture at her school.  In 2009-10, she piloted the Scholastic Read 180 Program, which provides reading intervention classes for at-promise students who were not meeting grade level standards. The program continues in 2010-11; and students have made significant gains in reading fluency, reading comprehension, and vocabulary development.  

Karen Allard, her principal, notes: “Chelsea’s daily lessons are motivating, and they provide the rigor that allow each student to rise to his or highest potential.  Ms. Armann is a champion for students, and she understands the needs of adolescents as they struggle to overcome developmental hurdles and indecision makers.  Her classroom community is built on a strong foundation that encourages students to take risks, to think critically, and to share their ideas and strategies.  Students feel safe, and they know that Chelsea is committed to their learning.”

Sixth grade students in her classes this year are also showing steady progress towards meeting grade-level standards and are gaining academic confidence in their reading and writing skills. One student shared, “She pumps us up and makes us feel like we can do a good job before we even take the test.” Other sixth graders commented, “She makes us laugh and tells us that we are doing a great job.” “Our scores are getting higher, and she believes in us.”

Chelsea has pursued her own professional development by attending numerous training and workshops in literacy development.  She shares her knowledge with colleagues and educators from other schools by modeling lessons and facilitating several department meetings throughout the year.  She has served as a master teacher for student teachers in the credential program and has volunteered many hours mentoring and supporting them. She also serves on the district Literacy Committee and the Benchmark Steering Committee.

Chelsea continues to raise the bar and set new sights for teaching and learning. Her nominators note that she is an exceptional educator, and her passion for teaching is evident in everything she does. “Mrs. Armann is an out-of-the-box thinker who approaches new ideas with a discerning perspective that questions,  ‘Is this best for kids?’ and then takes action.”

Joy Bautista, 2012


Joy Bautista serves as Science Teacher at the Boston Arts Academy, Boston Public Schools,  in Boston, MA. According to her nominators, “Joy is an innovative, interdisciplinary teacher, who looks for new ways to teach content so that it is accessible to all learners.  She believes that problem-based, inquiry-based learning helps to level the playing field for urban students by presenting complex problems for students to tackle in their unique ways.  Joy acts as a coach in the classroom, encouraging students to use their minds well.  Whether students are proposing ways to reduce fossil fuel use, solving a medical cast study, or using the theory of natural selection as inspiration to create art, she finds that students are more engaged than with traditional teaching methods.”


Principal Linda Nathan, referred to her “irrepressible enthusiasm in the classroom.” Another nominator, Kimberly Conrad, an aspiring teacher whom she mentored said “Her belief in me, in time, became my belief in myself,” a statement that reflects that Ms. Bautista not only cares about her current students, but wants to help new teachers begin their careers with the enthusiasm that she has herself.   

Joy is now or has been involved with many initiatives in her years at the Boston Arts Academy; and she has had enormous impact upon her students, fellow teachers, as well as her community

  • With her colleagues she piloted the Museum of Science 9th grade engineering curriculum.

  • She collaborated with Children’s Hospital to test the effects of the National Institute of Health’s Brain and Addiction curriculum on student behavior and life choices.

  •  Joy and her colleagues developed a new arts-integrated STEM curriculum that the Boston Arts Academy calls STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math)

  • She takes her students to BU’s City Lab where they experience a bio-engineering lab experience, and she takes her engineering students to Tufts University’s Day of Engineering where they learn about engineering study at the college level.

  • She helped BAA develop the school’s Summer Reading Program that helps students build and develop reading skills, and in addition serving as the Summer School’s Principal for two years.

  • She has served as a Cooperating Teacher and Mentor Teacher through the Tufts University M.A.T. Program, and overall she has mentored 7 teaching interns.

  • She leads the schools SAT Prep program.

  • In addition, Joy is currently teaching a class for Tufts University on teaching science in urban settings.

  • She serves as advisor to the Asian-American Student Club.

Charles MacLaughlin, Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, comments,   “All this and a three year old son……the list goes on.  Joy Bautista is a remarkable educator; someone whom all educators, especially those at the Boston Arts Academy, its faculty, staff, and students can be truly proud. What I have mentioned is only a part of the full picture that this amazing educator has done in working with her students and fellow teachers. Joy was inspired to become a teacher by Prof. Ted Sizer of Brown University where she received her undergraduate degree and as she said to me, ‘When I was twenty-two my goal was to start my own school.’ I think in many ways she has done that. She and her colleagues have worked together to ensure that their students at BAA have the best support, curriculum, and opportunity to be successful. I am inspired by her tireless efforts; she makes me wish I was starting my career over, with her as my mentor.”

Lynn Moore Benson, 1997

Lynn Moore Benson is a Teacher of French at the Wellesley Middle School. As noted by her nominators, she is a skillful teacher who embraces in her beliefs and her behavior the concept that all children can achieve at high levels. As a full time teacher of French she has an extensive repertoire of strategies to meet the broad range of needs of all her students, including drama, technology, and real life applications that build motivation and extend the possibilities for student expression.

Lynn's work with technology has been trend setting. Her efforts and leadership in this area have led to making the world language classrooms and experiences more interesting, engaging and interactive for students. She has been consistently asked by textbook publishers to try out prototypes of new technological tools and curricula, for which Wellesley Middle School has received entire sets of interactive French and Spanish CD ROMS in gratitude for Lynn's excellent teaching, sharing her work at conferences, and providing input to the publishers. One state of the art program allows students to watch and listen to videos of native speakers, record specific phrases from the videos, and receive immediate feedback by allowing students to hear their pronunciation followed by the native pronunciation of the same expression. This program has accelerated the rate at which students learn listening and speaking skills.

Every one of Lynn's discoveries of what materials have worked have been immediately shared with her Wellesley colleagues, even to the point of her becoming an on-location technical writer, authoring "how-to" simplified guides that enables both teachers and students to deal with new computer software and hardware and their fears about them successfully. Students have become quite comfortable using other creative applications of technology such the Internet to gather information about French speaking countries and dialogue with students in some of these countries. They use Hyperstudio software, and Aldus Persuasion software in which student can incorporate maps and other visual materials into their reports and create slide shows which illustrate the students' knowledge. Of particular note was Lynn's involvement last year as the only national school pilot for a video editing software. Lynn has been emphasizing video for years as a method for having students gain a better understanding of the French language.

"Lynn is foremost her students' greatest advocate, with interest in their schooling going well beyond the French they will learn, and that learning is considerable," says Peter Haggerty, colleague and former supervisor. Her preventative and preemptive approach translates to working with students at the first signs of struggle. Several years ago, she volunteered to host an afternoon study center in her classroom providing a daily setting for support and enrichment. Every year she donates her time and expertise to organize a trip to Quebec over the Memorial Day weekend. As advisor to the French club, she has been known to bring students to homes in Wellesley to cook a complete French meal improving their knowledge of French culture and language during a weekday evening.

Over the years Lynn has served in many roles including middle school World Language Coordinator, member of the middle school faculty Senate, chaperone for summer study and travel programs in Europe, coordinator of the system's International Baccalaureate Program, and Co-Editor of a Curriculum and Instruction Newsletter. In 1988, she was a recipient of the Mass Foreign Language Association's Award of Excellence in the Teaching of French.

On her desk is a statement that can been seen by all. "Vision is having an acute sense of the possible. It is seeing what others don't see. And when those with similar vision are drawn together, something extraordinary occurs." Lynn Moore Benson is an educator who has vision and shares that vision with others.

Nikki Blanchat, 2010

Nikki Blanchat , as Dance Team Director, Student Council Sponsor, and now 7tyh Grade Counselor Intern at Crosby Middle School in Crosby, Texas,  influences the lives of her students not just in the classroom, but in their personal lives as well.  She has created a successful program for her dance team that stresses five key elements of success.  Confidence, commitment, creativity, cooperation, and consideration are the star success keys that have enabled this teacher to instill the values of being responsible young adults in her students.

Unlike other sports, a dance team’s season is year round.  This teacher maintains a busy schedule.  She teaches dance during the day, holds after school practices, and attends evening and weekend events.  She has also served as Co-Sponsor of the Crosby High School Student Council for the last seven years.  A tireless promoter of Crosby High School and Crosby ISD, she helped organize Crosby’s Annual Community Pep Rally to promote community support and community involvement in programs throughout the district.

One of the educators nominating this educator had this to say:“All the reasons stated thus far would justify awarding this fine educator for the Goldin Award for Excellence in Education.  As a teacher, Dance Director, and Student Council Sponsor, she has the ability to solve problems which arise with students.  As a department chair and committee member, she is an effective mediator and consensus builder with other teachers and staff.  However, it is her ability to connect with students that make her an exceptional educator.  She is involved in the lives of her students and she makes a positive, lasting impression upon them.” Another nominator summed it up by saying, “She helps define the climate of the campus and community.”

This positive connection also opened other doors for positive interaction at the Middle School this year.  This educator’s ability to connect with students and interact with parents and staff made her the obvious choice for a counseling position at Crosby Middle School.  It has allowed her to expand her positive influence and share her exceptional abilities with another campus.  Just as she does for her dance team, she is also helping to create a supportive and caring environment for students at Crosby Middle School.

This educator truly leads by example with her five keys to success:  confidence, commitment, creativity, cooperation, and consideration. Nikki Blanchat exemplifies the qualities of the ultimate e

Judith O'Rourke Carmody, 1992

Judith O'Rourke Carmody teaches 8th grade math at Wellesley Junior High School. According to her peers, Judy wants students to not only understand the principles of mathematics, but to love the beauty and dynamism of the discipline. Her goal for students is to expand their knowledge and appreciation of how math ties in to real-life situations, careers, and other sciences.

Recognition is given for the unit Judy developed called "Making Connections." Judy states, "Mathematics is very logical and constantly building on previous knowledge. I want the students to be constantly looking for patterns and relationships as we strive for understanding. It is then possible to see the extension or further application of concepts in so many other situations." Students develop Independent Math Projects and are encouraged to follow personal interests in choices of topic and medium of expression. They gather research and materials, plan and organize these projects, and make presentations to their cooperative learning group and then to other groups. The breadth of subjects is great - from learning how optical illusions work and drawing them on a Microsoft program, exploring probability, learning about the stock market, and relating math and nature. Student evaluations are enthusiastic and note increased awareness of math as part of their lives.

"Judith is able to motivate and excite all students from the most talented learners to those less confident." The guidance department uses Judy's collaborative teaching with a Special Education teacher as a model of how co-instruction should function. Her classes have an environment that fosters risk taking and exploration, and her classroom is a safe, fun place where students are supportive of one another. Judy utilizes cooperative learning where students having different learning styles work together and have appreciation of various approaches to the same problem.

Standards for excellence are high. Judy's efforts led the school into offering algebra to ninety percent of 8th grade students. "As a result of her tireless efforts, our school will eventually serve as a model to others in our state of what middle school students are able to achieve in math," concludes William Atherton, Department Head of Math and Science.

Leslie Codianne, 1991

Leslie Codianne, a Special Education teacher at Holliston Middle School, is recognized for her leadership in the design and implementation of programs that mainstream all special education children into regular classes. Leslie coached her peers, modeled teaching strategies for them, rewrote curriculum and communicated the goals of mainstreaming special education children. Following her lead, the entire Middle School now offers integrated classroom opportunities across grades and course.
Leslie team-teaches regular science, social studies, and language arts classes with other teachers. Co-authoring a science project called “Discovery: Sail and Survival,” Leslie has developed a hands-on curriculum which includes units on navigation, sailing, orienteering skills and the actual building of model sailboats. The goals of the program were to develop navigational and survival skills taught in the Voyage of the Mimi, providing students with opportunities for problem solving and independent thinking. The focus of the social interaction needed to engage in these activities provided students with opportunities to postulate and test rules in order to be successful in their environment. Leslie often came back to school in the evening to help the students and parent volunteer construct their models. She also took the students each week after school to sail on a nearby lake. The project has developed collaboration among the school, parents, and business community.

Endorsements from her peers note: “Mrs. Codianne is a dynamo of serene energy, an advocate for all children in need, not just for the identified special education population. She has maintained her role as Chairperson of the Student Government Association. No other teacher has had the positive influence in bringing about change in the classroom and curricula that she has had. She is an outstanding teacher who establishes a learning environment that is enjoyable for the students while incorporating standards of excellence.”

Brian Conroy, 2009

Brian Conroy, a Theater Arts Teacher at Moreland Middle School in the Moreland School District in San Jose, CA is regarded by his nominators as  "an inspiration to students, teachers and administrators...personally vested in his students...charismatic...everything he does is meaningful, personal, and memorable.  There is no end to his generosity and enthusiasm. He personifies "excellence in education."

Brian has been an elementary and middle school teacher for twenty-six years.  From his love of creative writing and public speaking, he has developed an elective program in the Moreland School district that is unparalleled.  His is no ordinary classroom; a large stage complete with curtain and backstage "green room," dominates one end of the classroom.  There are professional lights, a sound booth, and a vast collection of costumes and props.  Brian reaches out to adolescents of diverse backgrounds and educational levels.  His compassion, contagious enthusiasm, wealth of experience in the areas of writing, public speaking and theatre arts, and his passion for teaching inspire Brian's students to explore their creative talents and develop personal confidence.  Each year he writes, produces, and directs two plays in which any Moreland Middle School student may participate.

In an effort to encourage students to overcome their reluctance to speak in public, Brian volunteered to teach a zero period speech and debate class for eighth grade Gifted and Talented students.  The curriculum centers on current events and controversial issues, and it provides students with the opportunity to confidently express their opinions in public.  Brian also organizes and facilitates the Annual Moreland School District Speech Tournament for fourth through eighth grades.   This contest allows students to hone their verbal communication skills and gain invaluable experience speaking before a panel of judges from the surrounding community.

As an active teacher-leader, Brian has presented workshops focused on writing, mentors new and veteran colleagues in the writing process, and is a member of the School Site Council and the Moreland School District Strategic Plan committee.  An avid runner, he has coached the cross-country team and is currently organizing a school-wide recycling and environmental awareness program.  In addition to his work at Moreland Middle School, Brian teaches storytelling classes, creative writing, and literacy courses at San Jose State University and for the San Jose Writing Project.

Each and every day, Brian actively promotes a climate of achievement, fosters a caring school climate, and accepts no limits on the learning potential of any child.

Sara Cummins, 2010

Sara Cummins, Art Teacher at Cameron Middle School in Framingham, MA provides outreach to many in her school community.  A few examples:

“Sure, you can send some students for some extra art classes.”  They happened to be troubled youngsters, who needed some positive reinforcement.

“Let’s collaborate on your French project.” Last year, Sara worked with the French teacher and her class.  After reading a book about an African boy’s journey toward literacy, students incorporated major themes about Africa in a creative banner that won first prize and now hangs in the French embassy in Boston.

“Does anyone have any extra metal hangers, paper towel rolls, old sneakers?”  Colleagues never know what Sara’s latest email will request, but they know that  the “stuff” will be put to good use.

Nominators of Sara Cummins, the art teacher at Cameron Middle School, state that she is an “amazing teacher, person, and professional, who provides her students with the knowledge they need only in Art, but in life as well.  Kids blossom in her classroom.  Through art appreciation and exploration, Sara teaches students 21st century skills: visual literacy, creativity, risk-taking, self-direction in planning and executing an idea, effective use of real-world tools, and cultural awareness.”

The only art teacher in her school, Sara teaches 480 students. She is a master at getting all children excited about art.  It might be a difficult child who is recruited to be her assistant to help other students, students who are developmentally delayed, physically challenged students who are supported in creating meaningful artwork; and highly talented students who win Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards. “Art is for everyone,” she declares; and she proves this everyday in her classroom.

Sara's contributions to the Cameron School community are enormous.

·     Student work is everywhere – in the halls, library and front office. The school has the look of a high school that has a concentration in the arts.  All of the work exhibits thoughtful expression, knowledge, and exploration using many different art forms. The self portraits of 8th graders amazingly exhibit their personalities.  The Japanese artwork using watercolor and India ink incorporate many cultural icons that the students choose.  These are both graceful and striking.  Students even create an “artist’s stamp” and sign their names in Japanese, using the computer for translation. The huge wave mural of a well-known Japanese artist is a product of students, who are especially chosen to work together and develop social skills.

·     Sara and her students have provided murals and ceramic wall art for the school and imaginative sets for the school plays.

·     She co-teaches an after-school Art Club.

·     She is one of the school leaders who integrates technology into her classroom, using Moodle software with her students, encouraging them to chat with one another about art themes, take quizzes, and research ideas for their artwork online.  She also shares this knowledge with staff.

Sara uses her lessons and interpersonal skills to really connect with students   As a result, they develop strong social skills, develop individuality, and become model citizens to one another.  A positive role model, she provides her students with numerous opportunities to realize both their apparent and hidden talents.

Nikki Dincans, 2012

Nikki Dincans is the Reading and Language Arts Teacher and the Read 180 Coordinator at Spillane Middle School in Cy-Fair ISD,  Cypress, Texas.

Nominators of Nikki state that she is a standout teacher and cite her exemplary qualities:

  • has true compassion for making her students want to learn and most importantly making them believe in themselves.

  • focuses with great detail on the individual needs of each of her students

  • uses innovative approaches to motivate her students

  • has unbelievable commitment to her students and education

ü    Nikki creatively developed  Spillane’s Reading Café,  a learning environment which encourages struggling middle school readers and furthers their love for reading. Volunteers include parents, high school students, faculty members, and community mentors, who spend time with their students once a week. They are carefully matched by Nikki.  Students get to work on their social development, practice their reading skills, and gain confidence.  Impact has been great with significant gains by the students.

Karen Mazzola, Academic Achievement Specialist, describes the Reading Café experience.  “As the café opens, all who enter are warmly welcomed by the environment created by Ms. Dincans.  The use of lamps arranged around the room, the casual groupings of furniture, the café-like décor, and the self-serve snack and drink draw you in.  Within minutes the room is quietly buzzing with activity as students greet their reading buddies with smiles on their faces and a sense of confidence that is not often seen with a group of at-risk readers.  As the reading buddies settle into their favorite seats, it is awe inspiring to witness the interaction that ignites.  The students, some reading several grade levels below their current grade, some tripping over words as they struggle with dyslexia, and others needing only minimal assistance, begin to read aloud with pride in themselves and constant encouragement from their reading buddies.  At the end of their time in the Reading Café, the volunteer buddies are invited to write words of encouragement which are tucked into special folders that the students look forward to opening the following day.”

Nikki has shared her expertise with others. Successfully implementing the district goal to incorporate the  Achieve 3000 Teenbiz Reading program in middle school classroom, Nikki opened her doors to other teachers by allowing vido-taped segments to be shared  Her model was also utilized during a district leadership training.    Nikki has also worked with the school librarian to utilize a reading program that uses trained therapy dogs.  She is a trained screener for students with Irlen Syndrome and has been influential in assisting teachers on the campus to recognize students with this problem.  Nikki assisted teachers of math lab, a support class for struggling math students, using the successful model she established for reading.

Eleanor Donato, 2007

Eleanor Donato, a Grade 6 Geography Teacher at the Watertown Middle School, MA personifies ”community.”  Community – it’s an invisible thread that weaves through a school to make it more than a place for transfer of knowledge –– one that draws people together in support of one another. Though this thread may be unseen, it does not happen without design. Creating an environment where children are nurtured requires a great deal of effort and care. This kind of support can’t be measured by standardized tests, yet can make all the difference in a child’s experience.

Eleanor’s nominators voices resoundingly agree that she makes a profound impact well beyond the sixth grade. They comment, “Eleanor gives time, love, care and kindness to everyone around her. She leads a life devoted to finding a need and filling it.  We can attest to her kindness, thoughtfulness and the inspiration that we all receive from the model of her generosity and boundless energy”.

Her nominators praise Eleanor academic projects; her service to students, mentoring support for new and pre-service teachers, and her many projects for community outreach. According to one nominator, “Mrs.Donato has nurtured decades of Watertown children and teachers and her acts of giving have touched thousands.”

Just one example of Eleanor’s commitment to the community is her initiation of the school’s “Pennies For Patients” Drive.  Her nomination from colleague Jim Duffy, who was also mentored as a new teacher by Eleanor, speaks of how she began the drive as the school community was grieving the sudden death of a young teacher, Peter Clough, to Leukemia several years ago. Under her leadership, the fundraising efforts have brought the students and community together through a series of events, and have led the region in raising funds to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma.  Pam Bourke, former WMS teacher and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society representative notes that the Watertown Middle School is one of the top five schools in the nation participating in the program. She explains, “ Most people don’t realize how much time and work this drive involves; over seeing the collection of this much money is a daunting task, but Eleanor has accomplished this with a great spirit of warmth and generosity.” This year’s drive was concluded, raising over $20,000 for research.

Eleanor’s nominators also tell of her support of colleagues on a more personal level.  Kara Conceison is a graduate of the Watertown Middle School, who became a social studies teacher at Watertown Middle School under the tutelage of Mrs. Donato. She shares a moving story about working with Mrs. Donato as a student teacher, how Eleanor would pick her up every morning at 6:15 and drive her to work, later taking extra measures to support her when her own mother passed away, and again when Kara was ill. She says, “Mrs. Donato has led a life devoted to others. Not only does she take care of her own five children; she also takes care of Watertown’s children and faculty.”

As a geography teacher, Eleanor is very successful in interweaving knowledge of the world and its regions, weather, and resources with current events.  She motivates her students, who come from a wide variety of places and represent many different cultures, to become highly involved in classroom and school activities.

Christine Dupuis, 2013


Christine Dupuis is the Band and Orchestra Teacher at Cameron Middle School, Framingham Public Schools, MA. She exemplifies what a really good teacher is. She has an unwavering dedication to her students and to music education; she has a phenomenal level of patience and caring, a contagious enthusiasm; and most importantly, she holds to the belief that all students can be musical, can learn an instrument, and find success her in classroom.  It is this belief that drives Christine Dupuis.

Dedication     Chris embodies what it means to be a dedicated educator. She puts on 13 concerts each year to a sellout crowd.  She has students performing around the community such as at the Mayor’s breakfast, tree lighting ceremonies, and at elementary schools. She gives up her lunch and prep time to give her students small group music lessons.   She has lead district wide professional development, created the first middle school Jazz band, and has set up a program in which former students come back to Cameron Middle School and help current students with their instruments. In addition, to support the arts, Chris is the technical director of all theatrical production at Cameron Middle School

Patience and Caring    Most of the 70 students in Chris Dupuis 6th grade band had never picked up an instrument before coming to middle school.  In addition, her 6th grade classes are a mix of students who play the drums, trumpet, guitar, saxophone and many more instruments. Her students are just as diverse.  Chris teaches students with learning, behavioral, and physical disabilities. However, despite the challenges Chris approaches every class and every student with a tremendous amount of patience and genuinely cares about them. She guides them to success.  What starts off as a cacophony of sound soon develops into beautiful music. Chris strives to know all 210 of her students on a personal level and within her classroom creates a safe place for students to fit in and be involved.

Enthusiasm     To say that Christine Dupuis is enthusiastic about music education is an understatement.  Her enthusiasm is infectious to all: students, staff, and audiences.  Everyone watching her concerts finds themselves clapping, singing, and dancing along. When her Jazz band performs at lunch, Chris dances and sings throughout the cafeteria until all the students are on their feet participating.  She brings energy and exuberance into everything she does and student and staff alike are drawn to her.

These examples of dedication, patience, caring, and enthusiasm certainly make Christine Dupuis stand out amongst educators.  However, in going back to her belief that all students can learn music, we find what really makes Christine Dupuis an educator of excellence.  That, yes, she believes that every student can be successful, but her students believe it too.  Christine Dupuis has taught them how to believe in themselves.





Jennifer Eisenberg, 2007


Jennifer Eisenberg is a Literacy Specialist at the Cameron Middle School in Framingham, MA.

During a recent visit to Jennifer’s classroom by one of the Goldin Foundation Board Members, Jennifer was found to be warm and gentle with a charisma about her that is instantly appealing and unforgettable. She is approachable and caring and engages each and every child in her lesson as if each and every one of them was the only student in the room and her lesson designed with just them in mind.  When Jennifer introduced a poem about the Harvest Moon to her students , she told them that she loved this particular poem so much and that she was excited to be able to read it to them and share it with them.  ."Each time I read it I hear something new”, she told her students 

Jennifer's accomplishments are many; she designed a "Heart of Language Arts" comprehensive guide for all students in the Framingham Schools. One of her school wide reading challenges culminated with visits to area colleges to inspire her students to higher education.  She designed a ten step process to prepare students to answer open-response questions with MCAS prep in mind.   A fellow teacher wrote, "Cameron Middle School was the only middle school in the Framingham district to reach annual yearly progress in English Language Arts, a goal set by the state, and this is in large part due to Jennifer's determination and hard work with all of our students." 

Jennifer Eisenberg's accomplishments as an innovative and creative educator distinguish her as excellent and exemplary. Ms. Eisenberg's students will long remember her, her dynamic lessons and personal connections to them. 

Meredith Faletra, 2008

"Tireless, noble, collaborative, talented, dedicated, devoted, compassionate, fearless, patient, hopeful, nurturing, and persistent" are just some of the qualities of Meredith Faletra, as described by her colleagues. Meredith is the lead teacher for a TEC classroom of five students in the Cameron Middle School in Framingham.  Her students have multiple intensive special needs that require many strategies to help their development of communication, socialization, and cognitive skills.

 Meredith truly believes in mainstreaming her students.  She seeks a variety of opportunities to integrate them into as many social studies, language arts, technology, and arts classes as possible. Her dedication to her students has made a positive impact on the entire student population of the Cameron Middle School.  She has developed a program of student volunteers who assist her students during homeroom, lunch, recess, class time, and cooking class.  These volunteer students assist with transporting Meredith’s students from their vans in their wheelchairs to their classroom, the cafeteria, to recess and they participate in many of the TEC classroom celebrations. 

Meredith also involves her students in the community by taking them shopping at the mall and local grocery stores.  She takes them camping and enrolls them in swimming lessons.  She teaches them about the joy of giving by helping them make gifts for their families, bus drivers, and school staff during the holidays.  She assisted them in writing letters to children in Iraq.  She also initiated a program where her students made dog biscuits and delivered them to dogs at Buddy Dog Animal Shelter.

 Another example of how Meredith teaches her students much needed and very important social skills is by having them help out in the school office with sorting mail.  She also has arranged for some of her students to attend nighttime dances.  The happiness seen on their faces as they listen to the music and move about the dance floor is amazing and rewarding.

Meredith Faletra is a talented, gifted, and extremely committed educator who has a deep passion for providing students with special needs with multiple opportunities to participate in the culture of the Cameron Middle School and in the fabric of our society.  She also promotes that students with challenges can contribute in meaningful ways. Meredith has definitely succeeded in providing the entire school community with a lens to see her students as productive peers who contribute to the rich environment of their school.  She has taught everyone in her community an important lesson about toleration and acceptance.

Patricia Fountain, 1992

One of six award recipients, Pat Fountain has been a teacher of math and science at Holliston Middle School for twenty years. Pat used what had been a pilot project five years ago to bring computer networking and interactive satellite learning to her classes; and she has encouraged all of the other 5th and 6th grade teachers to integrate these programs into all the classrooms.

According to her peers, Pat has an ability to impart excitement and love of learning to all her students regardless of their special needs or talents. She combines cooperative learning strategies, individual and group experimentation, telecommunication projects through the Boston Museum of Science and the National Geographic Society, all of which capture the interests and curiosity of students as they learn about the relevance and relationships among math, science, and social studies in their everyday lives.

Pat goes beyond her duties as a teacher, spending countless hours with students after school with personal as well as academic problems. She is the volunteer advisor to SCAT, "Students Concerned About Tomorrow," an after school science club for students in grades 4 through 7. This group has recycled the schools' white paper and juice boxes, purchased acres of rainforest, adopted whales, planted trees, landscaped the front of the middle school, conducted a yearly hat and mitten drive for the needy, and most recently competed in "Marsville, A Cosmic Village," a problem-solving event sponsored by the Challenger Institute. With SCAT members and Boy Scouts, Pat is coordinating an effort to establish a nature trail and outdoor classrooms on conservation land behind the middle school.

"Every so often a teacher comes along who has the innate ability to motivate children to go beyond themselves and reach for higher goals. Pat Fountain is a motivator, an instructor, and a mentor to her children."

Ashleigh Fritz, 2011

Ashleigh Fritz is a 6th grade math teacher and grade-level chair at YES Prep Public Schools West Campus in Houston, Texas. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of Denison University, Ashleigh began her career in Alief ISD through the Teach for America program.  After two years there, she was encouraged by a fellow Denison graduate to apply at YES Prep, where last year she led her students to a 100% pass rate on Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills [TAKS], with an impressive 72% of her students being commended. Recognizing her leadership abilities, school director Ellen Winstead appointed her grade-level chair, a position she uses to encourage, develop, and mentor other teachers.  In addition, Ashleigh served as summer school principal.  Chris Barbic, founder of the YES Prep program, considers Ashleigh in the top 5% of the over 200 teachers in their system.

Ashleigh Fritz has demonstrated through her dedication, enthusiasm, individualized lesson plans, home visits, and leadership the characteristics that motivate students to succeed not just in school but in all that they do.

Carl Gersten, 2003

Anyone who might know how it feels to be fearful about learning a subject like mathematics will probably know the effect which one caring and creative teacher can have in dispelling those fears for good by replacing them with experiences of fun, motivation, and challenge. Carl Gersten is a a math teacher at the Lincoln School in Brookline whose all around excellence in teaching has earned him recognition among his peers, administrators, students and their parents.

Carl’s energy, creativity, dedication, professional achievements and clearly exceptional teaching abilities have resulted in a remarkable level of student engagement, both in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities. Barbara Shea, Principal of the Lincoln School, describes Carl as “an outstanding educator who inspires youngsters with his passion for mathematics and dynamic teaching strategies.” She tells of the feeling of being swept away by a “remarkable synergy that exists between teacher and students where his fun yet highly sophisticated projects motivate his students to think, talk, and breath mathematically.

His nominators praise Carl’s ability to make math applicable to many aspects of the world of students. They tell of students dressing in toga every March 15 to celebrate Pythagorus Day when they teach the famous theory to younger students in the school. They tell of students singing the quadratic formula; using clever mnemonic devices; mathematically calculating the probable height of the ladder upon which Romeo could reach Juliet; and countless twists and applications of his specialty.

Carl’s efforts extend far beyond the classroom. A coach of the Lincoln School’s Math league and Math Counts Team, he spends many hours extending his students’ learning. He met often on Sunday nights with a group of former students in conjunction with his work of developing a math workbook, which is currently being published.

Carl’s nominators note his many professional accomplishments as a mentor to new and student teachers, as a teacher of graduate interns at Simmons College, and many efforts collaborating with other teachers, including a faculty math team.
It is clear that Carl’s love of math, his professionalism, his dedication, humor, understanding of students, and his ability to capture their imaginations with unique and clever curriculum are laudable achievements. Yet no teacher can be more honored than by the success and engagement of their students.

Robert Gracia, 2004

Dr. Robert (Bob) Gracia is the full-time guidance counselor at the Heath Elementary School in Brookline. Heath has a student body of 386 children and 75 faculty and staff. He is the team leader and coordinates all special education services, chairing many TEAM meetings and leading the Pupil Support Services team’s weekly sessions.


Other responsibilities include the registration of new students, meetings with parents, and counseling children on a one-to-one basis and in small groups. Bob works very closely with teachers, does observations of children, teaches conflict resolution, anti-bullying, and teasing units, and serves as the co-chair of the Child Study Team. Lastly he is a key member of the school’s Administrative Team, a member of the Crisis Team, and has been an active participant on numerous system-wide committees.

Bob has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Boston College with a specialty in Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy. He received a BA in Psychology from Colby College. In addition to his work in the Brookline Schools, Bob is an Adjunct Professor in the Counseling and School Psychology Department of the University of Massachusetts in Boston.


Dr. Gracia’s nomination for the Goldin Foundation Award for Excellence in Education was endorsed by his school principal, a Brookline Special Education Administrator, and a dozen teachers from the Heath School. He is described as “the epitome of the caring adult,” “a mentor in his work with children,” and “ an exceptional man who brings a genuine, human touch to his work.” There are so many examples of his effectiveness and success in his position offered by his colleagues and supervisors that only a small percentage of these are listed below.


Bob Gracia has served the children, staff, and parents in Brookline for more than thirty years. During these years he has treated all with respect and dignity, served as an adept and experienced coach, and taught children how to make good choices and take responsibility for their actions. He is a skilled listener, works long hours (before, during, and after school), and treats all with whom he comes in contact with the utmost sensitivity and professionalism. He is n advisor, confidante, and supporter to people on a daily basis, a leader, an inspirer, and a friend.


In summary, Dr. Robert Gracia has become a moral beacon at the Heath School, a skillful builder of consensus, a school leader, and a valued colleague. His professionalism, work ethic, and tireless dedication are exemplary. While many perform the same functions which Bob does in numerous schools in countless towns, his supporters feel that not many perform them with the same care, love, honesty, and optimism which Dr. Robert Gracia has exhibited day in and day out for thirty-plus years.


Ranesha Graham, 2015

Ranesha Graham is a teacher and coach at W.C. Cunningham Middle School, Galena Park ISD in Houston Texas. Ms. Graham has been a force as she coordinates the 504 program, coaches 8th grade volleyball, basketball, and track.  In addition, she is the Special Education Case Manager, the co-sponsor and choreographer for the Sapphire Dance team, and she serves as the assistant lead for the poetry PTA night.  Also, she has travelled around the world using her miming abilities. 

As one of her colleagues points out, she lives the motto, “Students do not care what you know, until they know that you care.” Because Ranesha develops a personal relationship with the students, she is able to push the students to do their best and doesn’t sugar-coat what they need to hear.  She has the ability to calm students who are having behavioral problems; she can be direct with students who need re-direction; and she helps students who are faced with difficult situations - yet they still love her because she they know she cares. 

Assistant Principal, Barika Norris, says, “Her connection with students helps them understand that she wants what is best for them and will help them succeed in any way that she can.”  Another nominator states that “Ranesha has a heart of gold that truly cares about students’ academic and social well-being. She is recognized at the faculty meetings almost monthly due to students writing about how she has impacted their lives.

Larry Greco, 2011


Larry Greco, seventh grade Math Teacher at the Weston Middle School in Weston, MA,  finds ways to make math easily accessible, relevant and fun for honor level students as well as struggling students.  A master at differentiating instruction, he engages students with multiple examples, challenging exercises, and an occasional joke or two. Larry created an Algebra course that is proving to be a great addition to the curriculum. The class challenges students to understand concepts that are not usually taught in middle school.


Robin Cicchetti, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member who visited Larry’s 7th grade math class, enthusiastically comments, “I had the pleasure of spending some time observing Larry, who started the class with a warm up exercise: ‘Drew put $800 in the bank. He will receive 4% interest compounded annually. (That means they figure the interest at the end of the year and give it to him.) If he leaves it alone and doesn’t touch it, how much will he have after 3 years?’  I don’t know. I don’t have a clue! Students scramble for calculators. Less than 30 seconds later the first ‘Got it!’ is called out.  30 seconds!  2 1/2 minutes later every student in the room is done, and they all have the answer. I’m still sitting there amazed that Drew is able to leave $800 sitting untouched in his account. Larry’s students are totally focused, and the room is filled with a forest of eager hands, vying with one another to answer the question. There is one correct answer ($899.89), but over the next few minutes Larry has his students demonstrate that there are actually 3 ways to find the answer. He calls on the quiet ones who don’t have their hands in the air as well as the math dynamos. He really knows his students. What I witnessed in Larry Greco’s classroom was joy. Students were learning in an educational environment that was as joyous, affirming and fun as it was challenging and rigorous.”


Larry Greco is an educator who invests himself deeply in understanding every one of his students, how they learn, and their potential as learners. Jane Clayton-Matthews, a Guidance counselor at Weston Middle School, tells how Larry would visit her office to review report cards and standardized test scores to understand his current students in terms of how they performed the previous year and what they may be capable of. She says, “He looks at their strengths and challenges in other areas of the curriculum besides math. He brings these questions to meetings where students are discussed. In my 27 years as a middle school guidance counselor I have never encountered a teacher who examines general performance data in quite this way.”

Larry’s positive attitude affects both students and colleagues. Aidan O’Hara, 7th grade house director, notes, “With no exception, Larry can articulate a student concern like no other, and offer insight to better serve our students as a 7th grade teacher team. His thoughts always include incredible intelligence, empathy and reflection.” Many nominators note that Larry sees the good in every situation and helps others understand struggling students by focusing on their strengths. He knows the value of being positive and leads by example.

Serving as role model and mentor, he inspires others.  Andrew Kerwin describes his mentoring experience with Larry. “Larry has helped me in more ways than I could possible describe. He has shown the power of differentiating instruction so that I can apply my lessons to different learning styles, but more importantly he has shown me that making lessons meaningful doesn’t require making them any less fun. “

Larry dedicates his summers teaching SAT prep in his hometown of Arlington where he lives with his wife Susan, and raised their two children.  He consults with McGraw Hill on Math textbooks and teaches summer school at the Carroll School in Lincoln.

Evren Gunduz, 2009

Evren Gunduz, Grade 8 Science Teacher at the Hopkinton Middle School in Hopkinton, MA  has many diverse interests, from art to soccer, music to science.  Teaching science to middle school students allows him to incorporate all his passions.  He weaves music into his teaching by rewriting current pop songs with science lyrics.  His students can be heard singing about forces and energy as he accompanies them on his guitar.  Clearly, Evren sets up a classroom that is full of active learning and learners.  To further illustrate this point, his students build life-sized hover-crafts which they ride down the school hallways.  That is student engagement at its best!


Mr. Gunduz remains equally busy outside the classroom.  He is the coach of the 8th grade boys’ J.V. soccer and basketball teams, and the assistant coach to both varsity programs.  He is the Washington D.C. trip coordinator for about 250 8th grade students.  He attends all concerts, dances, musicals, and ski trips that his students are involved in.


But the area that Evren is perhaps most noted for, is his leadership program called, “IGNITE.”  In this program, 8th graders become positive leaders in the school. They welcome the incoming 6th grade students to their new school.  The younger students are mentored by members of  “IGNITE” and show improved self-confidence, peer respect, and less school anxiety.


Misty Hartung, 2004


Misty Hartung is a Special Education teacher at RJ Fisher Middle School in the Los Gatos Union School District  in Los Gatos, CA.  She inspires!  She has a passion for teaching, a love of children, and the ability to pull everything together and make it work!  She is an advocate for all students and is creative and responsive in finding solutions to problems.


Misty was born to teach.  It was during her own middle school years that she realized she wanted to become a teacher.  In her home state of Washington she participated in a program developed to target future teachers and began on-the-job training in middle school.  Misty has been working in classrooms for either credit or a salary since her own 8th grade year.


Misty currently teaches Special Education 7th and 8th grade language arts/history core classes and a reading class within the Resource Specialist program at Fisher Middle School in the Los Gatos Union School District where she has been employed for the past six years.  In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she serves as the Special Education Department Chair, provides educational services to students as a home teacher, and is acting as mentor for a teacher enrolled in a Special Education internship program through San Jose State University.

According to Ken Lawrence-Emanuel, Misty’s principal, “Misty has been the catalyst for many positive changes at Fisher Middle School.  Over the past three years, the Special Education program has evolved thanks in large part to her vision and hard work.”  Misty hand schedules over 100 Special Education students into their classes, sets the schedule for the instructional assistants, and acts as the representative for Special Education to the Student Study Team.  


Misty frequently provides training sessions for the entire staff, preparing them to deal more effectively with their special needs students.  She was instrumental in organizing the Special Education Parent Night series which sponsors monthly meetings for parents on topics of high interest.  Counselor Dana Steele remarks, “Misty Hartung is a ‘one-in-a-million’ teacher!  She exemplifies all that administrators, students, parents, and colleagues hope for and more.  Misty consistently brings extraordinary skill and energy to R.J. Fisher Middle School.  Her commitment to students and colleagues is a powerful reflection of her work ethic.”  Vice-Principal Jim LaTorre adds, “In a nutshell, Misty ‘Does it all’ in support of our students.


Mary Martha Bauman Hesseler, 2015

Mary Martha Hesseler, Grade 6 Mathematics teacher and 6th Grade Mathematics Course Leader at the West campus of the YES Prep District, Houston, Texas, is a teacher that gives 100% every day to each of her students.  Her enthusiasm for teaching and for learning is contagious, and she has made a definite impact upon her campus and students.

Her nominators note that Mary Martha is one of the most impactful teachers in terms of student achievement.  In her 2nd year of teaching, 93% of her students passed the STAAR with 30% earning “Advanced” ratings.  This year she is striving to ensure that 100 % of her students pass the STAAR test.

So how does Mary Martha and her students accomplish this? ….. by creating a culture of learning in her classroom, holding high expectations of student achievement, analysis of student data, and by using intense instruction that addresses the needs of the students.

Some highlights of her success:

  • Rigorous teaching and expectations of her students.  Her classroom has a culture of learning and high expectations.  She emphasizes critical thinking skills by creating collaborative and exploratory lessons that develop true understanding of math concepts.

  • She encourages changes in the mentality of students towards difficult materials.  In order for her students to excel in 8th grade Algebra, she has structured her curriculum to prepare students for the higher level math classes and lead them toward a love of learning mathematics.

  • Actively promotes meaningful discourse in the classroom through strategic planning and systems.  She uses data on a daily basis to make instructional decisions and meet the individual needs of her students.

  • Mary Martha centers her teaching specifically for future needs and to help them become “Pre-Algebra Ready”, as Pre-Algebra is the mathematics course that they will take in the 7th grade.  This in itself is quite a feat, because many of her students come from a variety of different backgrounds and are at a variety of different academic levels with a variety of different needs.

  • Using a system called “Student Achievement Forecasts”, Mary Martha designs plans for every student to succeed.  When it is determined by the forecasting system where the student fits instructionally, she designs a curriculum to address specific needs of each student, offers one on one instruction, offers after-school tutorials, and provides lots of purposeful practice. 

  • She has created a culture in her classroom that is accepting and continuously makes connections with her students.  She embraces the small things that make school a second home for students. 

  • As 6th Grade Mathematics Course Leader, Mary Martha leads the 6th grade math content team that includes all 6th grade math teachers across the 13 campuses in her district.  She provides support and feedback in all areas of the math instruction and curriculum. 

Mary Martha lives her school’s motto, “Whatever It Takes”.

Elaine Higgins, 2007


Elaine Higgins is a Grade 6 Science Teacher at the McCall Middle School in Winchester, MA.  In Lanie’s classroom, students don’t simply learn about science.  Lanie crafts experiences and experiments that actively engage her students in a wide variety of “hands on” activities.  She believes that students learn by doing.  She develops constantly changing scenarios for her project so captivatingly called CSI: Creative Science Investigation.  Lanie provides experiential learning opportunities by taking her students on valuable field trips to explore Boston Harbor, the Museum of Science, New England Aquarium.  She has even had them involved in testing the pH and overall water quality in the river that runs through the town center. 


Retired scientists come into Lanie’s classroom with demonstrations and experiments to share their love of science, to help the children to understand that science is relevant to the world today and perhaps to inspire these youngsters to someday pursue a fascinating career in scientific work.  Lanie strives to differentiate instruction so that in a single lesson there can be as many as five different activities going on, each tailored to the needs of various students.


One would think that it would be enough for one person to be an extraordinary teacher, but not so for Lanie.  She is the Curriculum Director for the Middle School Science Department, an active member of the Professional Development Committee and an invaluable member of the district’s Science Program Review Team.  As co-advisor to the McCall Community Service Club, Lanie juggles such projects as knitting for shelters, organizing the collection of 800 Toys for Tots, cleaning up the environment in school and in town and singing for elders.  She is a role-model for her students: she volunteers her own time in a variety of community service projects in Winchester and beyond.


Lanie has written for and received nine grants for her school, from creating a butterfly garden to research in learning styles and  “Bringing the Ocean Indoors.”  She is a colleague in the true sense of the word, sharing her passion for teaching through formal workshops on current strategies and methodologies as well as in informal discussions of best practices.


Does this teacher rest during the summer?  Maybe, but first she runs a summer camp for 8-12 year olds, and last summer, she taught a two-week “Cool Science Club” with advanced students.


All of her nominators mentioned this teacher’s knowledge and love of her subject matter, and her ability to actively and meaningfully engage her students in their learning, but in addition, each one of her colleagues, as well as her principal and assistant superintendent, stressed that, more importantly, Mrs. Higgins knows well and loves her students.  Here are a few excerpts:  “Her students always come first. They are invested and engaged, and they learn about science, their world, and their own learning.”  “Lanie measures success by how well she has reached each individual student in her four classes.”  And this from her colleague and former student teacher:  “It is the intangibles that make Lanie an outstanding educator – Lanie’s students love Science.  I’m not sure how to show you this in a letter, but I see it every day.”


A Golden Age is defined as a period of ideal happiness, prosperity or excellent achievement.  Elaine Higgins clearly knows how to inspire her 6th graders in their golden age of learning.  For sure, her students will look back at their early exposure to real science as a period of ideal happiness and excellent achievement, and that speaks also to real prosperity.


David Hitchcock, 2016

David Hitchcock, Grade 8 Pre-AP English Language Arts Teacher at Crosby Middle School in Crosby ISD, Crosby Texas, “makes kids want to come to school – he makes them want to be present, to see what he will do next.” Nominators note that he goes above and beyond in making positive connections with students and colleagues. He possesses the great attributes of not just a great teacher but a great person overall.  His love and dedication for the teaching craft can be seen day after day in his classroom.

David is recognized for developing and providing thought provoking reading projects and interactive events that challenge his higher level learners to exceed their own expectations.  His creative lessons make connections to life skills, weave fiction and non-fiction reading and writing, and involve students in projects including debates, plays, and original poetry presentations.

Here are a few examples:

Students read challenging literature at a level most students are not used to. David proposed and was instrumental in getting a Pre-AP textbook designed for the advanced needs of his students.

When selecting non-fiction material to read, he relates it fictional novels and plays. A mom, who wrote in his behalf, describes the impact of David’s lessons on her 2 boys. “His questions and assignments sharpened their critical thinking and encouraged them to reflect personally and to learn more about ideas.  He introduced literature that taught them about World History and social justice that helped them empathize with people who suffered because of where and when they were born.  His lessons helped mold them into the conscientious and civic minded young men they are today.”

Another example is a mock trial: in connection with acting out “Twelve Angry Men,” a play that involves jury deliberation after a criminal trial, students perform their own trial complete with opening statements, examination of witnesses, and closing statements  The jury students then deliberate the testimony and render a verdict.   During the process students learn life skills such as team work, the importance of setting goals, planning and implementation, critical thinking, and argumentative and persuasive skills.

Poetry is a large component of David’s class.  Students analyze poems and then write their own poems.  At a capstone event, students present their own original poetry as well as poems and songs from professional writers in a coffee shop environment.

David has been a Yearbook sponsor for 9 years, providing quality photography and layout as well as language editing skills for his staff of students.  When the Yearbook took on a new look by going from black and white to all color, he and his Yearbook staff of students created a concession for baseball and basketball games that successfully raised funds to cover the cost and defer some of the costs for student purchase of the book.

On a personal note, David spent 20 years in public service as a member of U.S. Coast Guard., and he was awarded medals for humanitarian service, achievement, and national defense.  He is active in the Baytown Art League advancing the interests of local arts and artists through their monthly newsletter.  He is an artist and actually proposed and executed the creation of a 10-20 foot mural on the south side exterior wall of the school to enhance school spirit.

Here is an educator fully involved in his school community.  Whether it is having kids coming in the afternoons and mornings for guitar lessons, putting on poetry slams, creating coffee bar experiences, or dressing up for Halloween and Red Ribbon Days, David is authentically present.

Michael "Hans" Kalkofen, 2010


Michael "Hans" Kalkofen, is a Grade 7 Science Teacher at the Ephraim Curtis Middle School in Sudbury,  MA.  He is responsible for the science instruction of approximately one hundred students. Hans takes every opportunity and uses it as a “teachable moment”.  His lessons are planned carefully and conscientiously, blending instruction with hands-on opportunities for students. He clearly recognizes the importance of presenting the curriculum in a variety of ways, singing, dancing, as well as being  at the forefront of technology thus offering students a variety of learning experiences. To quote the principal at Curtis, Hans is “a dedicated professional, a talented science teacher, and a champion for middle school students.  To put it simply, he’s a legend.”

His colleagues find him extremely collaborative, helpful, and supportive to all the staff.  As one states:  “If you need a ride somewhere, if your car breaks down, if you’re unsure what to do with a student at school….he’ll not only give you a ride, fix your car, and give you advice about the student, but he’ll direct you to others sources so you can get more perspectives on the situation.”

Hans is known as “ the biggest kid in the 7th grade, albeit with less hair.  He is also an adult who cares about kids—getting to know them, having fun with them, and letting them in on his love for life and science.  He is described as a life-long learner, who constantly takes classes, reflects on best practices, and is always willing to share his ideas and experiences.

Hans Kalkofen truly is “The Real Deal.”

Gerald Kazanjian, 2004

Gerald Kazanjian, affectionately known as “Mr. K.,” is a Music Educator at Holliston Middle School in Holliston, MA. He notes that the educational and the band experience is less about awards and honors than about creating experiences for students to play in musical collaboration for audiences in a wide range of venues.

Suzanne Gillam, an Advisory Board Member for the Goldin Foundation and a previous Goldin Award recipient provided an introduction: “Most of us, I'm sure, have memories of our 'arts' teachers. Perhaps it was an art or music teacher who: helped us discover hidden talents or built up our self-esteem or inspired us to perform beyond our own expectations or outside the box.”

Mr. Kazanjian began teaching in Holliston in 1968 after graduating from Watertown High School and Berklee College of Music. Over the years he has taught instrumental and classroom music, directed bands at all three levels (elementary, middle and high school), served as the K-12 Director of Music, and was nominated as Massachusetts Teacher of the Year in 1996-97.

Maybe you have seen or heard of him …. He performed for 25 years with the Joey C Quartet. He plays bass guitar with the Contemporary Choir at Edward's in Medfield. He is an avid fisherman as captain of his boat, the WeeZee II. Or maybe you've heard him claim to have the best lawn in Medfield. Currently he is the classroom music teacher at Adams Middle School, and he directs the HHS Panther Band and the Rams Band and the Rams Jazz Band at the middle school.

It is because of Mr. K. that instrumental music has been and continues to be a point of pride in the Holliston Public Schools, positively impacting countless students during his career. He is known for treating all students with respect and fostering an atmosphere where students are comfortable taking risks and strive to improve. For many of his students the band is that place in school where they feel the strongest sense of belonging. His middle school band has performed in Philadelphia and Gettysburg and at The Lincoln Center and Statue of Liberty in New York and Boston's Faneuil Hall and State House.

Jerry has recently reinstated the high school band and as it doubled in size, it has quickly become a big part of the school culture, improving the climate and providing an additional reason for school pride. He has students who are performing professionally with the Boston Brass, directing Broadway's Lion King, winning Grammies and teaching music in Newton, Hopkinton, Medfield and Webster.

A music teacher in Holliston who was mentored by Mr. K., states, "I was quick to note that Jerry "IS" a Band Director. It's not just his job, but who he is. He is in the band room early before the morning bell rings, and you can often find him there long after the dismissal bell. I've watched him repeatedly donate his evenings, weekends and holidays to band trips, parades, concerts and other school band functions."

His principal notes, "Mr. Kazanjian is active and well respected by various Music Associations and speaks at their conferences to promote music in other schools and assist those new to the profession. He has inspired generations of students, some of whom are now parents in the school system, to understand and appreciate how music enriches and influences our culture."

Nicola Kennedy, 2008

Nicola Kennedy, a French teacher at Miller Middle School in the Cupertino Union School District in Cupertino, CA is truly cosmopolitan:  She was born in Germany, began her education in France at age five, returned to Germany for a year when she was eleven, moved to North Carolina for two and a half years, and finally settled in northern California.  Nicola received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature and anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1979.  After a successful ten-year career in the business world during which time she met and married Robin, Nicola stayed home to raise their three sons, Michael, Justin, and Sean. 

In 1997, while living in Huntsville, Alabama, Nicola worked as a facilitator for Girls, Inc., an organization dedicated to preventing adolescent pregnancy.  She found it a rewarding experience and realized that she liked working with young people.  Nicola decide to pursue a career in education, and in 2000, before returning once again to California, she received an Elementary Education Certification from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  Nicola had always wanted to teach French, but she was not sure how many positions would be available in that field.  Imagine her delight when interviewing for another position in the Cupertino Union School District, one of the interviewers asked, “Would you be willing to teach French?” 

Nicola is now in her eighth year of teaching French 1A and 1B to Miller Middle School seventh and eighth grade students as well as the French portion of the World Language Wheel, which exposes sixth grade students to French, Spanish, and Japanese.  French 1A and 1B is a program designed to prepare students for entry into French 2 at the high school level. 

Miller Middle School Assistant Principal, Mary Fay-Zenk writes in her nomination letter, “As a teacher, Nicola builds capacity, considering differentiation a central ingredient for success with students.  Her classroom is a place where all students participate and contribute and where students take responsibility for themselves as learners.”  In addition to listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, art, music, singing, and skits are an integral part of Nicola’s French program.  The classroom walls are covered with engaging and creative projects, which stimulate language learning.  Students explore the cultural differences in the Francophone world and have the opportunity to practice their French language skills during a weeklong summer trip to Montreal, Quebec.  This year for the first time, Miller Middle School students are participating in the National French Exam.

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Nicola serves as the head of the Foreign Language Department, advisor to the National Junior Honor Society, serves as a board member of the Foreign Language Association of Santa Clara County, and gave a workshop for educators about vocabulary acquisition strategies for ELD students at the San Jose Writing Project.  Nicola works tirelessly for the promotion of foreign language instruction.  Last year due to a staffing problem, Hyde Middle School was at risk for losing its French program.  In addition to teaching her own assignment at Miller, Nicola stepped in to teach Hyde’s French 1B class and is currently helping to mentor the new teacher there.

 Miller Middle School principal, Richard Taylor, observes, “Mrs. Kennedy has not only motivated students to continuously excel in French by using differentiated learning approaches and techniques, but has made French truly come alive for them. She is dedicated, cares deeply about her students and fellow teachers, and seeks to make an impact in the young lives that she touches.” 

Charissa Korobov, 2006

Charissa Korobov is a Math Teacher at the Miller Middle School, Cupertino Union School District, CA.  Though she is a young woman in her 6th year of teaching, Charissa is already a master teacher who has earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues. Raised in Shrewsbury, MA, she got her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She went on to receive her masters from Worcester State College in Middle School Education with a concentration in Mathematics. After teaching for 4 years in Shrewsbury, she came out to California two years ago with her husband, Dr. Neill Korobov, who is a professor of Developmental Psychology at UC Santa Cruz. They live in Santa Cruz and Charissa commutes over highway 17 everyday to teach math at Miller Middle School.


Jeanne-Marie Rachlin, math teacher at Los Gatos-Saratoga High School introduced Charissa, "It was a pleasure to read the nominating papers on Charissa written by her principal, Richard Taylor; her vice-principal Mary Fay-Zenk; and Cupertino Union’s Math Resource Teacher, Cheryl Anderson. My visit to interview and observe Charissa a few weeks ago was an additional treat. Words that seem to describe Charissa are hands-on style of teaching, collaboration with other teachers, and works of inspiration." 

Charissa uses her hands-on-style of teaching in both her Algebra 1 classes and her Math 8 classes which are for students who have difficulty in math. She endeavors to give students problems that they can relate to, problems that excite them. Some examples involve real life stories about architects and bridge builders. The day I visited, she had prepared an activity for reviewing for a test the next day. The students were handed a set of problems which had errors in them. The students were arranged in groups of four and they set about working together to find the errors and correct them. One of the errors was a rather sophisticated one which involved division by zero. I heard several students who finally figured out the error saying, “You can’t divide by zero – remember we learned that if you divide by zero you have to go to jail!”

Collaboration with other teachers is a second hallmark of Charissa’s teaching. Her vice-principal Mary Fay-Zenk summarizes this characteristic well. “Charissa continually seeks for ways to improve her teaching. She sets high expectations for herself as a professional and exerts leadership at regional, district, and school levels. She attends the Bay Area’s Noyce Math Institute sessions, participates in the district-wide middle school math forum, and represents Miller at Cupertino’s math lead teacher network.” I’m looking forward to hearing more about her work in this area!

Charissa has a way of seeking out works of inspiration. She surrounds her students with inspiration in many different ways. There is  a whole wall full of inspiring quotes the students had selected and written for posting.  One example is “Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.” Charissa sends positive letters home and gives students awards for “Making a Difference”. She is the school coordinator of Project Wisdom in which readings are made twice a week during the morning announcements, such as recycling and being a good steward of planet Earth. Golden Hoofprint Awards are given out to students in conjunction with Project Wisdom.

With her hands-on style of teaching, collaboration with other teachers, and works of inspiration, Charissa Korobov is a stellar teacher.

David Kujawski, 2016


“He challenges students to think critically and strive to new levels.” David Kujawski is a 6th grade science teacher at Bird Middle School in Walpole, MA.  His nominators note that he uses a variety of learning strategies for each lesson; he shows the relevance of concepts to real life experiences; and he develops and implements highly motivating hands-on activities.  One of David’s colleagues describes his lessons as “unique, engaging, and student directed.” For example, “in a typical lesson, students might review the concepts of potential and kinetic energy using self-designed catapults. They are instructed to use specific materials, examine a time line and research some background information; from this the students are required to follow the design process to develop and test their own catapult models. In another lesson students arranged themselves to represent a model of an atom and then role played the atom’s functions.”


Other accomplishments include:

·       David developed an entire curriculum for incorporating engineering and design into the traditional science classroom for use by all middle school science teachers.

·       He established an Invention Convention student team that participates in planning, developing, and completing several practical inventions that are shared.  Last year the team took 1st prize at the competition at Bridgewater State.

·        He developed and coaches the LEGO Robotics Club with plans to compete with other area schools.


Bridget Gough, Principal at Bird Middle School identifies David as a “true educational leader.” He has secured several grants to improve learning for students and staff members. David was selected as one of five state finalists for the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, which focuses on solutions that improve the community and fosters STEM education.  The students in this project presented their research and recommendations to the School Committee and governing boards in Walpole.  Additionally, David has initiated staff development in the district for the new Massachusetts Science Curriculum Standards based on the Next Generation Science Standards. Extending his passion for learning to other Science educators across the country, David has published three articles in the NSTA Science Scope journal. “Engaging our students with real life opportunities and providing colleagues the opportunity to learn from one another are evidence of David’s dedication to continuous learning and leadership.”


Education is not only David’s career choice, it is his passion. David’s Twitter profile

@STEMatBirdMS describes him as the father of three amazing sons, 2016 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Finalist, National Education Association/Better Lesson Science Master Teacher Project,  2013 Siemens STEM Fellow, and NASA Endeavor Fellow.

Kerri Lorigan, 2010

Kerri Lorigan is a Grade 7 Humanities Teacher at the Watertown Middle School, in Watertown, MA. As a teacher, she exemplifies the model which educators strive to emulate. A master of differentiated instruction, Kerri constantly adapts her teaching style and curriculum to benefit all of the students who cross the threshold of her classroom. A few years ago Kerri taught an exceptionally challenging class with students who had severe emotional disabilities learning alongside some of the school’s top achievers. After co-teaching the class with her that year, Mr. Duffy, the school’s special education teacher, dubbed her “The Buddha” in acknowledgement of her remarkable way of creating a classroom environment that is peaceful and nurturing, light, and uplifting.

Kerri also goes above and beyond to connect with her students in a genuine and caring way which inspires both the confidence and admiration of all those whom she teaches. She quickly earns the trust and respect of her students, then works her magic to make her students excited to learn and goes on to compel each to reach his or her highest potential.”  Kerri initiated a 7th grade humanities teaching model, which combines the content of history with the skills learned in language arts. This double block model has allowed teachers to get to know their students better as learners and as people. Kerri takes this concept to a whole new level in her own personal interactions with her students. Her impact extends far beyond the classroom. She also designed and implemented an experiential learning experience for the entire 7th grade. Because of Kerri’s incredible dedication, collaboration, grant–writing, and powers of persuasion, the 7th  grade students now embark on a team-building journey to New Hampshire’s Brown Center for Innovative Learning. Here the students engage in meaningful group decision- making discussions, take creative risks, and learn to effectively problem solve in peer groups – sometimes while hanging from ropes and trees thirty feet up in the air. During this trip the students are mastering important skills to become global citizens: communication, empathy, trust, collaboration, and collective problem solving.”

There is a proverb that states, “The flowers of all our tomorrows are in the seeds we sow today.”  This quote truly captures the positive teaching spirit of Kerri Lorigan.

Jamie Lyons, 2011

Jamie Lyons  is a Grade 7 Social Studies and Language Arts Teacher at the Pierce School in Brookline, MA. 

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”  (William Arthur Ward)  Jamie Lyons is that inspirational force to her students, her colleagues, and the entire school community. She’s a dynamic teacher, an involved colleague, and a leader in the Pierce community.


For each student, Jamie works to find that delicate balance of setting the bar high, while at the same time scaffolding them for success. She takes numerous steps to support and motivate her students, embracing their diverse learning styles, challenges, and strengths. In her classroom, discussion of social studies is often combined with guidance on adjusting to 7th grade, making good choices, and setting goals for oneself.


Jamie differentiates her instruction to access all learners.  One example is her Constitutional Convention, which brings history to life.  A favorite activity of 7th graders, students assume roles as delegates from 1987 to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  


Jamie proves in many other ways that education goes beyond the walls of the classroom.  She spearheads Pierce’s involvement in the annual Project Bread Walk for Hunger.  She does this as a volunteer, because she believes in the power of such an experience to transform children’s lives. “Children who might not have been aware that people in their own neighborhoods are hungry become avid activists in their own communities; students who may never have participated in a fundraising activity commit to the long walk; and adolescents who might otherwise be focused inward find fulfillment in their mission to help others,” states nominator Amy Hintzman.  To encourage awareness and participation for the 7th and 8th graders, Jamie puts “hunger facts” in her classroom during the year, invites members of Project Bread to come and talk why the Walk for Hunger is so important, and teaches students to set up personal donation sites.  Jamie’s leadership has resulted in increased participation and fundraising last year of over $29,000.


Another of Jamie’s projects is the “Artwork for Education” drive, in which students from many grade levels have their artwork showcased and published on greeting cards. Jamie encourages participation of students and teachers, and she spends many hours collecting, organizing, and distributing artwork submissions that are then sold to the public. The school fundraiser supports field trips and other school related programs.


Jamieʼs dedication and practices serve as a reminder of the importance of educating the whole child, not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well. She is that great teacher who inspires. She touches lives, and each one is clearly better for having her in it.

Charles MacLaughlin, 2006

Charles “MR. MAC” MacLaughlin, a teacher for over 40 years, is currently at the St. Peter School in Dorchester, MA.  Mr. Mac loves his job.  Mr. Mac cares.  Mr. Mac is the type of teacher most teachers aspire to become.  These are the words of one of Mr. Charles MacLaughlin’s nominators. 

 Mr. Mac has been the epitome of excellence in education.  He is a committed teacher, an inspiring role model, an invaluable leader, and a truly generous spirit. He teaches multiple subjects, mentors new teachers, plans school-wide events, and creates countless opportunities for extra-curricular learning.  In fact, considering all this, it’s easy to forget that Mr. Mac is “retired”.

After leaving Quincy High School, where he spent more than three decades, Mr. Mac could have easily settled in to the “quiet life” and no one would have begrudged him this well deserved rest.  Yet, Mr. Mac must have decided wasn’t quite ready to give up the joys of the classroom. So, instead, he joined the faculty of St. Peter’s School in Dorchester, which has served generations of immigrant families for over 100 years.  This school serves as a home away from home for its students - a place where every child is known, acknowledged and loved.  Mr. Mac is the embodiment of these values at St. Peter School.

In describing Mr. Mac, another nominator stated that what amazes her most is the individual connection Mr. Mac has with each of his students.  He recognizes that what may encourage one student might frighten another and know how far to push them.

Mr. Mac goes beyond the classroom every day.  He has organized the St. Peter track team, the annual “Turkey Trot”, the school wide scavenger hunt, and every June during the final week of school he runs the annual field day.

St. Peter School has a small staff and limited resources and the students face many personal challenges.  Few people would picture this as an ideal “retirement” destination.  Yet, every day, through his words and deeds, it was stated that Mr. Mac reminds us that there is much joy and meaning to be found here and everyone is so proud to know him and so grateful for everything he does.

Janet Maguire, 2005

Janet Maguire, Alternative Program Coordinator at Ottoson Middle School in Arlington,  has been an educator with the Arlington Public schools for over twenty years. She began by teaching in the regular education setting before pursuing her Masters Degree in Special Education. She entered special education through he Transitional Learning Center (TLC) program, where she taught for three years. Later she served a year as Special Education Liaison to the seventh grade—providing support in cluster classes and teaching follow-up classes in a separate area. Finally she was chosen to pilot what became Ottoson’s Alternative Program.

Having recognized the need for a program not offered, Janet Maguire designed and implemented the Ottoson Middle School’s Alternative Program beginning in 2000 with about ten at-risk students. Often these students come from difficult circumstances, which provide significant stresses on them in addition to the turmoil of adolescent development. A tireless advocate for these students in need, Janet has shepherded a handful of them for each of the four subsequent years. Students are taught some subjects in separate settings, and some move wholly into mainstream classes. About 35 students, who might otherwise have failed the year or been retained at year’s end, succeeded in passing through the middle school with Janet’s help. The Alternative Program serves children for whom there is no mandated help; these are children without Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) or 504 Plans; who so easily fall through the cracks of the educational system. Without the support of Janet’s program, many of these students would be unlikely to experience success.
Janet works hard with the other teachers in the building, and with school administration, to ensure that her students are successful in school. She meets with individual teachers in the cluster, negotiating a manageable workload for her students while maintaining standards of excellence in education. She tracks the activities in each child’s home situation, and alerts teachers form time to time if a child in experiencing seemingly insurmountable personal challenges.  Janet does not ask that the teachers cut expectations for her students. She is always pushing them to do more and better; they not only experience success but also they can have the satisfaction of turning in their assignments at the same time as do other students. Her work with them enables them to feel part of the regular classroom, not separate from their peers.


Janet’s inexhaustible energy and drive to get the most available for her kids prompted  her to spearhead a homework help program in the Menotomy Manor Housing Project. Operation Success opened its doors in March of 1999. It serves middle and high school students four nights a week for two hours per night throughout the school year. With  the homework center staffed by volunteers and partially funded by a local grant, Janet works tirelessly to raise money to keep the program supplied and to obtain computer equipment. Her efforts include soliciting local businesses and hosting an annual fund- raiser. She works with the Arlington Housing Agency, the Community Development Block Grant Process, the Arlington Police Department, the Arlington Boys and Girls Club, and numerous other citizens, agencies, and organizations to support the homework center.

Aside from the two or three nights she spends tutoring at the homework club and raising the funds, Janet has also been instrumental in getting kids involved in local sports and dance programs. She secures positions at a cost the family can afford, fills out the applications, obtains birth certificates when needed, and acquires any necessary equipment.

The following quotations come from some of Janet’s colleagues

“She helps me, a classroom teacher, to design reasonable alternative assignments when necessary—consistent with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. With Janet’s help, these at-risk students not only succeed, but they flourish. The work she does with them is nothing short of amazing.”

“She quickly displayed her gifted teaching skills and unmatched patience with students having severe learning disabilities. It became abundantly clear that these students looked to Janet not only as their teacher, but also as a trusted parent figure who was willing to do anything to help them. I was gratified to see Janet make such an impact on the lives of young people. As the year ended, I felt incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to work with such a master teacher.”

“Janet is they type of educator who sees a need, struggles with the bureaucracy, and through commitment and perseverance accomplishes her goals. Her life, both in and out of school, is dedicated to the overall well being of young adults, regardless of whether or not they are in her class. Janet is intelligent, caring, creative, and kid-centered. She is an outstanding educator who constantly seeks new strategies to assure success for all her students.”

“Janet Maguire’s work ethic and professional insight make her an ideal candidate for the Goldin Foundation’s Award for Excellence in Education. She is generous when sharing her gifts of compassion and understanding.”

To say that Janet Maguire is an exceptional educator is indeed an understatement. In my opinion there are no words to describe her drive, her dedication, and her love of the profession and for the kids she serves.”

Barbara McEvoy, 2006

Barbara McEvoy is an eighth grade Mathematics teacher at the Watertown Middle School in Watertown, MA. According to Barbara’s nominators, she is an exceptional math teacher with a strong commitment to her students, the school community and to the development of new teachers as an influential role model.  Barbara is often found in the classroom helping individual students early in the morning before school as well as late in the day after classes are over.  Her reputation for constantly renewing her own practice shows her drive toward high standards.

Barbara teaches five math classes a day, is a team leader and coaches the after school club “Math Counts”.  She has also co-authored the book, “Chance Encounters”.  Relating math to students’ everyday lives is a special project for Barbara.

A project that illustrates Barbara’s teaching excellence is the Career Day Project.  Working with the guidance department and her fellow math teachers, she has her students take a survey of their strengths and tries to match a particular career to each student.  Students then research that career by collecting data about the salary, gender breakdown, required education, job satisfaction indexes, as well as year-to-year trends in these categories. Students then have to organize, interpret, and present the data.  In the end, the students are expected to understand and clearly demonstrate whether or not the career is worth pursuing pointing to the mathematical evidence which supports their claim. 

It has been said that Barbara will do anything in her power to support her students as they strive toward success. Throughout her long teaching career, she has touched the lives of thousands of students and staff members.

SFC Timothy A. Meadows, 2010

SFC Timothy Meadow is a Teacher and LOTC Army Instructor at Crosby Middle School in Crosby, Texas.  He retired from active duty in the U. S. Army after 21 years of service which included various assignments including drill sergeant, Army recruiter, airborne instructor, and platoon sergeant. Upon his retirement, he was hired by Crosby ISD in Crosby, Texas  to assume the duties of Army Instructor in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Crosby High School, and, according to one of his nominators, he was instrumental in the establishment of the JROTC program at CHS.  In his position as Instructor, and because of his leadership skill, and because of the relationships he has made, SFC Meadows has made a significant impact in the lives of young people at CHS.

Students do not necessarily see the program as a pathway only to military service but one that leads to important life skills. The programs effectively integrate skills of leadership, current events, physical education, ethics, and community service. Tim’s professionalism, his attention to detail, and his superior teaching skill have contributed significantly to the JROTC Program’s attaining the “Honor Unit with Distinction” award on its first federal inspection in 2007.

Currently SFC Meadows is also responsible for the Leadership Officers Training Corps at Crosby Middle School. One of his nominators said this about his leadership in the LOTC program:  “The LOTC program at CMS has made an incredible impact on all of the students with whom Tim has worked. The difference he has made in the lives of students has been enormous. After serving our country for 21 years, he continues to pass on traditions and values that will make our students good citizens and good people.”

Tim is married to Teresa Meadows and they have three sons. Chase is an Army recruiter in Baytown; Chad is an Army Military Policeman now in Bagdad, Iraq; and Chance is a senior at CHS.

Marie Mele, 2014

Marie Mele serves as Coordinator of the Integrated Support Program at Watertown Middle School in Watertown, MA. In the center of every wheel, there is a hub.  It is the focus of activity from which spokes emanate.  Together, they in turn provide balance, strength and integrity to the wheel so that movement can be achieved.  Marie Mele, co-creator of the Integrated Support Program and is its current coordinator, is very much a hub at her school.  Principal Kimo Carter describes the program this way. “The Integrated Support Program provides quality education for high risk students with behavioral issues.  Some take advantage of partially integrated programs while others are serviced in a substantially separate setting.  It also connects and manages students displaying disruptive behavior that results in them being sent out of class.  It addition it provides respite for students who are anxious, depressed or just having a bad day. Furthermore, it proactively connects with various agencies to wrap services around students and families that need immediate support.

Marie is the focus from which all of the individual parties, the spokes per se, are connected.  Be it parents, social workers, interns, special education teachers, regular education teachers, therapists, psychiatrists, primary care doctors or recreational program providers, Marie provides the coordination necessary to foster the balance, strength and integrity in students’ lives so that they can move ahead and achieve success.  If a student or his/her family critically needs help, Marie knows exactly whom to call.  As Mr. Carter, further states, “Without question, Marie Mele is the best special education student and family liaison I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

One may ask, just what drives this positive and inspirational educator?  Jason Del Porto, her assistant principal, says that it is her heart.  It is that heart that social worker Elizabeth Webb says that allows Marie to always be in the thick of what’s going on in the program, managing students’ concerns, helping with academic work and collaborating with program staff and mainstream faculty to meet students’ needs in a holistic manner.

Marie is an excellent communicator.    She communicates through her positive attitude, her empathetic wisdom and her generosity. As Mr. Del Porto reports, “Marie is masterful at guiding parents to see objectively in a world of gray, listening to cries for help in a room filled with anger, and creating boundaries when surrounded by blame.”  Marie communicates through the use of words.  She is known for frequently saying, “You are important.”, “You can do it,” and “I will help you.”  She also communicates through her actions such as hosting coffee hours and dinners to bring in families or by taking students’ dirty clothes home to be laundered.  And the message is loud and clear.  Her students and their families are significant, talented and loved.  Furthermore, this message is not lost on her colleagues.  As Sarah Juusola states, “Marie inspires the staff with which she works.”

At Watertown Middle School the wheels of progress go forward: many discipline issues have been reduced; suspensions have been cut in half, a caring school culture is reinforced; the quality of fragile students’ lives is enhanced; and students are ready to learn and make positive contributions to the education environment.  Marie Mele is one of its change makers.

Amanda Naeger, 2015

Amanda Naeger, Grade 7 Writing Teacher and Grade Level Chair at Brays Oaks campus in the YES Prep District, Houston, Texas, is a “can do’ educator, who has had a tremendous influence in shaping her campus culture and students’ development.

Her nominators note that Amanda is the “single most impactful teacher in terms of student achievement in its campus history.  Achieving “jaw-dropping” results, her students had the highest scores in the system. In her 3rd year of teaching, 88% of her students passed the 7th grade STARR Writing exam, and 11.5% earned “advanced. 

So how does Amanda and her students accomplish this?.....thoughtful planning, reflection of data, and high student engagement. 

Some highlights of her success:

  • Students write for 20-130 minutes of every single class period, enough time to develop a comfort level with writing. ….lots of purposeful practice.

  • Amanda’s lessons are never repeated, and every period looks different. During one period she models basic skills with a small group; during another she coaches high achieving students in mimicking high school essays.

  • Some students are given leadership opportunities and with guidance provide structured coaching and modeling to their peers, who have identified their own needs.

  • Interventions occur outside the classroom. Amanda piloted the Expressive Writing curriculum for after school tutorials.  And, emerging writers are given a weekly writing workshop.

  • All these examples are done within a joyous environment.  Amanda finds creative ways to reinforce concepts through songs, chants, and hand motions.

  • As grade level leader, Amanda has mentored new teachers. She finds numerous ways to celebrate successes of her students and teachers through school celebrations, academic achievement rallies, and family meetings. She developed the vision of a campus-wide community service program, and she coordinates this program that includes two all-school days of service.

  • Finally, Amanda coordinates all activities for CAV Camp, a week long middle school orientation for new students at Brays Oaks. She trains “CAV Camp counselors, a program in which high school students facilitate team building activities and serve as mentors for middle school students.

Amanda lives her school’s motto. “Nothing but the best is good enough.” 

Aidan O'Hara, 2015

Aidan O’Hara is the Drama Teacher and 7th Grade Director at Weston Middle School, Weston Public Schools, MA. Educator, drama teacher, play director, and 7th Grade Director, Aidan ably fills all these roles and more.

Aidan’s drama lessons go above and beyond acting; they develop self-expression and self-awareness.  They include many styles of learners, a core of respect for all participants; and they always provide a message.  It is quite clear that the drama lesson is a means to a student’s awareness of self and community and how the two are interdependent.  Elizabeth Binney states, “As a parent, I am grateful to have an educator who teaches values above all else.”  Aidan’s well-organized lessons are encouraging and empowering.  Students are drawn in and attracted by Aidan’s generosity and compassion much that same way a flower is drawn closer by the warmth of the sun.  Furthermore, under Aidan’s direction, the quality and ambition of the school’s performances have soared.  As Liz Heichlbeck points out, “Under Aidan’s leadership, the school has won many student drama festival competitions as well as the admiration of colleagues, students and parents.”  She further explains that Aidan is not afraid to take risks and involve students with play creating.  Two of the most noteworthy original works that were co-written with students involve 1) a play based on the poetry of Shel Silverstein that was both compelling and inspiring and 2) Shades of Gray in which 60 middle school students tackled issues of race and identity through the recounting of real life events surrounding the 1957 desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, AK.  The production included scenes of present day examples of racism and bullying, roles of “upstander” and “bystander,” and a culminating visit from Terrance Roberts, one of the members of the “Little Rock Nine”.  The play was electrifying and is said to have had a profound impact on the school culture.

Aidan is a master leader and organizer.  As Grade 7 Director, he synchronizes the educational movements of a talented staff that lead to progress by their students. During weekly meetings with students and staff, Aidan takes care of usual housekeeping responsibilities, but more importantly, through a variety of media, he thoughtfully and purposely encourages students to consider how history can educate them about their responsibilities today.  Every activity he chooses is sensible and developmentally appropriate.  As nominator Kim Roslonek notes, “He gets being twelve.”  Additionally, Aidan has worked to create advisory groups in grade 7. He organizes a yearly grade wide field trip to the Hale Reservation in Westwood where students can take risks, bond in small groups, realize the true meaning of teamwork, and ultimately learn more about themselves.

As a leader, Aidan meets twice weekly with his 7th grade team staff members whereas Caryn Grozalsky, grade 7 House Supervisor, comments, “He pushes our team to really think outside of the box in order to really make the lessons meaningful in all disciplines.”  She further states that his insights and his desire to teach empathy through social competency programs are truly inspirational.

Aidan was a driving force in implementing iPad use across the 7th grade curriculum.  Starting 4 years ago, a pilot team of 3 teachers, under Aidan’s direction and assisted by Peter Kidwell, the school’s technology advisor, began the process.  In the following year, the program was expanded to include the entire 7th grade and eventually the entire school.  Lee McCanne, Weston’s Director of Technology reports that Aidan’s leadership in shepherding the program and smoothing out the bumps in the road paved the way for full school implementation.  The lessons learned from Aidan’s experiences became the model by which the other grades followed.

Aidan was instrumental in the creation of RALI an original competency program that the school employs.  RALI stands for Relationships, Awareness, Learning and Integrity.  Aidan had been working with the RALI program for a few years when he decided to integrate it with the Facing History and Ourselves Program, which shares many of the same principles.  Facing History and Ourselves is an internationally renowned program that examines case studies of genocide attempts to explore political and personal motivations in better understanding social behaviors.  Ultimately, it empowers the student with self-awareness and the ability to make a difference.  Aidan researched the program, made a plan, created energy, fostered excitement, and got his 7th grade team on board.  The goal he shared was to use history to help students make an emotional, ethical and intellectual connection to themselves and others.  Aidan conducted workshops for training, wrote grants to secure advisors, and worked with staff to use their dynamic curricula to infuse Facing History and Ourselves principles, ideas and pedagogy.  Principal John Gibbons states, “Aidan’s development of our Facing History and Ourselves curriculum, embedding it into our seventh grade culture, is a model of progress, organization and implementation.

Debra Pinto, 2012

Debra Pinto is a  Physical Education Teacher at Hopkinton Middle School in  Hopkinton MA.

Beth Altchek, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member who introduced Debra at the Educators Forum, recounts her visit to Hopkinton Middle School.   “I walked into Deb’s 6th grade PE class to be met with a blast of music and a swarm of middle school students. They were warming up for the class ahead. They were reading the agenda on the white board and getting down to business independently. As the class progressed, it became clear that the children knew what was expected of them, and they knew how to proceed. They were highly motivated, and it was clear who motivated them: their teacher, Deb Pinto. Kids began to rotate in teams, moving seamlessly from a team game to the fitness center to work on personal goals. Some kids were doing “Dance, Dance, Revolution” to get their cardio and coordination going. This was clearly not the PE class I remembered from my middle school years.”

Many people participated in Deb’s nomination for “Excellence in Education.” Debra was described by colleagues as “creative, innovative, and dynamic.”  She was described by her students as a “terrific and amazing teacher, as encouraging, inspiring and motivating.”  One unit mentioned again and again by her nominators was: 5K Training for Middle School students. This is a where Deb is truly inspiring. She has trained for many races of her own, including Ironman Distance Triathlons and an April 2012 event, the “Half Ironman” in New Orleans. She explains to her students what it means to train, the good days and the bad, as well as the satisfaction one feels at completing a goal. For their own training, children learn about what to wear, how to choose and register for a race, proper running technique, and about nutrition and hydration.

Technology is integrated into regular PE classes and 5K training. There is an iPad in use, sometimes for something as basic as timing an activity, sometimes to video a student in action, recording how to improve technique.  This information is emailed to the students so they can review outside of school if they choose to. Technology is also used to take baseline results for fitness levels and to access apps, which give suggestions for activities to improve areas of need.

In order to fund these units and fill the fitness center, Deb has yet another talent: grant writing. The Hopkinton Education Foundation funded nearly $8,000 for a grant entitled, “Active for Life.” This allowed for professional development for the K-12 Wellness staff and 3 school nurses.  It also paid for the hardware and software necessary for implementing the program.

Beth Altchek concludes, “In the news we often hear about the rise of obesity and of diabetes. We hear just as often that being fit and leading an active, healthy life is what we should aim for. Sometimes it is hard when faced with fast food and fast paced lives. My favorite quote about Debra Pinto comes from an eighth grader. She says, ‘She has taught me how happy you can be if you live a physically active life. If you look at her you can see that she is very healthy. And she encourages me to live a physically active and happy life.’  That is inspiration for us all.”

Judy Powers & Claire Regan, 2005

Judy and Claire are being recognized for   their professional collaboration in developing a unique inclusion program. According to their nominators, “Their goal is to include ALL the students from absolute beginner ESL students to the most advanced native speakers, writers, and readers …in ALL class activities.”  To do this, they fully integrate the ESL students into all small group work and whole class discussions and require them to do all the reading and writing assignments, albeit in a modified form.  The co-teaching model they have created consists of three components: their daily planning period, the co-taught Language Arts class, and Judy’s Content Support and ESL Reading class. The latter previews skills and concepts about to be tackled in Language Arts class , and students are given extra support with writing and study skills. Judy and Claire are noted for their choices of rich, multi-cultural literature, of rigorous daily language and vocabulary development, and for step-by-step modeling of each aspect of their lessons.

According to Holly Handlin, Assistant Principal and English Department Chair, "Their egos are not involved; they focus completely on creating engaging and challenging units that will help all students grow as readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers."  She says that in co-teaching their class, Judy and Claire, "seize any opportunity to bring in different cultural traditions of languages to be sure that the ESL students feel respected and valued, " and that "it is a delight to see them working in a true 'pas de deux' of teaching."

In addition to teaching their inclusion class, both Judy and Claire have extended themselves to their professional community to share their work with other teachers.  They have presented at statewide and national conferences.  As a result, several other schools have sought support from them in developing similar inclusion programs. Claire and Judy have been presenters for professional development for their own Watertown Middle School faculty, and they are constantly sharing their expertise in informal ways.

Successful co-teaching requires time for planning, setting mutual expectations, and willingness to share tasks.  Judy and Claire evidence their commitment and effort in developing and implementing this wonderful model; and the results are creative and engaging materials and activities, a high level of learning, mutual respect of all participants, and incorporation of a wide variety of cultural traditions.

Jean Pybas, 1993

Jean Pybas is a teacher at the Holliston Middle School. After a quest to discover why some students have such difficulty learning academic subjects in school, Jean designed and implemented a unique model of inclusion. The model includes fifty percent special needs students and fifty percent regular students, who are average to above average in academic achievement.

Teaming with a special needs teachers, Jean approaches learning through the integration of looking, listening, doing, talking, and moving, with talking being the most common factor. Students are taught processes for recognizing the structure of language inherent in textbooks and stories, expository writing, and creative writing. Ms. Pybas teaches students organization of materials and time management. She arranges for modifications for the special needs population such as taped reading, and she facilitates collaborative learning. This inclusion model has been adapted in various forms in Holliston for grades 1-8, and it has been shared with educators from other schools.

Sharon Regner, 2008

Sharon Regner is the district coordinator for GATE and technology in the Loma Prieta District at both C.T. English Middle School and Loma Prieta Elementary School in Loma Prieta, CA.  She is a graduate of UC Davis and received her Master’s Degree in Technology from San Jose State University. 

 Sharon has had an amazing impact on students, staff, and the entire Loma Prieta community.  For students, Sharon coordinated a space program in which students, dressed as astronauts, took the different roles of the crew and ran a stimulated mission.  One ongoing project is the I Movie project during which students research a topic, develop a position on the topic, and then create a documentary film.  The culmination of this project occurs at the Loma Prieta Oscars, a black-tie-optional awards ceremony . Judges for this exciting event are chosen from the community.  And, yes, winners are awarded an Oscar-like statuette.  Sharon’s eighth grade class students are thoroughly engaged  while working on their I Movie projects.

 Another projects-based assignment Sharon has for her eighth grade students is a life skills project, during which the students research the costs for different real-life expenses, as well as the salaries for different jobs.  The end result for the students is that they make some decisions regarding possible career choices.  It is obvious that Sharon is a firm believer in hands-on/project-based activities with each and every activity always challenging students into higher level thinking.

 Always forward-thinking, Sharon wrote and received a grant to purchase a class set of Palm pilots for her fifth grade class.  She integrated the Palm pilots into all curricular areas, soliciting community members to assist with the implementation.  (reminiscent of Steve Wozniak who did a similar thing with laptop computers for fifth graders at a school in another district here in the mountains)

 As GATE coordinator, Sharon takes the same approach as for her technology teaching.  Activities, again, are project-based.  She has instituted the Math Olympiad, WordMasters, and the Autonomous Learner Degree.  She also has created a program for middle school females entitled Tech Savvy Girls in order to involve more girls in math and science.  In March, she initiated a dinner for GATE girls in grades four through eight to reinforce the idea that it is cool to be smart!   The Monday Morning News is a student produced and presented closed-circuit TV program, while the Tech Degree enables students to troubleshoot problems with technology in the district.  Then there are also ThinkQuest and Math Bowl.

 For staff, Sharon provides workshops on differentiating the curriculum, as well as serving as a Teach the Teachers trainer for Intel’s “Teach to the Future” program.  In a program called Tech Savvy Teachers, Sharon conducts a once-a-month workshop for teachers who are interested in integrating technology into their teaching.

 For seniors in the community, Sharon conducted a basic computer literacy class.  Her energy and dedication appear to be unending. However, in her leisure time, Sharon enjoys spending time with her family.  She is the married mother of three sons and a loving grandmother to her granddaughter.  She also loves to travel.

Sharon relates what she most enjoys about teaching, “I enjoy interacting with the kids and getting excited.”  Clearly the students respond in kind.

Kim Roslonek, 2006

Kim Roslonek is a seventh grade Guidance Counselor at the Weston Middle School in Weston, MA. Kim's nominators  state that she is a most valuable asset to her school. A selfless, child-centered educator….. an incredibly effective guidance counselor….. an exceptional manager of student cases…. an amazing young woman who maintains high energy in all of her endeavors, never losing sight of students’ best interests.” 

Three years ago, Kim realized that her school did not have a strong model for peer support, mediation, and mentoring. She proposed an Anti -Bullying/Peer Support Program and then took the initiative to research a number of possible programs, curricula, and approaches that would best meet the needs of  Weston Middle School.  Kim decided to pursue one called Natural Helpers Program, which is based on the following premise.  “Within every school, an informal helping network exists.  Students with problems naturally seek out other students, and occasionally teachers or other school staff, whom they trust for advice, assistance, or just a sympathetic ear.  The program uses this existing network; it provides training to students perceived as ‘natural helpers,’ and it gives them skills they need to provide help more effectively to young people who seek them out.”

Kim wrote a grant to the educational enrichment organization to cover the cost of the curriculum.  Using the Natural Helpers Program as a foundation, she designed a program for her school that has since been modified to meet its specific needs and interests. Under Kim’s leadership the program has become a part of the fiber of the middle school, a comprehensive peer support program which is completely driven on volunteer basis by additional faculty members and students. Students are elected by their peers and are trained in an ongoing program of leadership skills. They then provide day- to-day support, guidance, and intervention to students who need peer support. In addition, students have worked in the elementary schools, participated as role models in grade 6 classes, and role-played scenes of harassment during student assemblies.  These peer leaders have also acted as a sounding board for faculty on a number of issues.

Kim has led numerous parent forums, transition meetings, and is an integral part of the scheduling process.  She regularly participates in classroom activities with students such as rock climbing and discussion groups.

Kim’s commitment to students and to the school community at large shines through every day.

Jennifer Rudolph, 2004

Anyone who works in the field of education knows that of all the accolades and achievements one may achieve as a professional, few equal the very real outcomes demonstrated by our students.  She is honored for “taking her students to the highest pinnacles f creativity and learning”, a teacher who “makes learning not only fun for the students but also bestows them with a strong sense of purpose and self-respect”, according to her nominators.

Jen Rudolph is a sixth grade social studies teacher and house supervisor at Weston Middle School.  She is honored for her excellence in teaching, creative and interactive activities, her leadership, and for working “diligently and compassionately with students and staff”. She is noted for her  “Tree of Respect” project which engaged students in preparing skits to represent the qualities of encouragement, self-confidence, cooperation, responsibility, compassion, positive attitude, community, honesty, honor, effort, leadership, health, teamwork and honor and culminated in the creation of giant Respect Quilt, representing the themes and including a leaf signed by every student.

John Gibbons, Principal of Weston Middle School says that Jen Rudolph is “simply the finest social studies teacher” he has ever seen, and that, "none can compare to [her] exceptional gifts and skills.” Assistant Principal, Linda Butler adds, “Jen has the ability to envision an outcome which will bring students and faculty together…and produce a lasting effect.”  In his nomination letter, John Gibbons praises Ms. Rudolph for giving her students, “a strong sense of community and belonging.  He says that through reflection and self-assessment her students build an “incredible” level of “ independence” and who, with her guidance, “become self-directed, intrinsically motivated learners…. She is truly a master teacher. ”

Rachel Schaumberg, 2011

Rachel Schaumberg, Theater Arts and Drama Director at Crosby Middle School in Crosby, Texas began her string  of successes in education in Humble Texas. Under her leadership, the theatre and drama programs grew significantly in numbers and awards, receiving 1st place, best actress, best actor, and best crew.

Ms. Schaumberg also felt a debate team was a wonderful opportunity to involve all students, including minorities and students with various learning disabilities, to be a part of a growing program where the students could develop positive self esteem and learn skills that would carry them throughout life.

These programs and successes did not stop at Humble ISD and Cy-Fair ISD, but Crosby ISD is now the recipient of many successes as well. Not only does the Theatre and Debate department benefit from her talents, but the Language Arts Department does as well. In studying Greek mythology and fairytales, she and her students have written them in one act play formats to help the students have a better understanding. Under her direction, the students also have produced a movie parody of the movie Forest Gump which allowed the students to use computer and technical skills.

Some of her colleague’s comments were:  “she is a teacher that brings the best out in her students year after year;” “she is a one woman show;” “a born leader of people, a self-motivator.” She is devoted to showing kids that learning can be fun while keeping expectations high, but mostly she wanted each of them to know that she was dedicated and willing do whatever it takes to get each student to be successful. Knowing if you set the bar high, your students will rise to their full potential. Rachel instills in them the importance to believe in themselves.

CMS PRIDE program was created by Rachel to help the students be motivated in their everyday lives, at school and away from school:   P= punctuality, R= respect, I= integrity, D= determination, E= excellence. Ms. Schaumberg has been described as a true example of CMS PRIDE.

Barry Siebenthall, 2004

Barry Siebenthall, U.S. History teacher at RJ Fisher Middle School in the Los Gatos Union School District in Los Gatos, CA. arrived as a teacher at Fisher Middle School in the fall of 1993.Since that time, he has proven to be, in the words of his principal, Ken Lawrence-Emmanuel, “a gifted teacher whose warm and enthusiastic nature make him a favorite among students.  Barry helps every child succeed by creating a classroom that is safe, interesting, interactive, challenging and fun.”  He maintains a classroom climate of respect, fairness and courtesy. 

At the current time, Barry is a full-time teacher, teaching two seventh grade World History classes and three eighth grade U.S. History classes.  In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Barry is the History Department Chairperson, serves as Fisher’s Site Technology Support Assistant, and is the head coach for the eighth grade girls’ volleyball teams.

Barry’s philosophy of teaching is to provide interactive lessons that motivate and totally involve students in their own learning.  In fact, he has created several simulations for his seventh and eighth grade history classes that motivate students and instill a love of history for them--no easy task when one is working with middle school aged students!  The lessons that Barry presents are standards-based and promote cooperative learning, critical thinking and decision-making skills in his students. 

In being nominated for this Goldin Foundation Excellence in Education Award, three events created and coordinated by Barry were described again and again in the letters of nomination for him.  These three events are the Veterans’ Day Celebration, the seventh grade Medieval Faire, and the Geography Bee competition.  Barry’s history classes and these three annual events are key experiences that his students will take with them and remember many years into the future. 

To quote several of Barry’s students:  “I love Mr. Siebenthall as a teacher because he challenges students everyday, and because he’s deliciously funny.”  “Mr. Siebenthall’s class is so much fun.  We often work with partners and in groups.  He’s a bit of a neat freak, but that helps to teach us to keep ourselves better organized.”  “Mr. Siebenthall is a really good teacher.  He’s fun, but strict, and the way he teaches helps me learn a lot.”

Barry earns equal respect from his colleagues, his administration, and parents.  In addition to his Fisher duties, Barry has been an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces, serving in both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard for nineteen years.  He was voted as the NCO of the Year in 1995.  In addition, he has been a Civil War Re-enactor since he was sixteen years of age.  He has also shared his knowledge and love for history by performing in educational and recreational films for the History Channel and Hollywood. 

Barry is married and the father of three daughters.  He is active in his community and church, and he also has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. Clearly he is a very special and unique individual.

Deanna Silvi, 2000

Dee Silvi is a Grade 6 Teacher at the Johnson Middle School in Walpole. According to her nominators, she "is the epitome of what an invested educator should be in today’s world. She has the ability to invigorate each and every child under her domain to want to learn, grow, and explore other dimensions of knowledge, which enables that child to flourish as a person.” Her nominators note that she has a clear perspective on what will be challenging for each student yet not daunt one in his/her process of learning. 

Dee’s lessons and projects have a balance of content and assessment and practical application to real world experiences. Having a wonderful ability to integrate science and mathematics into investigatory units, she encourages interactive outlets for all levels of students. Students are encouraged to pursue their own directions, and they are challenged to seek broader and deeper vistas of learning on their own. “Dee seems to have an innate talent at directing students with a subtle touch that does not provide the solution but enhances the thirst on the part of the children to find it for themselves.” She introduced a science fair for her students several years ago, which is now part of the 8th Grade curriculum. The electric “Watt Watchers” Program made real life connections as students measured, analyzed findings, and solved problems about energy use at Johnson.

Several programs that Dee has developed have become hallmarks of her work and community collaboration. Each year her math students use their geometry skills to make a repetitive patterned design, which are then transformed into quilt squares. These squares are then sewn into lap quilts by parents and given to elders in the community. One quilt is raffled off to generate money for next year’s quilting materials. Another project that she has undertaken is the ”Box Tops for Education Program,” which has engaged the community in collecting box tops. This activity helped pay for a school video projector last year and which will pay for a video surveillance system for the front lobby at Johnson.

Dee is continuously engaged in professional growth opportunities both for herself and other teachers. She has conducted workshops in Walpole and surrounding communities such as: “Using Manipulative Materials in Math,” “How to Run a Science Fair,” ‘Integrating Technology in Math,” “ Using Hands-on Materials in Science,” “Developing Critical Questions, and “Cooperative Learning Techniques.” In collaboration with TEC (The Education Cooperative,), she developed curriculum for remedial work to improve MCAS scores in math.

Dee’s collegiality, positive attitude, and boundless energy to try new things are infectious. Clearly there is a ripple effect as her creative style has enriched students, teachers, and the community.

Sarah Straub 2012

Sarah Straub is the World Cultures teacher, Athletics Director, System Content Leader, and Asian Society International Studies School Network Coordinator for YES Prep Public Schools in Houston ISD.z

Nominators of Sarah state that she is a standout teacher and cite her exemplary qualities:

   *  is a driven, hard-working, innovative, and a compassionate individual

   *  engages students in creative learning activities that include real world experiences

       a variety of learning styles

   *  constantly searches for ways to improve her craft and further engage her students

   *  advocates for student needs by making strong connections with the

       community, parents, students, and school

Sarah teaches World Cultures in her school.  She engages students with learning activities that include real world experiences and technology in her classroom.  She has initiated Skype exchanges to provide a multitude of guest speakers into her classroom.  She constantly finds ways to infuse technology into her classroom, whether it is through documentary films, virtual exchanges, and teacher and student power point presentations, web quests, and research projects.  One such project finds the students serving as “case workers” for refugee families by engaging in authentic research, communication, and presentation skills.  Another classroom project was a world religions unit.  Sarah planned field trips for her students to visit seven different places of worship around the city of Houston.

As the founder and coordinator of the boys and girls soccer team, she has innovatively created partnerships with the different parks and community organizations, so that students without practice fields could have weekend practices and play organized soccer.

Mubeen Khumawala, 6th grade Mathematics Instructor, described Sarah’s resilience through various community projects.  “When people say, ‘No this can’t be done,’ Sarah positively moves forward.  She has worked diligently to lead students on community service trips for Panama and Guatemala at a fraction of the cost.  Sarah has created her own marketing campaign, writing grant letters, reaching out to personal friends through Facebook, and publicizing the trips in whatever way possible.  Currently she is on track to take twenty-five students to both Panama and Guatemala this year.”

Along with her teaching responsibilities, Sarah has founded many different clubs and organizations on the campus.  She initiated a Girls on Track Club, an organization that promotes self-esteem and helps girls with weight control.  In another initiative, YES U, Sarah spearheaded a program that allowed students to select courses in a variety of fields such as; self-defense, cooking, art interpretation, and exploratory science.  Sarah has also facilitated opportunities for many students who are in need of outside services.  She has worked within the community to provide glasses, braces, physicals, and transportation for students in need.

Sarah is a strong leader on her campus bringing positive influences and connections to her students, parents, fellow teachers, and her community.

Jane Tuohey, 2004

Jane Touhey is a Health and Physical Education Teacher at the Pollard Middle School. She is recognized by her peers as being very significant in helping to foster a unique environment at the Pollard Middle School, where she has initiated numerous programs that emphasize community support and participation. She came to Pollard in 1987, and while teaching health education, she helped design the Preparation for Adolescence Program. This was just the beginning of her initiatives. As a Physical Education teacher, Jane initiated dance, yoga, power walking and fitness programs. As a Health Education teacher, she designed a Grade 6 curriculum and incorporated units on Conflict Resolution. She has been instrumental in the development of Needham's Wellness Program for Grades 5-8.

 Her colleagues describe Jane as “caring, considerate, kind, patient, thoughtful and understanding.” Her work and intention at Pollard has taken her beyond the classroom, and into a role where she has supported, guided, and motivated adolescents. She is indeed a catalyst for encouraging involvement and discussion among adolescents. She has created and nurtured a Peer Mediation Program, an ambitious program that involves the selection and training of middle school students so that they may begin to learn and practice conflict resolution. These students also present workshops and information to both their peers and the faculty.

As Student Council Advisor she developed numerous programs, such Get A Star, Give a Gift, Food Baskets at Thanksgiving, and Spirit Days. Jane started the Pollard’s after school field hockey team, which went on to become a local league, and the girl's varsity volleyball team for former students. She has been a role model for students in community service and volunteer work. She not only devotes her own time to these efforts; she helps mentor students and has organized the middle school’s Students Take Action Day. She helped students become aware of and involved with young children infected with HIV/AIDS. This led to her QUILT PROJECT , an after school program where students learned how to create quilts. The result….five magnificent quilts were donated to the Children's AID's Program at the Boston Medical Center in Mattapan.
As Jane's colleagues point out, "Jane teaches more than skills. By her actions she instills values and encourages her students to be creative, curious, caring and sensitive individuals." Touhey will be retiring this coming year. The programs she has initiated and developed, as well as her deep care and passion for helping others, will no doubt be her legacy.
Joyce Wilson, 2006

Joyce Wilson is a Counselor at Crosby Middle School, in Crosby, Texas. She has been instrumental in producing a precious, tangible product:  middle school and high school students.  While she has long been associated with the Crosby School District as a math teacher, over the past 14 years she has served as a counselor in he same district, most recently in the middle school.   As a matter of fact, she is currently the only counselor for over 700 seventh and eighth grade students.

Mrs. Wilson has willingly taken on the task of guiding these young people both academically and personally.  Her ultimate goal is to promote academic excellence.  As a result, she does not let any student off the scholastic hook by letting him or her make easy choices.  She encourages each one to aim high in order to achieve the best education possible and to believe that he or she can succeed in those course choices.  She has placed a high value on education, but overriding even that is her belief that kids comeirst.  In spite of the mind-boggling amount of work involved in her job, she takes the time to get to know the young people she guides. She is an exceptional educator.

Jane Yavarow, 1995

Jane Yavarow is currently teaching geography and social studies at the Bird Middle School in Walpole. Jane has demonstrated excellence in the development of Geography Awareness Week held annually at Bird. The event has tremendous impact on the middle school children of Walpole. Students get involved at all levels - as a homeroom daily competing in the morning geography quiz question, as a grade level in their guest speaker lectures, as individuals in a wide variety of activities which occur during the school day or those that can be engaged in at home. Each year since 1988, Jane has designed a week of interdisciplinary activities in November based on the National Geography Awareness theme.

The National Geographic Society's Annual Geography Bee has also become a highly regarded event at the school. Ms. Yavarow provides classroom teachers with the materials and support necessary to conduct grade level contests. Jane always includes a well received presentation as an opening to this assembly such as a slide show of Geography Awareness Week of highlights of her summer excursions.

As described by parents, Ms. Yavarow has inspired children to learn more about the world around them and the many contributions made by other cultures that have shaped our identity as a nation and people. Students learn that geography requires far more than being able to identify places on a map: they explore the cultures that occupy such places, their histories, governments, and the environments in which they live. Jane uses her own experiences of foreign travel to bring the whole world into her classroom. She involves all her students in hands-on projects which encourage students to learn for themselves.