|By G. Michael Dobbs
Mayor Domenic Sarno congratulated Anne Marie Bettencourt, an English teacher at Central High School, after the announcement that she has been named the state's Teacher of the Year.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD For Anne Marie Bettencourt, a ninth grade English Language Arts teacher at Central High School, one of the largest parts of teaching is noticing one's students every day, paying attention to their needs.
Bettencourt's approach certainly received affirmation on May 7 as she was named the 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester formally presented Bettencourt the honor before her colleagues, students and city officials in the Central High School library.
Bettencourt is the 52nd teacher to receive this honor and will be state's candidate in the national teacher of the year program.
Tim Collins, president of the Springfield Education Association, explained the Teacher of the Year process is overseen by the Massachusetts Teacher Association and said they have an "excellent vetting process."
Collins called Bettencourt "an excellent representation of the teachers in Springfield."
Springfield School Superintendent Daniel Warwick said that Bettencourt is part of the ninth grade academy program at Central High School, which has brought forth better educational results.
He noted, "The initiative doesn't make the difference. It's the teachers who make the difference."
Chester said that meeting with Bettencourt was "a remarkable experience for me."
Bettencourt said she was "overwhelmed" by her selection. "The night I got the phone call my jaw hit the floor," she added.
She sees the honor as one directed at all of the teachers at Central High School.
Bettencourt has been teaching in the Springfield system for seven years two at Chestnut Middle School and five at Central. A native of New Bedford, she graduated from Syracuse University where she discovered a love of teaching. She received her master's degree in education from Springfield College in 2006.
Bettencourt said that a teacher who paid attention to her in high school schools made a huge difference.
"My own high school career was going to end my sophomore year," she said until a teacher urged her to take Advanced Placements classes.
"That teacher noticed something in me that I didn't see myself," she added.
She said, "Paying attention to the head on a desk or a hoodie up is the difference between success and failure."
Her principal, Thaddeus Tokarz, wrote in his letter of recommendation for her that "teachers tend to love their subject, but Anne Marie lives hers. She is extremely knowledgeable about both literary and grammatical aspects of English and demonstrates this knowledge by effectively teaching over 120 first year high school students; keeping them engaged in inquiry, striving for mastery themselves and by leading and modeling civic engagements by participating in school based events, coaching and speaking out on issues of concern."
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