State honors two MTA members

In a Statehouse ceremony June 12, George Watson a Walpole High School Spanish teacher, was named the 2008-2009 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and David B. Mitchell, Masconomet Regional High School History teacher, was named the state’s 2008 Preserve America History Teacher of the Year.

Watson, who lives in Mansfield, has been Department Head of Foreign Languages in Walpole since 1980, according to the state DESE. Over the course of his teaching career, Watson has committed himself to proficiency based instruction in language, and believes that what is important is what his students can do with language in terms of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Watson "establishes a relationship of mutual respect with each of his students, works tirelessly to develop and improve curriculum in his classroom and in the Foreign Language Department, and involves himself in numerous professional development activities," wrote fellow teacher Lisa Osborne in a letter of recommendation. "George is sincere and compassionate with every teacher and student he comes in contact with."

David MitchellMitchell, a resident of Wakefield, has taught History/Social Studies at Masconomet Regional High School since 1995. He began his career with the Teach for America Program at an elementary school in Los Angeles.

"David's passion for the use of primary source documents in teaching American History is evident," wrote Social Studies Department Chair Patricia Puglisi in her letter of recommendation. "To be able to watch David in action as he introduces students to the documents and guides them through their understanding of historical events is even more inspiring."

The Preserve America History Teacher of the Year is a White House initiative and is sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History. Mitchell will represent Massachusetts in the national program and is a candidate for the national award. He succeeds Ann O'Halloran of Newton, the 2007 honoree.

The 2009 Teacher of the Year finalists were:

  • Nancy G. Barile, Revere High School
  • Linda O'Donnell, South Elementary School, Andover
  • Sylvia Pabreza, Fannie E. Proctor Elementary School, Northborough
  • Chris Louis Sardella, Marian E. Zeh Elementary School, Northborough
  • Susan W. Teece, William E. Norris Elementary School, Southampton

The Teacher of the Year semifinalists were:

  • John W. Denison, Jr., Stoughton High School
  • Susan Nichols, Douglas Intermediate Elementary School
  • John N. Papadonis, Burlington Science Center
  • Rosemary C. Rak, Taunton High School
  • Katie Neill Sewell, Holbrook Junior Senior High School

The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year is automatically the state's candidate for National Teacher of the Year. While remaining in the classroom, Watson will serve as ambassador to the teaching profession over the next year by making speeches and conducting workshops throughout the state. He succeeds Michael Flynn, who received the Teacher of the Year award last year.

--From Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education media release

Teachers of the year and Anne WassMichael Flynn, left, 2008 Teacher of the year with MTA President Anne Wass and 2009 Teacher of the Year George Watson.