Six HPS award winners were nominated by their colleagues
Six Holyoke Public Schools educators were surprised and honored on March 1, 2022 when their classroom doors were opened by Superintendent Anthony Soto bearing flowers, balloons, and a proclamation from Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia to let them know they were selected to receive Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards this year.
Since 2003, the award has been distributed annually to honor Western Massachusetts educators for their dedication and excellence. Winners are nominated by their colleagues based upon the following suggested criteria: excellence in teaching practices, subject mastery and scholarship, effectiveness and creativity, impact on students, support of and positive impact upon other teachers’ practice, participation in professional development, evidence of going above and beyond the classroom and school community.
More than 100 Western Massachusetts educators are honored each year. This year’s Excellence in Teaching Award winners from Holyoke include:
Nana Boadu Ansah, a Grade 3 English Language Arts teacher at Morgan School, honored for her commitment to excellent and equitable education that can be seen and felt throughout her classroom. She takes extra steps to ensure every student is meeting their potential and is receiving the support they need to get there.
Mary Becker, an English Second Language (ESL) teacher at Kelly School, honored for her dedication to the growth of her students and her colleagues, as well as the growth of her own practice. She embodies the ideal that all students are capable of achievement and is a model of the perseverance it takes to be a successful teacher.
Mario Feliciano, an English Second Language (ESL) teacher at Holyoke High School Dean Campus, where he integrates ESL into vocational education. He took on a Teacher Leader role this year as the ESL Team Lead, collaborating with a colleague to develop a model classroom for co-teaching English that has resulted in a turnaround in ELA MCAS scores.
Corinne Moguel, a school counselor at the Holyoke STEM Academy, where her number one priority is the social and emotional growth of students. She goes above and beyond as a fierce advocate for students and their families to ensure they have access to the services they need, as well as necessities such as food, clothing, and medication.
Abigail McAndrew, a Grade 4 English Language Arts teacher at McMahon School, where she focuses on the well-being of her students and their growth. She makes learning relevant and exciting, while individualizing instruction to meet her student’ needs. Outside of the classroom, she serves as a coach, a role model and a safe, trusted adult.
Caron Dewey, a teacher in the RISE Program at Holyoke High School North, honored for her patience and compassion and for setting the highest of expectations for students. She creates exciting, relevant, and engaging hands-on activities for students, thinking outside the box and putting students first while working in partnership with their families.
The six HPS award recipients will be honored during an in-person banquet at the Log Cabin in Holyoke on May 11, where they will each receive an engraved plaque and a check for $250, along with tuition incentives and scholarships offered by seven major colleges and universities in the region—Elms College, Bay Path University, Mount Holyoke College, Springfield College, Western New England University, Westfield State University, and the University of Massachusetts. Winners will also receive memberships at WGBY and access to thousands of digital education resources, along with three-month memberships at the Springfield Jewish Community Center and at one of six regional YMCAs.
In addition, all 2022 winners are invited to apply for the selective Classroom Innovator Prize of $250. Created to foster educators’ interest and engagement in Project-Based Learning, teachers can submit a project-based learning idea. Up to 30 prizes will be given. Teachers interested in this creative teaching methodology will be supported by instructional webinars, created by HGCF in collaboration with GBH Boston and WGBY and led by national project-based learning expert and author Suzie Boss.
The prestigious Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award is made possible by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation. Other business and community support comes from American International College, Arrha Credit Union, Country Bank, and Meyers Brothers Kalicka.