A ninth grade English teacher at Springfield Central High School has been singled out for a top honor in her profession in Massachusetts.
Anne Marie Bettencourt said it was a teacher who convinced her to stay in school when she was a student at New Bedford High School. Now she pays it forward as she works in a program to improve the graduation rate at Springfield Central High School where she teaches freshman English. Bettencourt was introduced as Massachusetts Teacher of The Year at a surprise program on Tuesday in the school’s library.
Many of Bettencourt’s current students cheered the news. Student Courtney Stewart said Bettencourt deserves the recognition.
After staying in school and graduating from high school, Bettencourt went to Syracuse University aspiring to be a screenwriter, but she discovered her calling to teach while mentoring children at a youth center.
She started teaching after graduating from Springfield College in 2006. She’s been teaching ninth grade English language arts at Central High School since 2008. Bettencourt said she works to get her students to realize their hidden potential by instilling confidence and believing in them.
Bettencourt’s colleagues said she exemplifies what is great about the teaching profession. Springfield Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick praised Bettencourt’s work in a new program to persuade students to stay in school.
Last year more than 90 percent of Bettencourt’s students moved on to the 10th grade, compared with roughly 50 percent of ninth- graders across the district.
Mitchell Chester, the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education praised Bettencourt for her passion. He said meeting her for the first time was a memorable experience.
Chester said two of the last three Massachusetts Teachers of the Year have come from urban schools. Two years ago the winner was a teacher in Boston.
The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year program is run by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. After the staff vets nominees an independent review panel that includes a past winner of the award interviews five finalists and recommends the winner to the state’s education commissioner.
Bettencourt automatically becomes the state’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year.