‘Teachers of the Year’ named in Marlborough
Marlborough – Marlborough's United Brethren Masonic Lodge has selected its “Teachers of the Year” for 2011, an annual award to honor teachers for the pivotal part they play in the lives of the community's children and in preparing students for positive roles in society.
After interviewing all the finalists selected by the school district, the Masons chose Alexia Forhan and Kathy Regan from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, and Erin Casey from the Marlborough Public Schools. The teachers were honored May 20 at the Masonic Lodge at the corner of Main and Newton streets.
The honorees were chosen for their passion for teaching, and their ability to go “above and beyond” what is expected in their roles as teachers, mentors and team members. Their students have also enjoyed sustained success in the classroom and beyond, explained Master of the Lodge Andrew Staley, also a teacher at MassBay Community College.
Alexia Forhan is the Academic Teacher of the Year for Assabet, where she is an 11-year veteran of the science department. Forhan has made biology more engaging by emphasizing hands-on learning and real-life applications. She's introduced biotech and forensics programs, which include autopsies and field trips to the U.S. Army's Natick Labs.
Forhan wrote the curriculum for Assabet's online biology course, which allows at-risk students to learn on their own schedule outside of school. This meant that Forhan was on-call 24/7, a testament to her dedication to the students.
She has won grants for the department from organizations such as Best Buy, which have resulted in obtaining computer equipment, including the 10 computers in her classroom. Students can subscribe to her classroom podcasts on their iPhones, share them with their parents – who are also able to monitor student grades online. Assabet's Director of Curriculum and Student Assessment Robert McCann is a Forhan supporter.
“She is by far one of the most technically savvy instructors we have, and this works extremely well with the students,” McCann said.
Another validation of her methods – 100 percent of her students have passed the MCAS exam over the past four years.
Forhan, a daughter of Greek immigrants who grew up in Worcester and worked for Fallon Community Health Plan, says the inspiration for a teacher is that you leave school every day “with a certain amount of satisfaction that you are helping kids and have an important part in their lives.”
Kathy Regan is a registered nurse who worked in that field for 18 years before deciding that she enjoyed teaching enough to make that her full-time profession. Regan is Vocational Teacher of the Year for Assabet, where she's been part of the Health Technologies Department for the past eight years. Most of her students want to become RNs, while others become sports trainers and EMTs. Many earn certification as nursing and medical assistants while still in school. Over the past seven years, 100 percent of her students have passed these exams.
Her students intern at Marlborough Hospital, as well as area skilled nursing facilities, and these organizations have called the school to request more students.
Lead Instructor in Health Technologies Karen Sherman appreciates Regan's abilities.
“The facilities know Ms. Regan's reputation for professionalism and outstanding patient care, such that when a student applies for a jobâ€¦they are pretty much guaranteed a position,” Sherman said.
Regan knows that working with patients makes education come to life for students. She is gratified when pupils return from a health care facility bedside, excited that a patient or resident held their hand.
“I tell them, that's what it's all about,” she says.
Regan, who lives in Lowell, is also thrilled when graduates come back to tell her they pursued successful health care careers because of her.
Marlborough Public honoree
Erin Casey is only in her third year teaching eighth-grade math at Marlborough High School, but she's been nominated for this award the past two of those years. Not only does this Teacher of the Year from the Marlborough Public School System make her time available to help students with her own classes, but Casey is available to help students struggling with any subject.
Fellow Math Teacher Joy Collier sites an example of Casey's dedication.
On February 18, “As most of the staff were wishing everyone a nice relaxing February vacation, Mrs. Casey was in her classroom teaching three algebra students specific concepts they are required to know for Geometry Honors,” Collier said.
Standard classroom lectures aren's enough. In order to excel as a teacher, instructors must know the students” needs and tailor their instruction accordingly. Casey makes a point to know each of her students” strengths and challenges, as well as their MCAS scores, so that she has a firm grasp of how to help them. In fact, she has their scores memorized, according to Collier.
Casey, who has been teaching more than a dozen years and lives in Bolton, is a leader of the teaching staff, coordinates math assessments to ensure consistent grading, and rewrites most of the pre-algebra curriculum to align with published standards. She advises first-year teachers, provides support with lesson planning, assessments and technology use – all with the goal of improving the teaching experience for staff and for students.
United Brethren Lodge's Teacher of the Year Award is one of several programs supported by Masons that focus on children, the most vulnerable members of society, explains Mike Miller, the coordinator of this year's award. Other supported programs include the Child Identification Program (mychip.org) which has helped parents create identification records for more than 275,000 children, and the Masonic Angel Fund (masonicangelfund.org) which helps school nurses, teachers and administrators pay for personal items for students in need, such as winter coats, shoes and book bags. The United Brethren also support Children's Dyslexia Centers and the state's Shriners Hospitals for Children.
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