Marlborough-Paula Coyne, a special education teacher at the Whitcomb Middle School, was honored as Marlborough's Public School Teacher of the Year May 16, with a gala dinner attended by 50 friends, family, fellow educators and state and local dignitaries.
The annual award, established and administered by United Brethren Masonic Lodge of Marlborough, honors teachers for the pivotal part they play in the lives of the community's children and in preparing students for positive roles in society.
Coyne, a lifetime Marlborough resident, has been a teacher since 1979 and is known among her peers as not only going above and beyond to help her
students, but also for collaborating with and mentoring fellow teachers. Coyne helps younger teachers develop their skills, helps new teachers adapt to the environment, and promotes camaraderie among the staff.
“Paula is one of these amazing and cherished individuals that volunteer for everything,” said Whitcomb Principal Mary Murphy. “She is always there for the team, the school, and the district.”
Coyne was presented in-person proclamations recognizing her achievement by State Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough, and Mayor Arthur Vigeant, and another from State Sen. Jaime Eldridge, D-Middlesex/Worcester. Two finalists for the award, Traci Cappadona and Shannon Oles, also were honored at the gala. Along with Coyne, they received plaques, engraved clocks and honorariums to invest in classroom materials.
School Superintendent Stephen Dlott praised the Masons for their annual program to recognize teachers and stated that what makes teachers like Coyne, Cappadona and Oles stand out is plain hard work.
“You give 180 performances a year for kids who count on you,” Dlott said. “And there are countless hours that go into preparing for those performances.”
A key to Coyne's success with special education students is making sure “they know that you care about them and that they can trust you,” Coyne said. One of her greatest motivations is seeing her students finally “get” something they's been struggling with, such as a challenging math problem.
“After their family, there is no one more important to the lives and success of young people than their teachers,” noted Joseph Delano, Marlborough City Council member and a leader of the award committee, and who counts four teachers among his immediate family. “Everyone I talk to can tell a story about a favorite teacher from grade school that really made a lasting impact on their lives.”
Cappadona and Oles, like Coyne, were nominated for the award by their peers based on their dedication, innovation and impact on their students. They were selected as finalists by the Office of the Superintendent. Cappadona, a second-grade teacher at Jaworek Elementary with 22 years of experience in Marlborough, is known as an early adopter, bringing in new technology as soon as possible to help her students. Shannon Oles, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Whitcomb, has been teaching for five years. She makes a point to weave into her lessons current events to which students can relate.
To learn more about Marlborough's United Brethren Lodge and its activities, visit http://www.unitedbrethrenlodge.org.