By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Despite COVID-19, the annual Masonic Teacher of the Year award winner and two finalists were recently honored at a small ceremony behind the 1LT Charles W. Whitcomb School in Marlborough. Whitcomb Reading Specialist and Intervention Program Coordinator Jen Ryan took home top honors.
The award goes to three teachers nominated by their peers. In addition to Ryan, High School Instruction Technology Specialist Chris Henry and retiring third-grade teacher at the Sgt. Charles J. Jaworek Elementary School, Claire Nicholson, were finalists.
Ryan has taught in the Marlborough school system for 15 years, as a special education teacher and as a reading specialist at the Whitcomb School. She said she was both “surprised and honored,” not knowing if this award would even be given this year.
“It’s such an unexpected honor, really exciting and it’s always good to know you’re on the right track,” she said.
Ryan said she originally didn’t go to college thinking of becoming a teacher but changed her mind quickly after taking education elective classes and then continuing on to a graduate degree.
At the ceremony, Whitcomb Principal Brian Daniels said he felt lucky to be a recipient of Ryan’s advice and counsel.
“I’m blessed to have her voice and the work she’s done creating our intervention team,” he said.
The nomination letter on Ryan’s behalf, written by Reading Specialist Jen Smith, noted that “Ryan has the ability to foster growth, warmth and security in her middle school students while at the same time getting them to grow academically.”
This year Ryan said she will be teaching three literacy classes in grades 6 and 7. She also leads the three-year roll out of a new data assessment tool that reading specialists use to track literacy progress of each student. According to her peers, she is the “go to” for help with the critical new program.
Henry was described by the district’s Director of Instructional Technology Tom Plati as the “ultimate team” player, involved in many extracurricular activities including Drama Club and the spring musicals.
Several colleagues of Nicholson wished her well in retirement but spoke about how much they are going to miss her leadership and how she had organized so many special fundraising events as well as third-grade Pajama Day, Cranberry Day and more.