Three Boston Public Schools teachers are among 15 from across the state to be selected for the first-ever Teacher in Excellence Awards for their contributions to student achievement in the Mass Math + Science Initiative.
The award-winners are Audrey Schindler McDonald, an English teacher from East Boston High School; Fred Pontillas, a biology teacher from the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science in Roxbury; and Sarah Varsanik, a calculus teacher from Brighton High School. They will receive their awards in a celebration on March 7 at the Museum of Science.
The awards are presented by Mass Insight Education, a 16-year-old Boston-based nonprofit group that works to close achievement gaps in public schools, and are funded by Partners in Excellence, a group of philanthropists, businesses, educational institutions, and foundations that supports quality teaching in science, technology, engineering, and math.
“By investing in teacher excellence, our goal is to help underwrite the risk teachers assume when they open access to Advanced Placement to all students,” said Joshua Boger, founding co-chair of Partners in Excellence, in a statement released by Mass Insight Education.
“As long as we hold out excellence as a possible pathway for everybody in the school system, then we will have the greatest educational system and we will have a workforce that is both effective and happy,” Boger said.
The Mass Math + Science Initiative is a program designed to increase participation and improve performance in Advanced Placement science, math, and English courses. It offers intensive training in course subject matter and teaching methods to teachers of AP courses and currently has 548 participating educators.
Over the past four years, teachers in the program have helped double the number of students taking AP classes and achieving qualifying scores in English, math, and science, according to the statement from Mass Insight Education.
“When we support our teachers, our students succeed,” Mort Orlov, president of the Mass Math + Science Initiative, said in the statement. “These teachers have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to their schools, their peers and their students, a commitment we are thrilled to recognize through these awards.”