OAK BLUFFS — The Baker-Polito administration today announced that Danielle “Dani” Charbonneau, an English teacher at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, is Massachusetts’ 2023 Teacher of the Year. Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley announced the award today during a ceremony at the school. Ms. Charbonneau is also the coordinator of the Alternate High School Program, a program designed to engage students who did not thrive in the traditional high school structure.
The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year program is the state’s highest award for educators and annually recognizes excellence in teaching across the Commonwealth through the selection of a teacher who exemplifies the dedication, commitment and positive contributions from educators across the state.
“Ms. Charbonneau is a caring and engaged teacher who supports students at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in a meaningful way, preparing them for success inside and outside of the classroom,” said Gov. Charlie Baker “We are proud to recognize her as Massachusetts’ 2023 Teacher of the Year.”
“Teachers like Ms. Charbonneau help make Massachusetts a leader in education, and her many years in the classroom have undoubtedly helped countless students grow and thrive,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “We are grateful for her hard work and ability to build supportive relationships with students and their families.”
Ms. Charbonneau is the first teacher from Martha’s Vineyard to become Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. She is the 61st recipient of this award and automatically becomes Massachusetts’ nominee for the National Teacher of the Year program.
Ms. Charbonneau is in her 18th year of teaching and her seventh year of teaching English Language Arts with the high school’s alternative program, which is called Project Vine. She was hired in 2016 and has worked with administrators, colleagues, and students to restructure alternative classrooms into an all-volunteer program that aims to increase student engagement in the school and broader community to reduce chronic absenteeism and dropout rates. Due to the success of the program, there is a waiting list for acceptance.
Project Vine’s small staff is committed to both the academic day and the additional activities the program organizes throughout the year. These include a “Chopped for Charity” fundraiser in which teams participate in a kitchen to benefit the Island Food Pantry and, separately, an annual tech-free retreat.
In class, Ms. Charbonneau carefully builds relationships with her students, some of whom she teaches for four years. She learns what interests them and builds on that, adjusting her teaching to include material that will keep them engaged.
In addition to her classroom work, Ms. Charbonneau has been a co-advisor of the Gender Sexuality Alliance at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School since 2018. Additionally, she is a member of the school’s Race-Equity and Cultural Proficiency Group, which in 2020 helped create lessons in response to the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed. Topics included media literacy, overlooked events in American history, and detecting bias in statistics.
Prior to joining Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, Ms. Charbonneau taught at Plymouth North High School in Plymouth, and before that at Westfield High School in New Jersey. During the summer, she volunteers at Camp Fatima in New Jersey, a free summer camp for children with significant disabilities.
“Ms. Charbonneau and her colleagues at Project Vine provide an important option for high school students in Martha’s Vineyard,” Education Secretary James Peyser said. “She has created a welcoming space for students to learn in the classroom. and in the community.”
“Ms. Charbonneau knows that learning begins with a student,” said K-12 Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “Her commitment to adapting the school to student needs has prepared her students for success. in the classroom and beyond.”
“Thanks to a creative, dynamic and enterprising educational approach, Ms. Charbonneau has built classrooms where students can flourish,” said Senator Julian Cyr. “I am sincerely grateful to Ms. Charbonneau and her colleagues at Project Vine for their dedicated, thoughtful and engaging work. »
“I would like to congratulate Ms. Charbonneau on this well-deserved honor,” said Representative Dylan A. Fernandes. “Her dedication and commitment to her students is commendable, and we are extremely fortunate to have such an exemplary educator in our district.”
The selection process for Massachusetts’ 2023 Teacher of the Year began in January with a call for nominations from administrators, teachers, students, parents and others. An initial review of each nominated teacher’s application led to the selection of 12 semi-finalists, who then submitted additional supporting documentation. Five finalists were selected and interviewed by a panel that included former Massachusetts Teachers of the Year. This panel then recommended two candidates to Commissioner Riley.
In addition to Charbonneau, this year’s award finalists were:
-Shakeeda Bartee, English teacher at UP Academy Boston;
-Sally Kim, math teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School, Springfield Public Schools;
-Jessica Lander, who teaches history and social studies to English learners at Lowell High School, Lowell Public Schools; and Veronica Rowlinson, English teacher at Somerville High School, Somerville Public Schools.
The semi-finalists were:
-William Guerra, science teacher at Lunenburg Middle-High School, Lunenburg Public Schools;
-Samantha McKee, second-grade teacher at Atlantis Charter School in Fall River;
-Sandra Kozatek, Special Education Reading Specialist at Swansea Public Schools;
-Marissa Ramos, English teacher at Forest Park Middle School, Springfield Public Schools;
-Doug Scott, technology and engineering teacher at Hopkinton High School, Hopkinton Public Schools;
-Shannon Sheldon, fifth grade teacher at Gilmore Elementary School, Brockton Public Schools; and
-Jedediyah Williams, math and computer science teacher at Nantucket High School, Nantucket Public Schools.
“We are all incredibly proud of Ms. Charbonneau and delighted to see her recognized for her support of our students and the school community. Dani is a wonderful colleague who builds strong relationships with our students and staff and is representative of the hard work and dedication of all MVYPS staff in our care for the children of our island,” said Martha’s Vineyard Superintendent Richard Mr. Smith. “We are also very proud of the work our students do in Project Vine and of all of our MVYPS students in their endeavors in our classrooms and our community.”
“Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School has an incredible team of educators,” said principal Sara Dingledy. “Ms. Charbonneau is a wonderful representative of our school and it is a pleasure to see her recognized in this way.
Danielle Charbonneau holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Harvard University and an MA in Educational Leadership from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine.
“There is immeasurable value in public education, but we have to be dynamic to be relevant. Students have every right to expect to encounter and explore new ideas, to experience joy, and to be rewarded for their attendance with genuine accomplishments that are meaningful to them,” Ms. Charbonneau wrote in her request. “We need to take a hard look at how best to help this very precarious generation, be honest with ourselves about what works and what just preserves the status quo, and be bold enough to make the changes that need to happen in our classrooms and in our schools. »
Charbonneau, a graduate of Falmouth High School, lives in Osterville with his wife and family.