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Boston alum named Teacher of the Year

Anne Marie BettencourtAnne Marie Bettencourt ’04 came to Syracuse University to study screenwriting, but she quickly learned her passion was in education and community involvement. And while the ninth-grade English teacher at Springfield Central High School loves her job, learning that the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education named her Teacher of the Year still came as a surprise. Read the Boston Globe news story.

“The award was completely unexpected! In the semifinals, I was sure I’d lose to a teacher who had more experience or came from a more affluent school district,” says the New Bedford native. “However, they ended up selecting me—the youngest nominee! It was shocking and humbling.”

Bettencourt has been teaching in Springfield for seven years, spending her first two years teaching seventh grade at Chestnut Middle School before her current position at Central High School. She also serves as a ninth-grade team facilitator, working with students, parents, and the community.

“Teachers tend to love their subject, but Anne Marie lives hers,” Springfield Central High Principal Thaddeus Tokarz wrote in his letter of recommendation for Bettencourt.

Bettencourt says two individuals and experiences inspired her to go into teaching, and it started during her time at SU, where she earned a dual degree in English and Textual Studies, and Policy Studies.

“Dr. [William] Coplin's introduction to policy studies class and Pam Heintz from the Shaw Center for Public and Community Service are the two reasons that I’m here today, teaching in an inner city,” she says. “I was working in Wilson Park to fulfill a community service requirement for Dr. Coplin’s class and truly enjoyed the experience. Following that, I began working at the Shaw Center and became excited about teaching in an urban setting.”

Bettencourt went on to pursue a graduate degree in education at Springfield College, and the city seemed like the right place for her.

“During my program, I fell in love with the lifestyle in western Massachusetts, which allowed for me to pursue my outdoor passions like hiking. Additionally, the opportunity to be impactful in the city of Springfield schools inspired me to stay,” she says.

Beyond teaching, Bettencourt helps to mold future leaders, mentoring student teachers at Springfield College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also stays connected to SU through Dr. Coplin, who remains one of her own mentors.

Bettencourt hasn’t returned to the SU campus in nearly a decade, but she expects to change that this fall. “I’ve been invited to the Shaw Center’s 20th anniversary dedication, happening during Orange Central,” she says. “It will be my first time back on campus since graduation, and I’m honored to take part in such a wonderful celebration at the Shaw Center!”

In addition to teaching, Bettencourt served as the advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), the girls’ varsity tennis coach, and an Acting I teacher at Central High School. She has co-authored a book with Dr. Dan Zukergood from Springfield College about her student teaching experiences, titled Teaching in the Real World—Strategies to Survive and Thrive. Bettencourt credits much of her growth in teaching to the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, of which she is a co-director of development, and a teacher consultant. Through the Writing Project, she’s taught several classes for teachers on ideas of content literacy, designing an effective writing curriculum, and principles of Understanding By Design curriculum planning.

Bettencourt lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts, with her fiancé, Abe, and their dog, Truman.