When Timothy Howard, principal of the Kelley School in Chelsea, Mass., called his elementary school students to their monthly assembly in September, both children and faculty were surprised to find U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon on stage to present an award to reading specialist Joanne Jackmauh.
Jackmauh won the “American Star of Teaching” award for Massachusetts in a nationwide competition that recognizes teachers who have made a difference in the classroom. The Chelsea School District, run by Boston University under a contract with the Chelsea School Committee for the past 16 years, has been revitalized during that time. Students’ Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores improved considerably this year. “I accepted this on behalf of all of my colleagues,” says Jackmauh. “In a school system, you can’t do anything on your own.” The 10-year employee of the Chelsea School District was chosen from more than 2,000 applicants.
Jackmauh, who also specializes in early childhood education, monitors the progress of students at the Kelley School by helping them reach three reading benchmarks during the school year. Through this process, she helps students meet the standards of the No Child Left Behind Act.
“Joanne was very modest. She accepted [the award] very humbly, but she has done a great job,” says Howard. “She is very passionate about teaching — especially teaching kids to read, which is her specialty.”