Bertram to be Honored With 'Teacher in Excellence' Award
Peabody High English teacher Lawrie Bertram is one of 15 AP teachers being honored by Mass Insight Education for greatly contributing toward students' success this year.
"I don’t even know why I’m being awarded honestly…I guess I’ll find out next week," Peabody High English teacher Lawrie Bertram told the School Committee recently.
Bertram was referring to a Teacher in Excellence award she's receiving March 7 for her efforts in a partnership initiative with a Boston-based nonprofit to boost college readiness and teacher training by expanding and improving the school's Advanced Placement courses in math, English and science.
And Bertram was being modest, according to school officials and those honoring her.
Superintendent Joe Mastrocola described the award as an "incredible honor," attributing it to her leadership in the AP program. The award is given to teachers for their "exemplary contributions to student success."
Bertram teaches English literature and composition at PVMHS and is also the National Honor Society advisor.
"You were being humble too," added School Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne, noting Bertram also won an award last year in which she traveled to an AP testing center and helped grade exams.
"That was a huge honor in itself. It is nice to congratulate you again tonight," said Dunne. "I don’t think anyone here should be surprised that you won an award."
Bertram is one of 15 teachers being honored Thursday with the special award from Mass. Insight Education, which has partnered with high schools across Massachusetts since 2008 (Peabody joined the program in 2009).
In particular, the Mass. Math and Science Initiative seeks to expand AP course offerings and increase student participation and achievement.
The honorees, who will be recognized at a dinner at the Boston Museum of Science, were chosen from among 548 AP teachers at high schools enrolled in the MMSI program. This is the first year of the award.
"It has been a remarkable opportunity for the teachers to take part in this AP program," Bertram said, adding she believes it's made great strides with academic achievement for students over the past few years.
She said adjusting to the program, for all involved, in Peabody wasn't entirely a smooth transition -- strong concerns were raised at the outset over cash performance incentives for teachers and students -- but the results have been worth it.
"It seems to have shifted the culture a bit. It’s cool to be smart, and I think that’s a really good thing," she said.
She said due credit goes to all the teachers involved in the AP program -- "We’re turning out students who are ready for the next level of academic and career challenges."
Mass Insight spokesman Tom De Santes said a group of individuals, corporations and foundations supporting MMSI have created awards, such as "Teacher in Excellence," to recognize top teachers in the program who have greatly aided student achievement.
The group, Partners in Excellence, is also giving each winner a little extra incentive ($1,000), which will be presented at Thursday night's dinner.
“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 Partners in Excellence Co-Chair Joshua Boger in a statement.
“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,” he said.
“When we support our teachers, our students succeed,” said Mort Orlov, the president for MMSI. “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.”