Community Charter School of Cambridge science teacher Heather Haines has been selected as one of 11 semifinalists in the 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program. Each year, hundreds of teachers from public schools across the Commonwealth are nominated, and all go through a rigorous application and interview process, leading up to the final selection in early May. The winner will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year Program, and acts as an ambassador for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education during the 2013-14 school year. Ms. Haines and the other semifinalists will be recognized on June 13 at the annual Teacher of the Year award ceremony held at the State House in Boston.
A Knowles Science Teaching Fellow since 2008, Ms. Haines joined the CCSC faculty in 2010. She teaches chemistry and AP chemistry to students in grades 10-12. In addition to chairing as the school’s science department, she is the co-leader of the faculty’s video study group and serves as an advisor to students in the class of 2016.
"Roundly respected by her peers, Heather has distinguished herself in so many ways at CCSC,” says Caleb Hurst-Hiller, CCSC head of school. “She is an innovative teacher who pushes her students beyond what they themselves are convinced is possible. She is a reflective practitioner, opening her classroom to all and soliciting feedback from many. We are truly fortunate to count her as a member of our dedicated and talented faculty.”
Raised in Illinois in a family of teachers, Ms. Haines attended Wellesley College, where she majored in chemistry and minored in education studies. She earned her master’s in secondary education in chemistry at Boston College.
As much as teaching is in her blood, Ms. Haines believes we are all born scientists, and that her job as a teacher is “to help students develop a scientific literacy that will allow them to see the world with a new set of eyes.” Below is an excerpt from the application Ms. Haines submitted to the Teacher of the Year program, describing her personal mission as a science educator:
The gift I hope to give to my students is the notion that we are born scientists. All of the facts we have collected and words we have invented for science came from someone wondering, “How?” or “Why?” Many of my students come to my classroom thinking they do not personally know any scientists, and I hope they leave with a realization that they are already scientists and that they, too, can use their natural abilities to engineer a better water bottle, become exquisite chefs, and develop new alternative energy sources. I empower my students to ask the same questions as scientists who came before and show them how they can use their natural curiosity to dazzle the world.