Sanderson Academy kindergarten teacher honored with Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award

  • Sarah Forbes, a kindergarten teacher at Sanderson Academy in Ashfield, has won a Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

For the Recorder
Published: 3/18/2022 4:06:40 PM
Modified: 3/18/2022 4:06:01 PM

ASHFIELD — Sarah Forbes didn’t expect to welcome Mohawk Trail Regional School District Superintendent Sheryl Stanton and Curriculum and Instruction Director Sarah Jetzon into her kindergarten classroom earlier this month.

The two administrators arrived to present the Sanderson Academy teacher with a 2022 Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award.

“I was so surprised. As a classroom teacher of young children, my days are so focused on the work of learning — to share and count, write letters and get snow pants on — I wasn’t really thinking about anyone else noticing the work I am doing with my students,” Forbes said in a Mohawk Trail press release. “I love teaching kindergarten and I am proud to teach in the district in which I live. I feel honored to have my work recognized by my esteemed colleagues with this award.”

The Excellence in Teaching Awards program is made possible by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in partnership with the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation. As such, the award is often referred to as the Grinspoon Award. More than 100 educators in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties receive the award each year, according to the program’s website.

Forbes, who comes from a family of several generations of teachers, has worked as a Mohawk Trail district educator since 2008, starting as a reading interventionist at Colrain Central School, according to the release. She has taught kindergarten at Sanderson Academy since 2016.

“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher,” Forbes said in the release. “I love seeing my students grow in confidence and develop a love of school. I especially enjoy watching them begin to read. I am devoted to giving my students an engaging experience as they enter the world of school.”

Forbes received the award for being a “dynamic, dedicated teacher that always puts the academic and social-emotional needs of students at the forefront,” according to Sanderson Academy Principal Emma Liebowitz.

“Sarah’s commitment to a child-centered approach to teaching and learning is unmatched,” Liebowitz said in the press release. “It is truly magical to watch her engage with students. She prioritizes knowing each child individually and developmentally in order to give ‘just right’ instruction to all her students. Her ability to create an inclusive learning environment is impressive.”

Forbes will be honored during a banquet at the Log Cabin in Holyoke on May 4. The program will feature a celebratory awards presentation honoring the winners, who will each get an engraved plaque and a check for $250, along with tuition incentives and scholarships offered by seven local colleges and universities — Elms College, Bay Path University, Mount Holyoke College, Springfield College, Western New England University, Westfield State University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Winners also receive a membership with WGBY and access to thousands of digital education resources, as well as three-month memberships at the Springfield Jewish Community Center and one of the six regional YMCAs.

In addition, all 2022 winners are invited to apply for the $250 Classroom Innovator Prize, for which teachers can submit a project-based learning idea. Up to 30 prizes will be awarded.


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