Pioneer Valley surprises educators with 2021 Grinspoon Awards

  • BernardstonElemenatary School Teacher Lauren Clary was awarded the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award Friday and gifted a certificate for the award, balloons and a bouquet of flowers from Adria Lowry Unique Floral Design in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

  • Pioneer Valley Regional School Teacher Claire Brennan was awarded the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award and gifted a certificate for the award, balloons and a bouquet of flowers from Adria Lowry Unique Floral Design in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

  • Bernardston Elemenatary School Teacher Lauren Clary was awarded the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award Friday and gifted a certificate for the award, balloons and a bouquet of flowers from Adria Lowry Unique Floral Design in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

  • Pioneer Valley Regional School Teacher Claire Brennan was awarded the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award and gifted a certificate for the award, balloons and a bouquet of flowers from Adria Lowry Unique Floral Design in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

Staff Writer
Published: 3/21/2021 3:55:11 PM

NORTHFIELD – The Pioneer Valley Regional School District honored two educators by surprising them with this year’s Grinspoon Award for excellence in teaching.

Bernardston Elementary School Teacher Lauren Clary and Pioneer Valley Regional School Teacher Claire Brennan were awarded the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award at their respective schools Friday.

Brennan and Clary said they were both surprised when presented with the awards by Superintendent Jonathan Scagel, Bernardston Elementary Principal Dr. Kelly Carriere and Pioneer Principal Kevin Burke.

Each of the recipients were given a certificate for the award, balloons and a bouquet of flowers from Adria Lowry Unique Floral Design, a Northfield-based floral company owned by Pioneer Valley Regional School ’11 alumna Adria Lawry.

At Bernardston Elementary School, Carriere said Clary “always goes above and beyond” for her students, delivering materials to their homes during remote learning, and planning fun educational activities. Clary, a fifth-grade teacher, said she was “shaking” from the excitement.

“I don’t even know what to say — They’re a part of it,” she said, gesturing to her students. “My co-workers are a part of it, I don’t do it alone… Thank you to everyone. I am so honored, thank you so much.”

At Pioneer Valley Regional School, Scagel and Burke thanked Brennan for her “outstanding” work and commitment to her students. Brennan has taught in the district for 20 years. She is an 11th-and 12th-grade English teacher, and co-chair of the Pioneer Valley Regional Education Association.

“It’s an honor, it’s definitely a privilege to be awarded something so prestigious” she said. “I’m completely shocked, overwhelmed and very grateful.”

The award has been gifted to educators in the Pioneer Valley since 2003 thanks to the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation in partnership with the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation. This year, awarded educators will be able to attend a Virtual Celebration for Excellence in Teaching Award Winners in May. The program features the presentation of the individual awards, and winners will receive an engraved plaque and a check for $250.

In addition, seven area colleges and universities offer graduate course tuition incentives and scholarships to the winners: Elms College, Bay Path University, Mount Holyoke College, Springfield College, Western New England University, Westfield State University and the University of Massachusetts.

Winners also receive membership at WGBY Springfield as well as three-month memberships at the Springfield Jewish Community Center, Springfield YMCA and five regional YMCAs, and other gifts. All 2021 winners have an opportunity to apply for the selective Classroom Innovator Prize of $250 by submitting a project-based learning idea. To provide valuable information about project-based learning especially in a distance learning environment, NEPM (New England Public Media) Springfield and GBH Boston will offer a free webinar on April 1 at 7 p.m. and make available thousands of PBS Learning Media Resources. Up to 30 projects will be selected for the Classroom Innovator Prize.

“Today more than ever, when educators throughout Western Massachusetts have risen to the challenges of the pandemic and carry an awesome responsibility, we feel grateful to all of them and privileged to honor teachers who continuously make outstanding contributions to their schools and their students,” Philanthropist Harold Grinspoon said in a press release for the 2021 awards.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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