MAUMS teacher wins regional recognition
BENNINGTON — Amy Moriarty has made teaching middle school students her career for more than two decades. In the eyes of her peers, she's mastered it.
Moriarty, a social studies teacher on the White Rocks team at Mount Anthony Union Middle School, is one of just six teachers to receive a 2019 Master in the Middle Award from the New England League of Middle Schools, and the only recipient from Vermont.
The award recognizes teachers who are devoted to young adolescents, committed to best middle practices, and have taught for at least 20 years.
Moriarty was nominated by Maria Lanoue, library media specialist at MAUMS. Moriarty taught Lanoue's children years ago.
"She nominated me, and she wrote an incredibly beautiful, beautiful speech that meant more than probably the actual award," Moriarty said.
The recognition is the second for Moriarty in two years. Last year, she received a Master in the Middle Award from the Vermont Association for Middle Level Education last year, again nominated by Lanoue.
"I first got to know Amy through the eyes of my daughters who to this day light up when I mention her name," Lanoue said in a statement. "Over the years I've worked with Amy and her students and have experienced the contagious joy and excitement learning can bring."
"Last year was very humbling, and this year is incredibly humbling," Moriarty said. "I feel very thankful, because I have been dedicated to our community for a long time."
Moriarty has taught seventh grade at MAUMS for 24 years.
"I've chosen to stay in Bennington," she said. "I feel like it is a pretty incredible place with a lot of wonderful families, and more important — the kids. The kids are amazing."
Moriarty calls the students the "fun part" of her job. Middle level students are complex and exciting, and look at the world in a unique way, she said.
"It's just always been the better fit," she said of middle level teaching. "Because they're adult enough in their brain that they're so engaging, and yet there's enough child and fun in them that they make it so interesting every day."
Moriarty teaches social studies, which she said she wouldn't change for the world.
"It's about people," she said. "It's about people's stories. That's a good fit for me. Because I like people."
Although she did other work at times to pay the bills, teaching has always been her career path, Moriarty said.
"I have incredibly supportive family who worked very hard to make sure my vision for myself happened," she said.
Moriarty's parents, who are from Richmond, attended the awards ceremony, which was part of the organization's 28th annual conference on March 21-22.
Those selected for the award must be passionate about middle level education, serve as an educational leader, advocate for the middle level community, provide formal/informal mentoring to their colleagues and model effective middle-level instructional practices.
Selected educators must also currently teach middle level students.
"Paying attention to the learning needs of young adolescents and recognizing their unique developmental stage can make a significant difference in the lives of 10-14 year olds," said Jeff Rodman, executive director of NELMS, in a release from the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union. "Recognizing those experienced middle level educators is a major part of the work of the Recognitions Committee, who often have a very difficult task choosing the winners."
Nomination materials had to be submitted by Feb. 1. Award recipients are recognized at the NELMS annual conference and in MidLines, the NELMS newspaper.
NELMS, a nonprofit organization, has over 500 member schools and more than 15,000 individual members in six New England states and beyond.
Besides Moriarty, this year's award recipients include Kathy Bertini of Madison Junior High School in Madison, Maine; Kristie Morris of Lin-Wood Public School in Lincoln, New Hampshire; Michele Pistocco of West Broadway Middle School in Providence, Rhode Island; Pamela Peterson of Lebanon Middle School in Lebanon, New Hampshire and Teddie Polak of DelSesto Middle School in Providence, Rhode Island.
Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.
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