In Margaret Hersey’s ninth-grade English classroom at Springfield Honors Academy in Massachusetts, the learners are often in charge. Whether creating skits, running Socratic seminar-style discussions, or putting a book "on trial, Hersey challenges her students by trusting them with elevated conversations, complex projects and provocative texts that students find relatable and engaging. She goes out of her way to add diversity to the reading list with books like “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros and “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. The school is only in its third year, but students are making great progress. Though many came from underperforming middle schools with significant unfinished learning in reading and writing, Hersey’s students achieved a 510% gain on MAP assessments in the school’s first year.
Hersey taught AP Art History at her previous school, so in addition to ELA, Hersey created a class called “Demystification of the Arts.” She integrates art and literature seamlessly, guiding students to make cross-curricular connections. Hersey runs the Adventure Club, taking students—some of whom rarely leave their neighborhoods—to art museums and hiking in the nearby Berkshire Mountains. She has brought students to city hall for recognition, models kindness and listens to her students without judgment. They know Hersey will never compromise when it comes to providing them the best opportunities for success, in class and in life.
Because the school is small, Hersey contributes in multiple areas. She is the school’s teacher leader for curriculum and has led multiple professional learning sessions for her colleagues on curriculum development. A passionate supporter of restorative justice, Hersey has influenced the school’s disciplinary systems, speaking out if she perceives inequitable treatment. Using her restorative justice background, she has also started a Reflection Team for students to work through culture management at the school, and is seen as a committed educator who will fight for change.
Hersey earned a bachelor’s in social thought and political economy in 2012 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is pursuing a master’s in education with a focus on social justice.
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