Beacon Charter educator named R.I. Teacher of the Year

SCIENCE TEACHER JESSICA WATERS from Beacon Charter High School for the Arts was selected as the 2013 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year. / COURTESY JESSICA WATERS
SCIENCE TEACHER JESSICA WATERS from Beacon Charter High School for the Arts was selected as the 2013 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year. / COURTESY JESSICA WATERS

(Updated, Friday, Sept. 21, 11 p.m.)
PROVIDENCE – Jessica Waters, a science teacher at Woonsocket’s Beacon Charter High School for the Arts, has been selected as the 2013 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year.

“Jessica Waters is a teacher who challenges her colleagues with provocative ideas and who is committed to bringing out the best in every one of her students,” Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, who announced the selection, said in prepared remarks. “She is a shining example for all Rhode Island educators, and she will represent our state well as she vies to become the National Teacher of the Year.”

As the Rhode Island teacher of the year, Waters becomes a candidate for the 2013 National Teacher of the Year award, which will be selected in April.

“In just her fifth year of teaching, Jessica Waters has earned the respect of her fellow teachers at Beacon and around the state,” David V. Abbott, Rhode Island’s acting commissioner of elementary and secondary education, said in a statement.

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“She is known not only for her innovative work as a science teacher but also for her dedication to the welfare of her students, in part through her role as the founder of the Beacon chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions,” added Abbott.

According to George D. Caruolo, chairman of the Board of Regents for elementary and secondary education, the students at Beacon Charter School have doubled their proficiency level in science in the past year.

At her school, Waters, who was selected from the R.I. District Teachers of the Year, prides herself on her “ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and learning abilities,” according to the Department of Education release announcing the award.

Woonsocket-based Beacon is an urban charter public high school that caters to 230 students, nearly half of whom are economically disadvantaged and one-fifth are students with disabilities.

Beacon announced Friday, Sept. 21 that its New England Common Assessment Program test scores – NECAP – improved by 17 percent in 2012.
In May, Beacon’s junior class sat for the science NECAP test and reached 45 percent proficiency, compared to 28 percent in 2011.
The 45 percent proficiency score is 13 percentage points above the state’s 32 percent proficiency rating and represents an improvement of nearly 40 percent since Beacon’s 2008 scores.
The following are Rhode Island’s District Teachers of the Year for 2013:

  • Barrington, Glen Simmons
  • Bristol-Warren, Kelly Brum
  • Burrillville, Kristi Craig
  • Chariho, James Bailey
  • Coventry, Tara D’Aleno
  • Cumberland, Christopher Scott
  • East Greenwich, Patricia M. Page
  • East Providence, Nicole Monte
  • Exeter-West Greenwich, Anne E. Padula
  • Foster-Glocester, Jennifer Paolantonio
  • Glocester, Katherine Simmons
  • Jamestown, Nicholas Alfred
  • Johnston, Jennifer F. Sousa
  • Lincoln, David Jayson Schofield
  • Little Compton, Jason Ford
  • Narragansett, Adam Reis
  • New Shoreham, John Tarbox
  • Newport, Coleen Hermes
  • North Kingstown, Toni-Annette Silveira
  • North Providence, Shauna Pelletier
  • North Smithfield, Regina McAdam
  • Providence, Lisa Rose Bucci
  • Scituate, Donna Pennacchia
  • Smithfield, Adelio Cabral
  • South Kingstown, Claire Schwarzbach
  • Tiverton, Virginia E. Curtis
  • Warwick, Peter Kiley
  • West Warwick, Greg Gonsalves
  • Westerly, E. Deborah Wright
  • Woonsocket, Grace Lang

2013 District Teachers of the Year for Charter Schools:

  • Beacon Charter, Peter D. Boland
  • Blackstone Valley Prep, Marielle Emet
  • Highlander Charter School, Patricia L. Houlik
  • International Charter School, Connie Walinski
  • Kingston Hill Academy, Jennifer Geaber
  • Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, Jennifer Patten
  • Segue Institute for Learning, Kenneth Kard