AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts alumnus Bruce Penniman has been named the 1998-99 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year by the state Department of Education. Penniman was selected from more than 400 nominees for the 36th annual state award. A formal ceremony at the State House in Boston is scheduled for Sept. 23 with Acting Governor Paul Cellucci and Education Commissioner David Driscoll attending.
Penniman graduated from UMass with an English degree in 1971 and began teaching at both Amherst Regional junior high and high school that same year. While teaching, Penniman continued his education at UMass, obtaining an MA in English in 1974 and an Ed.D. in English Education in 1985. In 1994, Penniman participated in the Western Massachusetts Writing Project (WMWP), the UMass-based regional site for the federally funded National Writing Project to promote the teaching of writing. Since that time, Penniman has served in a leadership capacity in the WMWP, joining UMass English professor Charles Moran and two other area teachers as a co-director.
Penniman is the second UMass alumnus this decade to receive the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award. Jerry Howland, a 1970 graduate of the University, won the award for 1994-95, and subsequently went on to become just one of four finalists nationwide to compete for the 1995 National Teacher of the Year award (only three other Massachusetts teachers have reached the national level in the award’s 47-year-history). In addition, last year’s Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award winner, Mary Ginley, was a participant in the 1993 WMWP Invitational Summer Institute.
"This award is yet another fine example of the quality of our education program and the kind of teachers this institution produces for the commonwealth," says Bailey Jackson, dean of the School of Education at UMass.
The Teacher of the Year is chosen by a committee of former teachers of the year, public school administrators, students, parents, and representatives of teacher associations. As teacher of the year, Penniman will spend the coming year on sabbatical, touring Massachusetts schools and presenting workshops to fellow teachers. He also will receive various awards including computer hardware and software, supplies for himself and his school, course vouchers at colleges and universities, and a crystal apple from the state Department of Education.
Penniman is now a candidate for National Teacher of the Year honors. Those winners will be announced in April 1999.