In the news: De’Shawn C. Washington
De’Shawn C. Washington, a fourth-grade inclusion teacher at Maria Hastings Elementary School in Lexington, has been named the 2024 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.
Washington is the first Black male to become Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and the fourth winner from Lexington. He automatically became the state’s candidate for National Teacher of the Year.
Education Secretary Patrick A. Tutwiler joined Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley in announcing the choice of Washington Nov. 3 during an assembly at his school.
Washington is in his seventh year of teaching and his fourth at Hastings Elementary. He works to create a supportive classroom community where students know each other, handle conflicts constructively and feel comfortable enough to participate and take risks.
Washington makes a point of learning about his students. One of his favorite ways to start the year is to have students discuss their visible and invisible identities and learn about their names by interviewing their own family members. At the end of the unit, students – and Washington – make posters about who they are and hang them on the classroom walls. Students can make changes to their posters to reflect their personal growth over the course of the year.
“The impact of a caring teacher and an inclusive classroom is immeasurable, and Mr. Washington’s work is a credit to the profession,” Tutwiler said.
In addition to his work in the classroom, Washington is a member of his district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Community Input Team and the School Site Council. Outside of school, he runs workshops at UMass Boston to help teacher candidates pass the Massachusetts Tests for Education Licensure, and he has presented and published on culturally responsive instruction.
A Boston resident, Washington taught elementary school in Boston Public Schools before joining Hastings Elementary. He graduated from City on a Hill Charter Public School in Boston, received his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from UMass Boston and earned two master’s degrees, one in elementary education and one in special education, from UMass Boston. Washington is working on a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University.