Avon Middle School science teacher John Mason has been chosen as a finalist contender for Connecticut Teacher of the Year along with three other candidates.
"I'm honored and humbled to have been recognized as one of four finalists for State Teacher of the Year," Mason, a Canton resident, wrote in an email to Avon Patch. "It is a real privilege to exemplify the great teaching that is happening here in Avon, and, if the opportunity presents itself, to represent my colleagues all across the state."
Mason went to the state's Legislative Office Building in Hartford last Thursday for an interview as a semifinalist and impressed the State Teacher of the Year Committee. There was a pool of 16 semifinalists.
The committee will come to Avon Middle School on Tuesday to observe his teaching. They will also talk to students, teachers, administrators, parents and Avon Board of Education members, as well as interview him one more time.
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Prior to being chosen as one of the final four candidates, Mason was the first Avon Teacher of the Year to advance to the statewide semifinalist round since former Avon High School drama teacher Doreen Cohn in 2004. He is in his 12th year as a seventh grade teacher at the middle school and has been an educator for 15.
Before he taught in the classroom, he led backpacking and river rafting trips in Utah and Oregon. He also was employed at an outdoor science school in Oregon before he landed a job as a high school science teacher at a private day school in Colorado. The West Hartford native was ultimately drawn back to Connecticut because of his roots.
Even though Mason is no longer an outdoor educator, his value of hands-on learning has never stopped. His students do everything from dissecting frogs to studying the flora and fauna in the woods behind the middle school.
He launched a Visiting Science guest speaker series there, as well, bringing in meteorologists, orthopedic surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, and astro-photographers to talk to the kids about different aspects of science.
Mason is the guy with the "Science is a Verb" bumper sticker on his car.
He is also the guy that could Connecticut's next teacher of the year.