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Lee Middle and High School Teacher Wins $10,000 Kapteyn Prize
04:04PM / Thursday, October 24, 2019
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Jane McEvoy, an English teacher at Lee Middle and High School in Lee, Mass., has been awarded the 11th annual James C. Kapteyn Prize for excellence in teaching. (Photo by John Dolan)

LEE, Mass. — Jane McEvoy, an English teacher at Lee Middle and High School has been awarded the 11th annual James C. Kapteyn Prize for excellence in teaching. She will receive a $10,000 award for study or travel to enrich her teaching, and the school will receive a $2,000 grant in her name.

McEvoy joined the faculty at Lee High in 2010. She primarily teaches junior-year English classes, including a college-level advanced writing course, and serves as the chairperson of the English Department. She founded the school's Social Justice Club to encourage compassionate conversations about topics such as equality, diversity and politics. The club has become the district's largest nonathletic co-curricular activity, and its members have hosted events ranging from an equality fair to a schoolwide mock election.

Colleagues and students emphasize that McEvoy is a dedicated, caring educator whose support of every student goes beyond the classroom. They describe her as a leader and mentor who inspires students to succeed long after graduation.

"Jane was more than just a teacher to me. She was an educator, a friend and a support system," wrote Samantha Reynolds, a member of the class of 2015.

"She brings out the best in her students — in both the academic and humanistic realms," Principal Gregg M. Brighenti wrote in a letter nominating McEvoy for the prize. "Her students leave our school better people, infused with a love of learning that they will bring with them into their future lives, and with minds trained to be inquisitive and compassionate."

In a written statement, McEvoy says she teaches to "discover the remarkable in each child, to foresee his or her incredible future and to navigate the present in such a way as to make it so. I teach because I believe in the limitless possibilities of the human mind and the human soul. I teach because it is my calling."

McEvoy will receive the Kapteyn Prize during an award ceremony at the school on Sunday, Oct. 27, from noon to 3 p.m.

The James C. Kapteyn Endowment Fund was established at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation in 2009 to honor the memory of beloved teacher Jamie Kapteyn, who over a 20-year career taught English and coached soccer and lacrosse at Deerfield Academy, the Williston Northampton School and Cushing Academy. The fund’s primary mission is to honor its namesake's memory by recognizing and rewarding extraordinary educators in Berkshire Taconic's region of the Berkshires and parts of Franklin County, and northwest Litchfield County in Connecticut and Columbia and northeast Dutchess Counties in New York.

Principals and heads of school may nominate an outstanding high school teacher who meets the vision of the fund. Nominations for next year’s Kapteyn Prize are due Feb. 9, 2020. Learn more and view a list of previous Kapteyn Prize recipients here.


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