An East Bridgewater high school math teacher was named the state’s Teacher of the Year during a ceremony on Tuesday, marking the first time the school district has had a winning candidate, officials said.
Jamil Siddiqui, who teaches advanced placement calculus and pre-calculus, has been a part of the East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School faculty for 24 years, he said.
“It’s a great honor,” Siddiqui said. “You don’t get into teaching for the accolades, but when it happens, it’s really, really satisfying.”
A Maine native and Boston University graduate, Siddiqui said he always tries to work with his students in a variety of roles.
He oversees the Student Senate club at the high school, works with kids to organize activities and events — such as blood drives and class competitions — provides mentorship and support to other teachers on instructional practices, and travels frequently to speak with various educators around the state, said Brian Duffey, the school’s principal.
“He’s very involved in the culture and climate throughout the school,” Duffey said. “A number of his former students have gone on to become mathematics teachers, which is a real testament to the work he’s done.”
In his classroom, Siddiqui approaches math — which he refers to as “the language of love” — a little differently than other teachers might, telling them to forget about the numbers and “think about the process.”
“I think it’s important that students understand that math is a language,” said Siddiqui, who has also taught algebra and geometry. “Once you know what the symbols mean and how they fit together, it makes it easier, so we talk about communication a lot in my classes.”
Students in eighth to 12th grade attended the Tuesday celebration in the school’s auditorium, bringing a lot of excitement and pride to the room, said East Bridgewater Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Legault.
“He’s very dedicated to his own personal and professional practice,” Legault said. “The atmosphere in his room is all about math, and the desire to be a mathematician.”
The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year program is the state’s top award for educators. Siddiqui is the 57th recipient of the award and will be Massachusetts’s candidate for the national Teacher of the Year contest. The recipient of the national competition will be announced next year.Elise Takahama can be reached at email@example.com.