De’Shawn Washington, a fourth-grade inclusion teacher at Maria Hastings Elementary School, has made history by being the state’s first Black male teacher of the year in 2024.
The 32-year-old is the fourth teacher in Lexington to receive the medal and the 62nd recipient of the Commonwealth’s top educational distinction. The award recognizes a teacher from throughout the state who shows excellence in the classroom and fosters a positive school culture.
He told The Lexington Observer, “There are a lot of emotions. It’s not just a win for me; it’s a win for the town of Lexington and many teachers of color all around Massachusetts.”
During a ceremony held last Friday in the school’s gymnasium, students cheered as his name was called. Melanie Evans, whom he had invited, watched the celebration of her son with tears in her eyes as coworkers and representatives from Lexington and Boston’s Hyde Park and Roxbury communities arrived.
Washington emphasized his wish to become an ambassador of public education as the state’s teacher of the year, sharing stories of other teachers’ work in their classrooms to improve students’ growth.
Washington is a member of the Lexington School District’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community Input Team. The committee supports justice and action knowledge, as well as diversity and identity.
He has also offered courses at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, for many years to help potential teachers pass their licensure exams and become teachers in the state.
Washington has seven years of teaching experience, four of which were spent at Maria Hastings. He taught third grade at the Boston-based Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School before selecting to teach in Lexington.
Washington attended City on a Hill Charter Public School and earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from UMass Boston. He began his work as an accountant at a Boston law company. Washington, however, recognized his genuine passion for education and attended UMass Boston, where he earned two master’s degrees, one in elementary education and one in special education.
“When you are called to do something in life, you walk in those shoes for what you’ve been called to do,” he said.
Washington also mentioned that he is working on books about his professional experiences, such as being named the first black male teacher of the year and creating changemakers. He is currently a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University studying educational leadership and policy.
In April, the pioneer will travel to Washington to compete for Massachusetts in the National Teacher of the Year competition.