Denette Locke, a teacher at the Fletcher Elementary School, has won the Angelo J. Dorta Award for Teaching Excellence from the Vermont-National Education Association. The award recognizes excellence in public school teaching and underscores high standards of service to students and the teaching profession.


Locke, currently a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher leader at the Fletcher Elementary School, focuses her work on coaching teachers on best instructional practices in those areas as well as providing direct instruction to students. Her award carries a $1,000 cash prize.


As part of the nomination process, Locke’s strengths in the areas of professional practice, advocacy for teaching, community engagement, leadership in professional development and attention to diversity were emphasized.

“Denette is a dedicated, caring, hardworking, professional and is a leader in our school and district,” teaching colleague Cathy O’Brien wrote in a letter of support for Locke. “She brings a lot of energy, respect and fun wherever she goes. She cares deeply for each and every student and their family.”


Locke has been at the Fletcher Elementary School since 1998, spending 16 years as a classroom teacher and two years in her current position as STEM teacher leader. Before that, she taught preschool through third grade for six years. She earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Vermont’s Vermont Mathematics Initiative and bachelor’s degrees in elementary and early childhood education from Johnson State College.

“I love learning and I love working with children in the amazing field of education,” Locke said in her nominee’s statement.


“Denette is known in our school district for her creativity, ingenuity and innovation,” parent Sara Villeneuve wrote of Locke. “Her classroom is engaging with a focus on students and achievement. She dedicates herself to collaboration with colleagues and the community to ensure students are successful.”

“I am honored and humbled by the acknowledgement and recognition that comes with this award,” Locke said. I have been blessed in so many ways during my years teaching.  Through continued growth and learning experiences, and with my role in education, I feel proud to be given this award for teaching excellence.  Teaching excellence truly is the result of so many excellent teachers.  I could not have done this alone. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many excellent teachers, colleagues, students and families.”


Locke becomes Vermont’s nominee to the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education for their national Award for Teaching Excellence, which pays $25,000.

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