A Massachusetts educator has just become the first Black male teacher to win the state’s Teacher of the Year award. De’Shawn Washington, who teaches fourth grade at Maria Hastings Elementary School in Lexington, Massachusetts, received the honor at a rally in front of his students and colleagues.

“You’ve made the work joyous for me over the last three or so years that I have been here. I’m grateful for every one of you, because I’ve learned so much from you,” Washington said at the rally, NewsOne reported. “You are the great teachers that I have been able to learn from.”

The Massachusetts Teachers Association announced the news on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying Washington is “the first Black male to receive the state’s top award for educators.”

The organization also revealed that Washington is a proud member of the Lexington Education Association, a collective bargaining unit that represents educators at various levels.

Washington, who has been working as a teacher for seven years, previously served as an elementary school teacher in the Boston Public School system, teaching third-grade students. The 32-year-old also worked at the University Of Massachusetts, leading workshops to help educators pass the Massachusetts Tests for Education Licensure.

The Boston educator still has many big plans ahead. According to his LinkedIn page, Washington is currently studying Educational Leadership and Policy with a K-12 Concentration at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.

“He plans to use his doctorate to further expand the pathway for educators to enter and stay in the teaching profession in supporting the next group for changemakers in society,” Washington’s bio states.

After his latest achievement, the celebrated educator once again vowed to keep empowering the next generation. According to NewsOne, Washington said in a statement that he wants to keep serving as a community leader, “teacher, advocate, student, and a cultivator of young changemakers.”

“It is my duty to continuously learn how to empower my students to not only master grade-level standards but to be upstanding individuals with the capacity to ignite change in their communities,” he said.

Washington has also been selected to represent as an ambassador of public education. According to The Lexington Observer, he plans to share stories about how other teachers are inspiring students.

As he was honored on Friday, Washington was standing next to his mother, Melanie Evans. The proud mother watched tearfully as her son was recognized.

Washington said his award is “a win for the town of Lexington and many teachers of color all around Massachusetts.”

“(The award) is an opportunity for Massachusetts to see what great teachers look like, and now these stories can be told in particular for Black men in elementary, middle and high schools,” Washington told The Lexington Observer.