Most of New England today is basking in the thrill of the Boston Bruins bringing home the Stanley Cup for the first time in 39 years. The NHL Playoffs have given fans plenty to cheer about, and the team’s triumphant homecoming will culminate with a rolling rally through the streets of Boston on Saturday. Go, Bruins!

Today, I had the pleasure of applauding a different group of heroes – none of them household names. These champions excel not on the ice but in the classrooms of public schools all across Massachusetts.

The annual Excellence in Teaching Celebration, held today at the Massachusetts State House, paid tribute to educators who are making a profound difference in the lives of their students.  State officials saluted more than a dozen teachers for excellence in teaching History, Mathematics, Science, and other subjects.

Meet the 2012 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year: Adam Gray, a 10th grade Mathematics teacher at Monument High School in South Boston.

Getting high school students excited about Math is no easy task, but Adam has done just that. He founded the school district’s first Mu Alpha Theta honor society to make mathematics “cool,” and to help young men and women discover that they can achieve at high levels. In the past three years, Adam has increased his students’ proficiency rates on the state’s Grade 10 math exam from 28 percent to an astounding 69 percent. Read more about Adam’s passion and accomplishments on The Huffington Post.

As a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow, Adam already has demonstrated his commitment to elevating the teaching profession. As the 2012 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, he will travel the state working with and inspiring countless other teachers to achieve greatness in and out of the classroom.

These and other outstanding teachers may never win a Stanley Cup, a World Series trophy, or a Super Bowl ring. But they are, without a doubt, champions – talented, tireless, humble, and most deserving of our admiration and applause.