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Perspectives on Connecticut’s Achievement Gap: Stratford Teacher Gives Students Tools to Face Life’s Challenges

Connecticut’s 2011 Teacher of the Year Kristen Record says that the achievement gap is her reality every day.

“I live the achievement gap. It’s my reality, every day.”

That’s what Kristen Record, Connecticut’s 2011 Teacher of the Year, told a crowd of 100 people at the Hartford Public Library today, where she was one of the keynote speakers at the CT Mirror Forum “Perspectives on Connecticut’s Achievement Gap.”

Record, who teaches physics at Bunnell High School in Stratford, says she doesn’t only teach “good students, but all levels of students—from students from affluent two-parent households to students from homes with single parents who work two jobs to make ends meet.”

Stratford is diverse and teaching is challenging

“I’m not perfect, but I do my best and make a difference in the lives of my students,” she says.

But there are many aspects of students’ lives that impact their learning that she and other teachers just can’t control, including absenteeism.

“Anyone who tells you that a student’s grade is an indication of the effectiveness of a teacher does not understand the complex realities of public education,” says Record.

Watch an excerpt of Record’s speech.

She says teachers understand the work they do is important and that it can have a profound effect on children’s lives.

“I know I make a difference, and it’s a difference that matters,” says Record. “A lot of teachers in Stratford make this same kind of difference.”

Record points to several programs that are helping to close the achievement gap in Stratford, including two CEA and Stratford partnership programs: Power Hour and Real Dads Forever. Both programs are geared toward getting parents more involved in their children’s education.

“Parents play a crucial role in closing the achievement gap and initiatives like Power Hour and Real Dads Forever, help to foster collaboration between schools and families,” says Record.

The physics teacher believes students learn from their relationships, and that the relationship between a student and teacher must go beyond the content of the classroom lesson of the day.

“No matter where kids come from, they want to be successful at something.  Our role as teachers is to help them figure out what that something is,” says Record.

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