Two Connecticut Teachers Receive Prestigious Awards for Teaching Excellence
Two educators from New London and Danbury were recognized before nearly 400 of their Connecticut colleagues for receiving two prestigious awards honoring educator excellence. CEA President Jeff Leake made the announcement at the CEA Representative Assembly last weekend.
New London teacher Elizabeth Sked was named the recipient of the CEA John McCormack Award for Teaching Excellence, which puts her in the running for a national award recognizing the year’s most outstanding educators.
Danbury teacher Luanelly Iglesias was recognized as the winner of NEA’s 2019 Human and Civil Rights George I. Sanchez Memorial Award honoring teachers who significantly advance equal opportunities for Hispanics.
John McCormack Award
The John McCormack Award recognizes and promotes excellence in teaching and service to the profession. The award, which is highly competitive, examines teachers on five criteria: professional practice, community engagement, leadership in professional development, attention to diversity, and advocacy for the profession.
“Elizabeth is dedicated, innovative, and an exemplary educator,” said Leake. “She mentors new teachers, advocates for resources that teachers and students need, facilitates professional development presentations, and speaks to legislators about issues that impact public education. Elizabeth says, ‘I don’t give up on what’s right. Not ever.’”
In accepting her award, the Jennings School instructional literacy coach said she is a proud public school educator, union leader, and the voice of many, representing her fellow teachers—and she reaffirmed her commitment to her students and fortifying the foundation of teaching practice.
Sked said, “I am passionate about helping teachers become the best teachers they can be and in turn positively impacting many students. Every decision I make, every day, starts and ends with students.”
Sked, who has been teaching for 23 years, received a cash honorarium in the amount of $2,000 from CEA. She will also be CEA’s nominee for the National Education Association/National Education Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NEA/NFIE) Award for Teaching Excellence and will attend an all-expenses-paid trip to the Salute to Education Gala in Washington, D.C., in February, 2020.
Leake added, “Elizabeth is an excellent candidate to win the national award. She cares deeply about each and every student and has demonstrated the professionalism, leadership, and teaching expertise required to receive this top honor.”
The winner of the NEA/NFIE award will receive a check for $25,000, a commemorative plaque, and nationwide recognition. Five national finalists will each receive $10,000.
Human and Civil Rights Award
Iglesias received the 2019 Human and Civil Rights George I. Sanchez Memorial Award for her distinguished leadership in education, honoring her activities that have made significant improvements in education opportunities and advanced the achievement of Hispanics.
“Throughout her career, Luanelly has been a tireless champion for her students, creating a bilingual program for students recently arriving in the United States,” said Leake. “Her efforts in the school community through family engagement continues to provide students the opportunity to have pride in their Hispanic heritage. The cultural exchanges that Luanelly brings to the classroom and the school community teach students the importance of honoring the past, embracing their culture and language, and working hard toward a bright future.”
Iglesias, who teaches at Rogers Park Middle School, noted that in her 15-year career as a bilingual teacher, being part of her local union and CEA has opened many doors for her. Born in Puerto Rico, Iglesias worked in a factory to help support her family and was a bilingual student herself 30 years ago, when she moved from Puerto Rico.
“I learned how to defeat many barriers through the power of education,” she said, reminding her colleagues of the incredible influence they have on their students. “Many of our students spend more of their time with us than with their families.”
Iglesias will be honored by more than 8,000 of her peers across the country during a national ceremony celebrating educator excellence at the NEA Representative Assembly in Houston, Texas, in July.