Connecticut Teacher of the Year semi-finalists with 2014 Teacher of the Year John Mastroianni (front row center), CEA President Sheila Cohen (far left), and CEA Vice President Jeff Leake (far right).
Speaking to a crowd of more than 500, including fellow educators, family, and friends gathered at the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Celebration at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford tonight, 2014 Connecticut Teacher of the Year John Mastroianni delivered captivating, moving, and inspirational words about the power teachers have to shape and transform the lives of their students.
Mastroianni, a band director at Hall High School in West Hartford, whose students performed in a jazz ensemble providing entertainment at tonight’s ceremony, told his colleagues he is proud and honored to represent them.
“When I was nominated, I immediately thought of 20 teachers I aspire to be. I never thought of myself as the best teacher. So here I stand, one teacher symbolizing hundreds,” he said.
“John’s commitment to reach and motivate each of his students is an inspiration,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “He is one of countless exemplary teachers who have dedicated their lives to motivating, encouraging, and educating students.”
What drives Mastroianni is his commitment to educating the whole child. He said he hopes the educational system will “consistently strive to emphasize and implement a balanced curriculum and life style for our students, and that we remain positive catalysts and role models for their good health, well-being, and passion for lifelong learning.”
Cohen said, “We all know that high-quality teachers are the biggest influence in student success, and the key to raising achievement for all students is to ensure that caring, committed, and qualified teachers like John are empowered to lead and transform the teaching profession.”
Mastroianni, urged colleagues to stand strong for their students and public education, despite the ongoing demands of new standardized testing and the new teacher evaluation process, which have flooded the teaching community causing much anxiety among many educators.
“Teachers give so much all year long and often don’t receive the recognition they deserve. But this ceremony, and the 100 Teachers of the Year (ToY) recognized tonight, during American Education Week, gives us a great opportunity to celebrate all the teachers who work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of children,” said Cohen. Teachers like TOY finalists Eric August, Deborah Flaherty, and Christopher Todd, said they are honored to represent all teachers in their towns.
“We bring recognition and pride to our schools and to all the wonderful teachers in Connecticut classrooms,” said Flaherty, a social studies teacher at Woodland Regional High School. “There are so many great teachers and we are all Teachers of the Year to someone.”
“I am by no means better than the other teachers in my school or district, said August, a social studies teacher at Trumbull High School. “I am a representation of the great teachers we have. My only hope is to do them proud.”
“The whole process is a huge validation for the profession and an opportunity to showcase all the amazing things teachers are doing in Windsor and across the state,” said Todd, a U.S. History and government teacher at Windsor High School.
Governor Dannel Malloy told teachers, “What you do is so very, very important.” He said he was envious of teachers. “You have the incredible ability to shape future generations, to shape minds on an intergenerational basis, and you have an impact on one child, and through that child you impact a family, a community, a state, and a nation.”
Mastroianni said he’s fortunate to be a member of the noblest profession, and to be in a position to have such a profound impact on young people’s lives.