West Hartford teacher Clare Taylor, pictured with her boyfriend Brian Neseralla, was named a Pearson Global Learning Fellow at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala.
Clare Taylor knew she’d be giving up some of the perks of the corporate world — coffee and pastries at morning meetings, catered lunches, even bathroom breaks on her own schedule — when she left a 20-year career in business for the classroom. But she’s quick to point out that teaching has unique perks.
Taylor, a fifth grade teacher at Duffy Elementary in West Hartford, says it’s the “emotional perks” that make teaching so rewarding. Still, she acknowledges, “it’s nice to feel pampered once in a while.”
Taylor had that chance recently at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala. At the annual celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools, known as the Academy Awards of public education, Taylor and 35 of her colleagues from around the country were named Pearson Global Learning Fellows.
“They treated everyone like kings and queens — the whole event celebrated teachers,” Taylor said.
She said it was a wonderful experience, especially given that “teachers sometimes feel so overworked and stressed out.” She added, “I wish I weren’t the only teacher in Connecticut who had the chance to go. We have so many great teachers here.”
The gala concluded three days of training in global literacy that prepared the fellows for one of the most exciting aspects of the award. In June, Taylor and the other fellows will travel to Brazil for ten days to visit schools, meet with educators, and learn more about Brazil’s history and culture.
In addition to the training in D.C., prior to the trip the fellows are completing an online course on Brazil’s history, culture, and education system and learning some basic Portuguese.
After the teachers return from Brazil, each will work through July to create a curriculum for his or her school or district integrated with global competency skills.
Clare Taylor, at center in purple, celebrates at the NEA Foundation Gala with CEA leaders. From left are CEA President Sheila Cohen, CEA Treasurer Tom Nicholas, Taylor’s boyfriend Brian Neseralla, Taylor, West Hartford Education Association President David Dippolino, CEA Political Action Coordinator Conor Casey, NEA Director Pat Jordan, CEA Vice President Jeff Leake, and NEA Director Kathy Flaherty.
Taylor became a Pearson Fellow after being selected as the 2012 John McCormack CEA Award for Teaching Excellence winner. The award recognizes and promotes excellence in teaching and service to the profession.
Taylor exemplifies excellence and service thorough her involvement in her school and community. She constantly develops new projects and initiatives for her students and the district, all while being a single mom to a young daughter.
Just a few of Taylor’s recent projects include organizing teams for a national literary quiz at CCSU, using cutting edge technology to receive a satellite phone call from a captain sailing on the Indian Ocean, starting a computer class for parents, and organizing her students to take action on a nutrition bill before a state legislative committee.
In Taylor’s application for the John McCormack Award she wrote, “My passion is creating projects that engage children, integrate multiple subjects, and have real world application.”
She brings service learning into the classroom and her students out into the community. Taylor says, “I have grown as a teacher by letting students have more decision-making and stepping back to see where an idea leads them.”
She has started a district-wide service-learning project to make the community safer through fire awareness and public service. In a new project she is implementing, students work with alumni who went to Duffy Elementary when it opened in 1952 to write biographies that will be published and donated to libraries and the residents. She runs a town-wide scavenger hunt called “Supper @ Seven,” which encourages residents to visit restaurants from seven different cultures.
Taylor says, “When I come up with an exciting idea, I find the energy and get rejuvenated. I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to myself.”