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Posts tagged ‘Teacher of the Year’

Teachers Honored for Commitment to Excellence, and to Children


2019 TOY finalists and semifinalists gather with CEA leaders. Pictured left to right are Robert Rose (Glastonbury), Leanne Maguire (Torrington), Gregory Amter (Hamden), CEA President Jeff Leake, Jennifer Freese (Newington), Sheena Graham (Bridgeport), Ryley Zawodniak (Mansfield), CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, Jessica Harris (Wallingford), Camille Spaulding (Stamford), Kelly Shea (Manchester), Sean Maloney (Brooklyn), Ellen Meyer (Danbury), John Cote (Lebanon), Penny Zhitomi (Shelton), and Jessica Papp (Canton). Not pictured is Barbara Johnson (Colchester).

For 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year (TOY) Sheena Graham, making personal connections with the young people in her classroom is all in a day’s work—and one of the things that has endeared her to generations of students. Those meaningful, enduring connections are among the common threads that bind this year’s TOY finalists together. While they all came to teaching in different ways, with unique points of inspiration, each shares a strong penchant for building positive relationships with students, showing children that they matter not only as learners but as human beings. Read more

Meet Connecticut’s New 2019 Teacher of the Year: Bridgeport Music Teacher Sheena Graham

CEA member Sheena Graham, a performing arts and choir teacher at Bridgeport’s Harding High School, has been named Connecticut’s 2019 Teacher of the Year. Along with her colleagues and students gathered in the school’s media center this morning, CEA President Jeff Leake and Vice President Tom Nicholas were on hand to congratulate Graham as the announcement was made to resounding applause.

Bridgeport’s Sheena Graham is named 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

“Sheena is a truly generous educator who has high expectations for her students and is passionate about reaching each and every one of them,” said Leake. “Her commitment to her students and her willingness to challenge herself represent all that is great in the teaching profession. Sheena instills compassion and empathy, making sure her students understand the need to take care of themselves, one another, and their community.” Read more

Look for the CEA Advisor in Your Mailbox

The December 2017 – January 2018 edition of the CEA Advisor will be in your mailbox this week. It’s already available to read online. Don’t miss these and other stories.

Connecticut Teachers Honored for Innovation, Excellence

More than 100 teachers took the stage at a ceremony naming the 2018 Teacher of the Year and honoring all the great educators who innovate and inspire.

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North Branford Science Teacher is Connecticut’s 2017 Teacher of the Year

Lauren Danner

North Branford High School celebrated today as science teacher Lauren Danner was named the 2017 Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

The applause was deafening in the North Branford High School auditorium this afternoon as students and staff celebrated one of their own as Connecticut’s 2017 Teacher of the Year. Science teacher and North Branford High alum Lauren Danner beamed with pride.

“I am so humbled and honored to be selected as a representative of education in Connecticut, and I will do my best to make the state of Connecticut proud,” she said.

Danner, a science and biology teacher and Science Department Leader, spent her first decade out of college working as a research scientist but couldn’t resist the call of teaching. She loved the lab work but said, “I’m too much of a talker and storyteller to be working silently for most of my day.” Read more

Waterbury Educator Named Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year

Waterbury social studies teacher Jahana Hayes was named Connecticut's 2016 Teacher of the Year today.

Waterbury social studies teacher Jahana Hayes was named Connecticut’s 2016 Teacher of the Year today.

At John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, it does not surprise students that social studies teacher Jahana Hayes is being honored as the new Connecticut Teacher of the Year (TOY).

“She’s amazing. She gets us to be the best we can be, reminding us that we have great value. Failure is not an option. She pushes us to do even better,” said Gaaiya Hunter, a senior, who is applying to five colleges with plans to be a nurse practitioner.

Junior DeAndre Carty plans on college, too, with a career in criminal justice. “Mrs. Hayes was always there for me during difficult times. She helped me get through things and do my best in school. She lights up every day.”

“I see a little bit of myself in each one of my students,” Hayes said. “Education is a catalyst to find our best selves.”  Hayes was educated in the Waterbury public schools, where she said excellence happens every day.

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Teachers of the Year Inspire Lifelong Learning

Connecticut’s 2015 Teacher of the Year praised and thanked her former teachers, Farmington Public School educators, for inspiring her to become an educator, and reminded her colleagues of the...

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Top Teacher Inspires Students to be Smart and Compassionate

Cara Quinn

East Hartford teacher Cara Quinn is Connecticut’s 2015 Teacher of the Year.

“If it wasn’t for Mrs. Quinn, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” East Hartford seventh grader Mya Mason told an assembly of students and state dignitaries at Sunset Ridge School in East Hartford.  “She’s a real role model.”

Sixth grade teacher Cara Quinn is no longer a role model just for her own students and school — earlier today she was named 2015 State Teacher of the Year to the thrilled applause of her students and colleagues.

Fellow Sunset Ridge teacher Kim Knapp described Quinn as “a remarkable teacher who makes a very challenging, (yet an extremely fulfilling), profession look easy.” Knapp added that Quinn instills in her students, “a passion for learning and a desire to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Helping others is clearly an important value to Quinn — evidenced not only by her chosen profession, but also by her volunteer work locally and abroad — and it’s something she cultivates in her students as well.

“I want my students to be smart and compassionate,” she said. “My goal is to develop each student’s ability to think critically and creatively so that they may make a unique, positive contribution to enrich the world.” Read more

Impact of Education Reform on Teachers

David BossoWhy did you become a teacher? What motivates you? How do you want to be remembered? These are some of the questions Berlin social studies teacher and Connecticut’s 2012 Teacher of the Year David Bosso asked his Teacher of the Year peers as part of his doctoral research.

He’s written up some of the common themes educators expressed when it comes to teacher morale, motivation, and professional identity. Read his blog post, “This is What I Am,” here.

Teachers of the Year Support Students and Their Colleagues

ToY finalists

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.

Teacher of the Year 2014

Teacher recognition

“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.

Connecticut Teachers Talk Education with Members of the State’s Congressional Delegation while Attending a STEM Conference in Washington


CEA member Kristen Record with Sen. Chris Murphy in D.C.

Stratford physics teacher Kristen Record and Guilford physics teacher Ernie Smoker were part of a group of 20 STEM teachers from around the country participating in the STEM Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., last week, co-sponsored by MIT and George Washington University.

The CEA members are part of the Network of Educators of Science and Technology (NEST) affiliated with MIT. Twenty NESTers were invited to this first-ever STEM Policy Institute. The goal of the program was to create a dialogue among educators, policy experts, and public officials about the current opportunities and challenges related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Here’s what 2011 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Kristen Record had to say about the experience.

We had discussions with leaders from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Chemical Society, and Phi Delta Kappa. We also went to a meeting held by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), in which the future of post-secondary mathematics education was discussed. GW’s Center on Education Policy held an advocacy training session for us in advance of meetings we had scheduled with members of congress.

Mid-week, Ernie and I attended the inaugural “Connecticut Constituent Coffee,” hosted by Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, with two other Connecticut science teachers.  We then later met with both of their education staffers – for about 45 minutes each – to discuss the intersection of ESEA reauthorization and STEM education.  Later in the week I had meetings with Representatives Himes and DeLauro and their staffers to discuss the same. I also had the unique experience of being able to be able to sit with Congresswoman DeLauro’s education staffer and watch some of the debate about HR5 from her office, and then later watched some of the debate about amendments to HR5 from the House Gallery.

While at the PCAST meeting, I picked up a 2010 report written by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to the President called, “Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for America’s Future.” On page 73, the report says, “Unless we give our best teachers access to decision-makers and a voice in the many policy decisions that affect their lives, we will continue to make poor use of the talented teachers in our schools, and large number of them will leave the profession for jobs that are more responsive to their needs.” 

That sentiment perfectly echoes my belief that classroom teachers need to be viewed as the experts in education when policies are considered and laws are passed; teachers need a seat at that decision-making table from the beginning.


Rep. Rosa DeLauro with Stratford physics teacher Kristen Record