Peter Bizier from Brown Middle School and Maryann Kunst from Polson Middle School were named teacher of the year and paraprofessional of the year, respectively, at the recent convocation for Madison Public Schools. New employees were announced and long time employees were honored.
And all of the schools' teachers, staff, and administrators were recognized by new Madison Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Scarice in his address.
"Your work matters," he told them, urging them to tap into their passion and expertise to find a deep sense of purpose in their work.
"Find a deep sense of purpose"
Scarice noted that the current climate in education, one that sometimes puts test scores as a leading indicator of a school system's work, can be stifling. He also said it can be discouraging to read that some experts claim that recent college graduates who take a crash course in teaching can perform as well as seasoned, well trained teachers. He said it sometimes feels like the profession of teaching is under attack.
"You can't capture that profession in one set of numbers," he said.
Scarice encouraged the teachers to find "a deep sense of purpose" in their work. That, along with a sense of autonomy, and the ability to develop a deep sense of mastery over their work would allow them to excel, he said.
"The answers can be found in the classroom"
"The answers can be found right here in the classroom," he said.
His experience with Madison Public Schools since he was hired several months ago, he said, is that there is that sense of purpose in "pockets all over the schools."
"I've seen it, I've heard it and, most importantly for me, I have felt it," he said. He talked about one staff member who was praised by parents of a child who fell ill at school and was later diagnosed with leukemia. The parents said the staff members support was instrumental in figuring out what was wrong with the child.
A teacher who encouraged a student to make mistakes, act a little crazy
Scarice also cited a letter sent to a teacher at Daniel Hand High School from a student praising the teacher for encouraging him to make mistakes and act a little crazy sometimes. This student said he often felt pressured to be perfect and that his experience in this teacher's class made him realize that mistakes can sometimes be profound learning experiences.
Scarice talked about teachers who willingly came in from training on beautiful summer days, so that they could get better at what they do.
Scarice issued a call to action to the teachers, administrators and staff.
Preparing students for the world they will enter
"What must we do to prepare out students for the world they will enter when they graduate?" he asked. He said this is something they all must strive to do, even as the profession of teaching is under attack from some quarters, and even though the world those students will enter is more complicated, dangerous and complex than ever.
He said students must be taught to think critically and through information overload. The need to become innovative problem solvers of incredibly complex problems, Scarice said.
"The world rewards deep critical thinkers," Scarice said. Intellectual conformity is paralyzing, he added.
Setting an example for the rest of the state to follow
He said he wanted Madison Public School students to be able to think outside the box and for the school system to foster a diversity of talents in the whole child, and to ignite a joy and passion for learning in the students who attend school there. He said students should be encouraged to apply what is learned, and to become ethical and responsible citizens.
He reminded the teachers, staff, and administrators that the definition of success in Madison Public Schools goes beyond test scores and that an overemphasis on test scores "can have a corrosive effect." And he said accountability is important. "We can establish that locally. We need to be accountable to the students, and to the community" that spends money for those students to be educated, he said. He encouraged them to focus on "accountability that reflects the values of our community."
"We can't submit to intellectual conformity," he said. "Let's set an example for the rest of the state to follow ... We will continue this conversation in our buildings. We will define our next level of work. It's about finding a compelling vision that unifies all of us, that defines why we are doing this work. I look forward to working side by side with you."
Madison Public Schools 2013 Paraprofessional of the Year Award: Maryann Kunst – Library Media Paraprofessional @ Polson
This is the first year of award in Connecticut and Madison.The Connecticut Paraprofessional of the Year will be announced during the Annual statewide Paraprofessionals as Partners Conference on Nov. 14th. The Paraprofessional of the Year will become a member of the School Paraprofessional Advisory Council.
Madison Public Schools 2013 Teacher of the Year Award: Peter Bizier, Brown Middle School Social Studies Teacher
The Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952. It is sponsored by the Connecticut State Department of Education, Division of Teaching and Learning Programs and services, and ING. The program begins with the selection of a teacher of the year in each local district and continues to the national level, where the Connecticut Teacher of the Year becomes eligible for national honors. The Connecticut Teacher of the Year awards ceremony is scheduled on November 15th at the Bushnell in Hartford.
New staff members include:
Daniel Hand High School
Kristina Ciotto, Paraprofessional
Jean Iaquinto, Paraprofessional
Kristen Joyce, Art Teacher
Michelle Portocarrero, Cafeteria
Nichole Rusconi, Paraprofessional
Jordan Weaver, Mathematics Teacher
Walter C. Polson Middle School
Trish Docker, Special Education Teacher
Rebecca Frost, Assistant Principal
Julia Johnson, Paraprofessional
Sarah Johnson, Science Teacher
Maki Kelly, Spanish Teacher (also at Ryerson School)
Tania Koswiewicz, Guidance Secretary
Alexandra McCoole, Special Education Teacher
Kelly Tracey, Paraprofessional
Catherine Vashel, Mathematics Teacher
Dr. Robert H. Brown Middle School
Wendy Case, Spanish Teacher
Melissa Noyes, Special Education Teacher
Rebecca Roy, Assistant Principal
Melissa Vancil, Paraprofessional
J. Milton Jeffrey Elementary School
Laura Bazenas, Paraprofessional
Mary Crosby, School Nurse
Kathleen H. Ryerson Elementary School
Shannon Tobin, Paraprofessional
Town Campus Learning Center
Deidre Luongo, Paraprofessional
Tracy Raccio, Paraprofessional
Christopher Barden, Technology Paraprofessional
Melissa Hartmann, Social Worker
Pamela Khairallah, Language Arts Instructional Specialist
Stacy Nobitz, Director of Finance
Thomas Scarice, Superintendent
And congratulations to the following employees who celebrated service anniversaries:
Ten Year Service Employees
Maria Barnikow, IAS
Scott Barton, DHHS / Facilities
Michael Carr, WCP
Ella Cinquino , JMJ
Heather Collinson, DHHS
Christine Coyle, DHHS
Joanna Flanagan, RHB
Christine Gabriele, RHB
C. J. Gladstone, WCP
Susan Greenvall, DHHS
Alyson Gwiazda, WCP
Isabelle Hahn, DHHS
Lynn Lindahl, WCP
Gail McGrimley, DHHS
Jennifer Munro, WCP
Kelly Ott, KHR
Karen Owen, WCP
Dawn Perrotti, WCP
Christina Perry, KHR
Mary Smith, KHR
Linda Staba, DHHS
Karin Thelin, DHHS
Fifteen Year Service Employees
Bill Edwards, DHHS
Jacqueline Garner, DHHS
Pablo Gonzalez, Facilities
Maryanne Harmuth, IAS
Noel Heimer, RHB
Marc Mastriano, Facilities
Donna Peck, WCP
Gregory Pfaffenbichler, RHB
Renee Poulter, Central Office
Richard Reynolds, WCP/ Facilities
Jennifer Soja, JMJ
Judith Warfel, RHB
John Wiggins-Strada, KHR
Lauren Woods, JMJ
Twenty Year Service Employees
David Bolton, RHB / Facilities
Denise Chabot, JMJ
Stephen Fuest, Central Office
Cindi Gardner, JMJ
Claire Sullivan, DHHS
Gina Wygonik, WCP
Twenty-Five Year Service Employees
Marilyn Bovee, Central Office
Flo-Ann Capiga, JMJ
Jo-Ann Marron, Central Office
Linnea Morettini, KHR
Doreen Shirley , IAS
Thirty-Five Year Service Employees
Maureen Brown, DHHS
Reid Gerritt, RHB – Currently On Leave