LEARN Names All Educators Teachers of the Year

A Team Effort: LEARN Names All Educators Teachers of the Year
LEARN Teacher of the Year

The COVID-19 pandemic tested the adversity of LEARN’s educators like no challenge before. The agency’s teachers not only proved up to the task, but exceeded expectations and kept students engaged through a transition to online learning. Their capabilities, perseverance, and commitment throughout the entire school year led LEARN to name all its educators as the 2020 Teachers of the Year.

LEARN, the Regional Educational Service Center for southeastern Connecticut, employs 197 teachers and 45 paraprofessionals/support staff throughout its six magnet schools and two special education programs. Traditionally, each school selects one educator as its Teacher of the Year, who then form a pool of finalists for the agency’s Teacher of the Year.

However, the 2019-20 school year was far from traditional. From August through early March, school went on as it has for decades, with students in classrooms learning, reading, making music, collaborating in groups, eating lunch in the cafeteria, and playing in the gymnasium or at recess. Educators integrated technology, inspired students to get involved, and helped nurture career and artistic ambitions.

Then, on March 13, LEARN closed its buildings and went completely online through the remainder of the school year. Teachers had little time to prepare for a conversion to a completely new format. From pre-kindergarten through high school, educators had to adapt to different methods of reaching students, teaching lessons, assessing work, and consulting with colleagues. Teachers invited their students (virtually) into their homes and into their backyards. Living rooms became classrooms. Ladders and swing sets became gym class obstacle courses. Art, music, and projects were shared through online platforms.

The physical space of the school ceased to exist as education turned virtual, but the teachers’ commitment to students only increased. At LEARN’s Convocation on August 28, Associate Executive Director Ryan Donlon announced that the agency selected every educator as Teacher of the Year, recognizing the collective grace, professionalism, and expertise during unprecedented circumstances.

“Together, we’re still reeling as well as learning from the impact of COVID-19 as well as a society demanding change and true social justice,” Donlon said. “You inspire us, you motivate us to be better leaders and educators, and you make us proud every day. No one can do this alone or in isolation. Only united, and only together.”

At Convocation, LEARN also announced the individual Teachers of the Year from five magnet schools. Congratulations to the following:

  • Megan Devaney – Social Worker, The Friendship School (Waterford)
  • Malori Crouch – 4th Grade Teacher, Riverside Magnet School at Goodwin University (East Hartford)
  • Teresa Alfieri – K/1st Grade Teacher, Regional Multicultural Magnet School (New London)
  • Kate Hespeler – Special Education Teacher, Marine Science Magnet High School (Groton)
  • Rosario – Spanish Teacher, Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin University (East Hartford)

As the new school year begins, enjoy highlights from our 2019-20 school year!

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