Hartford’s 2017 Teacher of the Year!
6th Grade Teacher Sonia Turner of Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School earned the honor of Hartford Public Schools Teacher of the Year 2017.
The winner (seated at center of photo above) was announced on Thursday, May 25, 2017, at the annual Hartford Teacher of the Year Banquet in the Marriott Hartford Downtown Hotel. In a moving acceptance speech, Mrs. Turner thanked her family, her school family and friends, and confirmed that her love for her work is all about the success of each of her students.
Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez served as master of ceremonies for the evening, and culminated the event stating that, “What makes our schools excellent is the magic that every one of our teachers brings to their classrooms every day.”
All Hartford Public Schools teachers were saluted by the large crowd, which included Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Board of Education Chairman Craig Stallings, HFT Union President Andrea Johnson, event sponsors including Bob Klein and Steven Moretta of Voya, and more.
Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School Social Worker Wanda Ramos, far left, Mr. Turner, and Annie Fisher STEM teacher Gina Kimber, far right, celebrate with Mrs. Sonia Turner, center.
Sonia Turner was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. After graduating from Bulkeley High School she attended the Hartford College for Women where she earned a Liberal Arts Degree. She continued her education at the University of Hartford where she earned her B.A. in Elementary Education and obtained her CT state teaching certificate. Mrs. Turner later attended Central Connecticut State University where she earned her master’s degree in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts. She has been an educator within the Hartford Public School for over 18 years at the Annie Fisher School. Mrs. Turner has served in several educational capacities such as classroom teacher, literacy coach and as a reading intervention teacher impacting hundreds of children in Hartford. She is also an active member within her church community at The First Church of the Living God in Hartford.
Left to right are Bob Klein of Voya Financial, Hartford Federation of Teachers President Andrea Johnson, Teacher of the Year 2017 Sonia Turner, Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, and Hartford Board of Education Chairman Craig Stallings.
All 41 of the Teacher of the Year nominees were cheered loudly by their own schools and by the giddy crowd as they received their awards at the banquet; a lively affirmation of the great love Hartford has for all of its teachers and schools. The other two finalists this year were William Conroy-Longo, TESOL teacher from McDonough Expeditionary Learning School (MELS) and Katelin Jacobs, Kindergarten and 1st grade teacher from Breakthrough II Magnet School.
William Conroy was born and raised in Bridgeport and Stratford. He was inspired to become a teacher by his mother, a Bridgeport Public School teacher of ESL, Portuguese, and Multicultural Studies. Mr. Conroy pursued his teaching career at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education where he earned a B.S. in Elementary Education and his M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction. He has been teaching in Harford for ten years; his first five years were at Batchelder, one year at Capital Prep, three years at Bulkeley, and currently, he is the English Learner Coach at McDonough. Mr. Conroy is actively engaged with many students in his community by both co-facilitating the True Colors club and helping create the Newcomers’ Center at McDonough.
Katelin Jacobs was born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut. She earned her elementary education teaching certificate after completing a B.S in Elementary Education and History from Central Connecticut State University. Mrs. Jacobs also went on to earn a M.S degree in Special Education from Central Connecticut State University. She is currently working towards her sixth year degree in Educational Leadership. As someone who believes in providing a positive and encouraging atmosphere for her students, she worked throughout the last year to bring a Therapy Dog program to Breakthrough II to help struggling students build their reading confidence. Additionally, she serves on the School Governance Council, helps co-run Breakthrough II’s school garden, operates the school’s website, acts as a Cohort Literacy Lead, and has lead several district professional developments programs.
Here are all of this year’s nominees in alphabetical order:
Melissa Anderson – Burns Latino Studies Academy
Dennis Annicelli – SAND School
Marci Ashley – L. W. Batchelder School
Virginia Bendig – M.D. Fox School
Elizabeth Benfield – University High School of Science & Engineering
Caitlin Bexley – Museum Academy at Wish
Yolanda Colón – Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver High School
William Conroy – McDonough Expeditionary Learning School (MELS)
Kristen Crawford – Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School (ELAMS)
Kimberly Daly – Betances STEM School
Melissa Dresko – Breakthrough Magnet School
James Goldman – Sarah J. Rawson School
Jane Grahn – Early Reading Lab at Betances School
Robin Green-Liddell – New Visions
Amybeth Gustavson – Pathways Academy of Technology & Design
Susan Hanjian – Dr. Joseph S. Renzulli Gifted & Talented Academy
Linda Henriques – Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School
Graciela Irizarry – Asian Studies Academy at Bellizzi
Katelin Jacobs – Breakthrough II Magnet School
Susan Johnston – Journalism & Media Academy
Deena Jud – Hartford PreK Magnet School
Barbara Kiczuk – Alfred E. Burr School
Danielle Knobloch – Bulkeley Teacher Prep & Humanities School
Violetta Kovaci – Law and Government Academy at HPHS
Jared Lewis – Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA)
Lauren Lieberman – E.B. Kennelly School
Maureen Lozinski – María C. Colón Sánchez Elementary School
Patrick Mairson – Parkville Community School
Jennifer Merritt – Thirman L. Milner School
Barbara Michelson – Dr. James H Naylor/CCSU Leadership Academy
Janet Muldoon-Ellsworth – Academy of Engineering & Green Technology at HPHS
Maria Nelson – Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker
Lawrence Nevins – R.J. Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts
Avi Ornstein – Classical Magnet School
Doris Paluso-Davanzo – Great Path Academy at Manchester Community College
Alden Paye – Global Communications Academy (IB)
Krycia Rybczyk – High School, Inc.
Elizabeth Slot – Academy of Nursing & Health Sciences at HPHS
Trisha Sullivan – Martin Luther King Jr. School
Sonia Turner – Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School
Melanie Zamorski – Sport & Medical Sciences Academy (SMSA)
Qualifying nominees must be tenured K-12 teachers in Hartford Public Schools; must exhibit exemplary teaching skills; and must show commitment to the principle that all children can learn. They also had to demonstrate their active engagement in community and humanitarian affairs, among other requirements. The selection committee included two former Teacher of the Year winners, the Assistant Superintendent of Talent Management; the Executive Director of English Learner Services, and an official from the Hartford Federation of Teachers.
The lead sponsor for the Teacher of the Year awards ceremony is VOYA Financial. Other major sponsors include AXA Advisors/Retirement Benefits Group, the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin LLP, and the Hartford Federation of Teachers.