HPS Superintendent Surprises Our TOY 2021 Finalists

HPS Superintendent Surprises Our TOY 2021 Finalists

On the morning of Wednesday, April 7, HPS Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez surprised the three Teacher of the Year (TOY) 2021 finalists at their respective schools.  The finalists are:

  • Debra Bouldin, elementary teacher at Sanchez
  • Melissa Lesser, art teacher at Bulkeley
  • Victoria Shears, elementary resource teacher at S.A.N.D.

Victoria Shears (left) is surprised by Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez (right) as proud SAND School principal Gerardo Heredia and student, Jarieliz enjoy the news.


Sanchez School’s Debra Bouldin (right) is surprised by Dr. Torres-Rodriguez’ news, as her students, remote and in-person, listen intently.


Bulkeley High School’s Melissa Lesser is flanked by Dr. Torres-Rodriguez and proud principal Digna Marte (right)



The Superintendent visited the finalists in their classrooms to make the announcements and presented each with a beautiful spring plant, balloon, and greeting card, which read:

Congratulations! You are a 2021 Teacher of the Year Finalist! On behalf of everyone at Hartford Public Schools, I want to express my deep gratitude for the work you do every day to ensure the success of all our beautiful and capable students. Your dedication supports student access to high-quality teaching and learning, preparing them academically for college, career and life. Despite the challenges of this last year, your tireless efforts helped our students stay connected and engaged with their learning and with the HPS community. 

Thank you for your partnership and enduring commitment to our students.


Read more about TOY 2021 and the full list of nominees. The winner will be announced on May 27.

See all the photos from the Superintendent’s surprise visits to our Teacher of the Year Finalists!