HPS Teachers Nominated for CT COLT Language Teacher of the Year

HPS Teachers Nominated for CT COLT Language Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to University High School of Science and Engineering Spanish teacher, Jessica Serrano and Classical Magnet School Ancient Greek and Latin teacher, Catherine Bernoski. Ms. Serrano and Ms. Bernoski were each nominated for the 2020-2021 CT_COLT Language Teacher of the Year Award which celebrates world language education in our schools. The Connecticut Council of Language Teachers (CT_COLT) Teacher of the Year program was established to elevate the status and public profile of language learning in our state.

The CT COLT Language Teacher of the Year is selected from among highly qualified candidates, based on a statement about the value of learning languages and developing cultural competence, as well as professional experience, and letters of recommendation. The Teacher of the Year Committee seeks to select a candidate who demonstrates high leverage teaching practices, enthusiasm for language learning, and the potential for serving as an influential advocate for languages.

Ms. Serrano is a proud native from Bayamon, Puerto Rico who relocated to CT in 1996. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico on 1994 and completed a Masters in Secondary Education at Saint Joseph University.  Currently Ms. Serrano is working on a Second Master of Teaching Language and Culture in Spanish as a second Language at the University of Granada, Spain. She began teaching 16 years ago and has taught for 5 years in the district of Hartford. At UHSSE, Ms. Serrano is a proud Spanish teacher, the class advisor for the Visionary class 2020, Word Language Department leader, and Founder and Advisor for UHSSE’s Society of Hispanic Professionals and Engineers, Jr. Chapter (SHPE Jr.)

She states, “My teaching philosophy has always been to take my students beyond the classroom; to not only acquire language skills but to offer them the opportunity to experience a different culture. Bringing as many experiences as I can, helps offer dynamic and vibrant learning opportunities to broaden their view of the world. My passion for the Spanish language and desire to show students real and authentic experiences in addition to providing different resources is what drives me as an educator. I’m always reflecting on my own teaching practices in order to create interactive lesson within my class, providing components that contribute to socially engage and globally aware student.”

Jessica Serrano (far left) and her UHSSE Society of Hispanic Engineers Jr Chapter students

Catherine Bernoski graduated from Union College with a Bachelor’s degree in Classics, taught in Georgia for two years, Kent School for six years, and has been part of Classical Magnet School teaching both Ancient Greek and Latin

Catherine “Kate” Bernoski

for twenty years.  Last year, she was one of several HPS winners of CFM Foundation mini-grants that she used to cover dues for the re-establishment of the Junior Classical League Chapter, which fosters learning in Classical languages.  She lives in West Hartford with her husband, Marty and daughter, Brigid.

Ms. Bernoski reflects, “Teaching World Languages is an exciting challenge that introduces students to cultures and experiences outside what they know and allows them to make connections to others both past and present. Exploring other languages helps students become better global citizens, provides students with insight to a world outside what they currently know and see, and is vital to student development mentally, emotionally, academically, and socially.”

The CT COLT Language Teacher of the Year will be announced in early June. This person will serve as a spokesperson and advocate for language learning in the state of Connecticut, with special guest appearances at our June Summer Institute and Fall Conference in October. He or she also participates in our Board meetings, and is invited to write articles for our quarterly newsletter. In January, the Teacher of the Year will submit an application to be considered as the Northeast Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) Teacher of the Year. NECTFL is a regional world language association that encompasses 14 states from Maine to Virginia. The candidate will be an invited guest at that conference, which occurs in New York in February. The NECTFL Teacher of the Year then is considered among 4 other regional finalists from across the country for the ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year.

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