OUR PEOPLE:  Hartford Public Schools Teacher of the Year 2016 is Classical Magnet School’s Gary Lotreck!

OUR PEOPLE: Hartford Public Schools Teacher of the Year 2016 is Classical Magnet School’s Gary Lotreck!

*In a moment of levity, Teacher of the Year 2016 finalist, Rich McHugh (left) and winner, Gary Lotreck (center) hoist finalist Lauren Davern.

Published on Jun 9, 2016

On May 26th, 2016, Hartford celebrated its 2016 Teacher of the Year Banquet to announce this year’s deserving winner.  The competition for 2016 began with 43 teacher candidates nominated by their schools. The three finalists for 2016 were Lauren Davern, a Social Studies teacher at Capital Preparatory Magnet School; Gary Lotreck, an English teacher at Classical Magnet School; and Rich McHugh Jr., a third grade teacher at María Colón Sánchez School.

After speeches by Mayor Luke Bronin, Andrea Johnson, president of Hartford Federation of Teachers, and Superintendent Dr. Schiavino-Narvaez, the audience was delighted by student performances which included an original comedic cheer for Mr. McHugh by the Sanchez Crew from Sanchez School, original poetry and prose by Capital Prep students, Ahjane Forbes and Tahjae Thompson, and “Good Morning, Baltimore” from Hairspray, sung by Classical Magnet School’s Clare DiMaiolo.

After dinner and introductory speeches by the three schools’ principals, our 2015 Teacher of the Year, Leah Tarnowicz, a Middle School English Language Arts Teacher at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School, announced the winner:  Gary Lotreck from Classical Magnet School, who has been teaching at Hartford Public Schools for 27 years.

Gary Lotreck has been a Connecticut resident all of his life. Born in Hartford and raised in Tolland, he is the son of a teacher. He has been teaching English for 27 years in the Hartford Public Schools at Pathways to Technology, Hartford Public High School and Classical Magnet.  He holds a B.A. in English, an M.A. in Secondary Education – English, a Sixth-Year Degree in Education Administration and Supervision, as well as an 092 Administrative certificate, all from the University of Connecticut.  Mr. Lotreck received the honor of Teacher of the Year in 2007 at Pathways to Technology. As an English teacher, he believes in making literature come to life, to bring the ideas off of the page and into the classroom, engaging students in inquiry-based learning, writing and reading workshops, stations and centers, seminar discussions, acting and role-playing, and interactive engagement in literature.

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.

Finalist Lauren Davern grew up in Queens (NY). She graduated from ECSU and is currently working on her dissertation, having completed the coursework to earn a doctorate in Educational Leadership from CCSU. For nine years, Ms. Davern has worked to help Hartford children develop both their intellect and character, teaching students from eighth grade through 12th grade. She directs the senior social justice project, guiding seniors as they complete their action research. Ms. Davern was key in developing the Twainiac summer program at the Mark Twain House, where students learn and debate about the life and times of Mark Twain and his literary work.

Finalist Richard McHugh Jr.  was born and raised in Waterbury. Mr. McHugh fulfilled the dream of his parents, Richard Sr. and Nora, by becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college. A graduate of Holy Cross High School in Waterbury, he was inspired to become a teacher after serving as a volunteer diving coach for North End Middle School and Holy Cross High School swim teams. Mr. McHugh pursued his teaching career at CCSU, where he earned a BSED in Elementary Education and History, as well as a M.S. in Reading and Language Arts. Mr. McHugh has been teaching at Sanchez School for ten years, where he is the Lead Mentor support for new teachers.

The lead sponsor for the Teacher of the Year awards ceremony is AXA Advisors. Other major sponsors include VOYA Financial, the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin LLP, and the Hartford Federation of Teachers.

Watch our 2016 Teacher of the Year Banquet from Hartford Public Schools on Vimeo.

To watch the three Teacher of the Year 2016 finalists discuss teaching and student success with Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, click here.

This year’s nominees in alphabetical order and their schools are:


Diana Ayrula – Teacher Prep & Humanities at Bulkeley Lower School


Joe Battaglia – Law and Government Academy at HPHS


Lisa Berke – Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School


Jessica Cieri – Hartford PreK Magnet School


Jodi Clavette – Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker


Lauren Davern – Capital Preparatory Magnet


Freddie DeJesus – Renzulli Gifted & Talented Academy


Nick DeLuca – Journalism & Media Academy Magnet School


Andrew  Eaton – Capital Community Magnet School


Theresa  Ekstrom – McDonough Expeditionary Learning School


Orlene Haye – Rawson School


Sharon Horan – Naylor/CCSU Leadership Academy


Katherine Johnston – Great Path Academy Middle College High School at Manchester Community College


Tim Ketterer – Teacher Prep & Humanities at Bulkeley Higher School


Lewis Kuested – Museum Academy at Wish


Ronald Leyhow – Kennelly School


Gary Lotreck – Classical Magnet


Jennifer Mancone – Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy


Richard Mchugh – Maria Sanchez School


Carmelina Miceli – Global Communications Academy (IB)


Gregory Miska – Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver High School


Beverly Moquin  – Pathways Academy of Technology & Design


Linh Nguyen – SAND School


Kelly Peterson – Clark School


Windy Thompson-Petersen  – Breakthrough Magnet School


Louise Pulyado – STEM Magnet School at Annie Fisher School


Guy Richters – University High School of Science & Engineering


Wendy Rivera – Latino Studies Academy at Burns School


Colleen Signori – Parkville Community


Jacqueline Springer – Martin L. King Jr. School


Joanne Stergos – West Middle


Alison Stroili – Academy of Nursing & Health Sciences at HPHS


Joshua Svoboda  – Sport & Medical Sciences Academy


Jennifer Tate – High School, Inc.


Lori Thompson – M.D. Fox School


Christine Tocionis – R.J. Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts


Ayanna Vinson-Dobson – Asian Studies Academy


LaShawn Walwyn – Betances STEM


Jesse Wanzer – Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan


Teresa Webber – Breakthrough II Magnet School


Jessie Wills – Batchelder School


Barbara  Wolejko – Early Reading Lab at Betances School


Jessica Zanghi – Burr School

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