As a child growing up in in Glastonbury and Manchester, CT, Debra dreamed of being an elementary teacher. She and her sister played “school” every day and she imagined her future students being excited to learn about the world. However, Debra’s career path took a different turn when her family opened a business and she devoted herself to helping in the family store. Debra attended the University of Connecticut and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business and marketing. She learned the family jewelry business and completed a degree in Graduate Gemology and Appraising. She also discovered a passion for SCUBA diving and began assisting and teaching as a dive master. Debra truly enjoyed leading and teaching her dive students to learn something new and challenging. Twenty-five years later, her parents decided to retire, and she began to plan for and pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. Debra completed additional required course work and graduated with a Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Hartford in 2010.
After experiencing many different types of school environments during her student teaching experiences and first jobs as a long-term substitute teacher and math tutor, she found her home in the Hartford School system! Debra began at Martin Luther King Jr. as a fifth, third and second grade teacher. She helped plan, fund raise and organize a trip for her second-grade class to visit Mystic Aquarium. The goal of the trip was to have students experience more of their state and the world and to think about their future and careers in marine biology or anything they could imagine. Debra found a home at Sanchez Elementary and is excited to be a part of a community that has re-imagined itself to become an Expeditionary Learning School.
She attended a symposium in Chicago and returned to create professional development for her colleagues about how to be an amazing EL school. At Sanchez, “We are Crew” and work collaboratively to make each student feel they are an important part of their neighborhood and world. Debra also helped coordinate and formed a community partnership with the Glastonbury Rotary to benefit all students. The third-grade students experience a farm visit each year as well as outings to other sites such as Dinosaur State Park. During her 8 years at Sanchez, she has completed the TEAM mentor program and has helped new teachers have a strong professional base and a growth mindset.
Debra believes It is more vital than ever to develop, grow and expand the teaching profession. She began working with the 3rd grade team to provide additional structures and supports within the Language Arts curriculum and to deliver professional development at the district level. Debra is enthusiastic about math and she also began to work with the District Math department to teach new curriculum to her peers. She continues to enhance her knowledge through District summer curriculum institutes and the NGSS CT Science Academy. Debra is a member of both the School Governance Committee with a focus to encourage family engagement and the Union School Committee.
This year’s challenge of providing instruction to her 31 remote learning students allows her to bring the world into her classroom through technology with “Virtual” field trips and learning experiences from Hartford Performs that are engaging adventures. She encourages family engagement and delivers school supplies to families who need them. Debra believes learning should bolster her student’s confidence in their own abilities and provide encouragement to explore their future possibilities. She is now living her dream of being a proud Hartford Public Schools teacher!