Governor Lamont Announces Woodland Regional High School Educator Named Connecticut’s 2020 Teacher of the Year
Ms. Meghan Hatch-Geary Earns State’s Highest Teaching Recognition
(BEACON FALLS, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona today announced that Meghan Hatch-Geary, an English teacher from Regional School District 16’s Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls, has been selected as Connecticut’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, the state’s highest recognition honoring extraordinary teachers.
The governor, commissioner, and other state and local officials gave Ms. Hatch-Geary the news during a surprise visit to her classroom, which was followed by a school-wide assembly giving students and her fellow educators an opportunity to celebrate the recognition.
In her eleventh year of teaching, Ms. Hatch-Geary is passionate about working with young people both inside and outside of the classroom. She currently teaches freshman world literature and advanced placement English language composition. She also serves as the English teacher for the region’s alternative program H.A.W.K.S. (Helping All Woodland Kids Succeed).
“The success and developments that we see happening throughout our state and our world in science, technology, humanities, health, and business are the direct result of effective teachers who spent years developing young minds to become accomplished adults, and we owe it all to those educators who’ve dedicated their careers to this noble profession,” Governor Lamont said. “Connecticut has the best public school teachers in the nation. There are so many educators in Connecticut that we need to recognize for their service to our schools and our students. Ms. Hatch-Geary embodies so many of the qualities that delivers success in our schools, and the Woodland community has been singing her praises. I am honored on behalf of the State of Connecticut to announce that Ms. Hatch-Geary is our state’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, and I thank her and every teacher for what they provide our schools each and every day.”
“In Meghan, her students – past and present – have a champion, an advocate and a friend to inspire and empower them,” Commissioner Cardona said. “Whether it’s the network of relationships she builds and maintains or her work in the classroom and extracurricular organizations like Woodland Worldwide, Meghan demonstrates that the impact educators have on the lives of their students goes well beyond the walls of the schoolhouse. If you ask me why teaching is up there with the most important professions in the world, I would point to outstanding educators like Meghan and say ‘Because teachers shape lives!’ It is such a pleasure to pay tribute to Meghan and her colleagues across the state for all they do to cultivate the talent of our young people and prepare them to thrive in school and life. Congratulations to Meghan, her district and her school on her selection as Teacher of the Year.”
|Governor Ned Lamont makes a surprise visit to Meghan Hatch-Geary's classroom at Woodland Regional High School to announce that she is Connecticut's 2020 Teacher of the Year. [Download in high quality]|
Raised in Meriden and a graduate of Maloney High School, Ms. Hatch-Geary went on to study musical theatre at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and spent a decade living and working in New York City. She received her bachelor’s degree from Hunter College, where she majored in Black and Latino studies and minored in English literature. Inspired by her work at Hunter, she traveled overseas, volunteering as a primary school teacher in Ghana and as a community outreach educator in Ecuador. Those experiences had a profound impact, leading her to pursue her graduate degree in education at the University of New Haven.
Since joining the faculty of Woodland Regional High School, she became a founding member and co-advisor of Woodland Worldwide, an extracurricular organization that works to empower young women, developing their leadership skills through activism while expanding opportunities for women and girls both locally and globally. In 2013, the club received a “Recognition of Excellence” award from the Connecticut Association of Schools for “raising awareness about gender discrimination and media bias, promoting equal access to education for females, advancing leadership and service opportunities, combating gender stereotyping, and working to end human trafficking worldwide.” She also co-advises the Class of 2022 and is the co-chair of Woodland’s data team.
Ms. Hatch-Geary was named “A Woman to Watch” by the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) for “demonstrated leadership, potential to excel, and dedication to the community.”
The designation of Connecticut Teacher of the Year is decided each year by the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Council, a group comprised of former recipients of the honor as well as representatives from educational organizations, businesses, and the community. The council reviewed nearly 100 district-level Teachers of the Year through a rigorous selection process that included on-side visits, candidate applications, interviews, and observations of teaching.
When discussing how education transcends the classroom, Ms. Hatch Geary told the council, “I know that what we’ve provided for our students through Woodland Worldwide has deeply impacted their lives and shaped their futures. I’m fortunate to have maintained strong relationships with students, many of whom have graduated college and are pursuing careers centered on activism, social justice, service, and education. I see the direct results of our impact not only in their choice of profession, but when they return to Woodland to present workshops, perform in our awareness-raising cabaret show, or speak to our classes. They are proof that learning is not relegated to the classroom, and that sometimes the most powerful and lasting lessons happen after school. Working with our students and watching them find and use their voices to take action in their lives and communities has been immeasurably rewarding. It is the reason I became a teacher, and the reason I believe teaching is the most powerful profession in the world.”
Ms. Hatch-Geary will now become Connecticut’s representative for 2020 National Teacher of the Year. She succeeds 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Sheena Graham, a performing arts and choir teacher at Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport.
“On behalf of the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Council, we are thrilled to welcome Meghan Hatch-Geary to our impressive group of Connecticut Teachers of the Year,” Dave Bosso, President of the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Council, said. “Meghan’s passion, dedication, and accomplishments are a reflection of the amazing educators who inspire us and transform students’ lives, and we are proud that she will be representing us during her year of honor as the Connecticut 2020 Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to Meghan, and to her fellow Teachers of the Year from over 100 of Connecticut’s school districts. We look forward to recognizing and celebrating each of them at our annual ceremony next month.”
“We are so proud to see Meghan Hatch-Geary recognized for the invaluable work she does and for the talent, passion, and dedication she brings to the teaching profession,” Connecticut Education Association President Jeff Leake said. “Her work, like that of her peers, does not begin and end when the bell rings, it extends well beyond the school day and well beyond the walls of her classroom, into extracurriculars, and the community sphere. Connecticut’s teachers truly enrich the lives of their students and delight in their personal and academic achievements, and we are pleased to honor Meghan as an ambassador for the profession. She is an exemplar and an inspiration.”
“Meghan embodies the true meaning of an educator,” Regional School District 16 Superintendent Michael Yamin said. “It is a career path and a life choice for Meghan, much more than a job. One of her students said it best, ‘Ms. Geary sees the potential of each individual student and does not give up on them before they can flourish. She has mastered the artistry of engaging students of all abilities, interests and personalities by recognizing their individual strengths and adapting her methods to suit.’ Meghan also believes that learning should transcend the classroom and pushes her students to fight against injustice and raise social awareness while preparing them for school-to-career pathways. She is exceptional and we are fortunate to have her as a member of the Region 16 school community.”
“Meghan has enjoyed incredible life experiences that have molded her into the dynamic and caring teacher that she is today,” Woodland Regional High School Principal Kurt Ogren said. “From her time living and working in New York City to her first teaching experience in a rural fishing village on the coast of Ghana to her work experiences in both Ecuador and Peru, Meghan has learned about the world and the incredible people in it. Since 2009, she has called her classroom at Woodland Regional High School her home away from home, and the communities of both Prospect and Beacon Falls are most fortunate. As a teacher and a person, Meghan is a difference-maker, positive change agent, inclusive, enthusiastic, innovative, collaborative, compassionate, fully committed, open-minded, humorous, articulate, and incredibly intelligent. Meghan inspires her students each and every single day and she will serve as the perfect representative for all Connecticut teachers.”
About the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program
The Connecticut Teacher of the Year program began in 1952. It is intended to recognize teacher excellence and honors those who have inspired a love for learning in their students and who have distinguished themselves in the profession. The program is administered by the State Department of Education’s Talent Office along with a number of corporate, organizational, and individual sponsors. The selection process begins with the designation of a Teacher of the Year in each district and continues to the national level, where the Connecticut Teacher of the Year becomes eligible for national honors.
The Connecticut Teacher of the Year and Teacher of the Year finalists serve as teacher-ambassadors for public education. They are appointed to various education advisory committees and become consultants to the education commissioner. They present workshops, speak at education conferences and meetings, address student, civic, college and university, and governmental groups and operate special programs in accordance with their interests and expertise. The Connecticut Teacher of the Year also represents the state at the national level by participating in national educational forums, National State Teacher of the Year Program planning and networking sessions, and U.S. Department of Education meetings.