Governor Lamont Announces Bristol Educator Named Connecticut’s 2023 Teacher of the Year
Carolyn Kielma Earns State’s Highest Teaching Recognition
(BRISTOL, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker today announced that Carolyn Kielma, a science teacher at Bristol Eastern High School in Bristol, has been selected as Connecticut’s 2023 Teacher of the Year, the state’s highest recognition honoring extraordinary teachers.
Governor Lamont and Commissioner Russell-Tucker this morning delivered the news to Kielma during a surprise visit to the high school, which was followed by a schoolwide assembly celebrating the recognition with the honoree’s fellow educators, family, and students from both schools.
Governor Lamont said, “Connecticut has the best public school teachers of any state in the nation, and there are so many exemplary teachers in our state we need to recognize for their service to our schools and our students. It is an honor for us to highlight the incredible work of Bristol Eastern High School’s Ms. Carolyn Kielma. She embodies so many of the effective qualities that transform students’ lives. I am thrilled today to visit her classroom, deliver this news directly to her in-person, and let her know how much we appreciate the dedication she has brought to her career as a teacher.”
Commissioner Russell-Tucker said, “Educators are a critical part of ensuring that our students are prepared for the real-world challenges that they will face in their postsecondary career and in life. I am honored to recognize Carolyn Kielma as our 2023 Connecticut Teacher of the Year, and I am confident she will serve as an effective teacher ambassador for the thousands of talented Connecticut educators in this upcoming year.”
Since 2002, Carolyn Kielma has brought a love of science to public high school students in Connecticut through teaching. For the last 15 years she has taught biology, biotechnology and forensics, environmental science, biotechnical engineering, anatomy and physiology, and the Advancement Via Individual Determination program (AVID) elective class at Bristol Eastern High School. Since earning her bachelor of science degree in biology from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, and her master of science degree in secondary education from the University of New Haven, Kielma has found that her greatest rewards in teaching come from the successes of her students—not just in the field of science but in life.
Kielma believes educators are masters of adaptation and evolution. She hopes to strengthen and improve her profession by focusing on ensuring the representation of all voices within her lessons while evolving and creating measurements of intelligence that reflect all of Connecticut’s scholars. Kielma feels educator collaboration is essential to build and develop strategies to promote a culture of equity and inclusion and provide opportunities for all students across the state.
Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association, said, “Carolyn Kielma is a shining example of how teachers across the state connect with their students and why those connections matter. She has described these relationships as her greatest career reward – a feeling that every educator can relate to. We are proud to congratulate Carolyn as well as all our exemplary educators around the state making a difference every day.”
Jan Hochadel, president of AFT Connecticut, said, “Educators want students to be successful, both in and outside the classroom, and nobody strives for that or demonstrates that better than Carolyn. She exemplifies excellence in our profession and our members couldn’t be prouder of her well-deserved recognition.”
Dr. David Bosso, president of the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Council, said, “The Connecticut Teacher of the Year family is honored and thrilled to welcome Carolyn Kielma as another remarkable representative of the teachers of Connecticut and of our profession as a whole. It is abundantly evident how much of a positive impact she has on her school community and the difference she makes in the lives of her students. Like so many amazing teachers in our state, her passion, dedication, expertise, and professionalism shine through every day.”
Dr. Catherine Carbone, superintendent of Bristol Public Schools, said, “We could not be more proud of Ms. Kielma. She is a talented, dedicated, and exemplary educator and well-deserving of the state’s highest teaching honor. I am truly excited for the impact that she will have beyond Bristol Public Schools and on educators throughout the State of Connecticut.”
Michael Higgins, principal of Bristol Eastern High School, said, “Ms. Kielma’s enthusiasm for her students and the content that she teaches is contagious. She is student-centered and brings an energy to her classrooms that is beyond compare.”
The designation of Connecticut Teacher of the Year is decided annually by the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Council, a group composed of former recipients of the honor and 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 candidate applications, interviews, and school site visits, as well as focus groups with faculty, parents, administration, and students.
Kielma will now become Connecticut’s representative for 2023 National Teacher of the Year. She succeeds Connecticut’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, Kim King, an art teacher at both the Southeast Elementary School and the Annie E. Vinton School in Mansfield.