Connecticut Teacher of the Year 2013 - Blaise Messinger
Woodside Intermediate School, Cromwell, CT
Blaise Messinger teaches fifth grade at Woodside Intermediate School in Cromwell, CT. After many years as an actor, he began teaching in Los Angeles in 1998. He likes to say, "Teaching is pretty much the same job as acting, but with a tougher audience and a new six-hour show every day." He spent six years teaching at Annandale Elementary in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park before moving to Connecticut to be closer to family. He has taught in Cromwell ever since.
He was drawn to a career in education after seeing the impact that excellent teaching had on his son, Ethan, who has autism. Under the tutelage of expert teachers, Ethan made great gains, and Blaise realized what an excellent teacher could do, not just for students, but also for their families. It was then that he realized he wanted to be part of that. He wanted to be able to make a difference in the life of a child and that child’s family.
Blaise believes that all children are just aching to learn. They want something to rouse them out of the ennui and tedium. The key to unlocking the joy and wonder inherent in all students begins with the relationship between the teacher and that child, and the environment created in the classroom to nurture that bond. As such, he strives to make his classroom come alive with laughter and excitement, and he feels he is successful when his students go home and say, "Guess what we did in school today!"
Blaise lives in Cromwell with his wife, Kimberley, a paraprofessional who works with special needs children, and his two sons, Ethan and Caleb. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.F.A. from the University of San Diego. He considers himself extremely fortunate to have a job that he loves to do.
Duties of the Connecticut Teacher of the Year
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 Commissioner of Education. 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 - participating in national educational forums, National State Teacher of the Year Program planning and networking sessions, and U.S. Department of Education meetings.