Connecticut Teacher of the Year 2015 - Cara Quinn
Sunset Ridge School, East Hartford, CT
Cara Quinn has been an educator in Connecticut for the last eleven years. She began her career in the small town of Bolton, Connecticut as a 4th grade teacher. A desire to help children in need led her to become a teacher in East Hartford, Connecticut where she has taught for the last nine years. Cara is deeply committed to bringing equity to education and is dedicated to closing the achievement gap.
Cara strives to develop each student’s ability to think critically and creatively so that they may make a unique, positive contribution to enrich the world. No matter what grade she has taught, this has always been her greatest ambition as an educator.
She shares that her greatest rewards in teaching stem from watching her students make dramatic academic improvements that they and others never thought were possible. “Witnessing my students realize their true potential, develop self-efficacy and shatter their individual glass ceilings is what strengthens my drive as an educator.”
Equally as important to Cara is ensuring that her students develop their character. Whether it be committing 26 acts of kindness to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook School tragedy, sponsoring a Haitian child’s education through a ratio project in mathematics, or inviting an ostracized classmate to join them at lunch. “When my students see someone in need and are compelled to act; these are my proudest moments,” Cara states.
Cara is not only a dedicated teacher but also seeks to provide students with enriching experiences outside of the classroom. For the past three years she has organized a University of Connecticut College Immersion experiences for all 6th grade students with the hope of inspiring and motivating them to go to college. She also spearheads an annual Career Day even for students with numerous professionals presenting from the community. Cara has fostered connections between her students and a survivor of the Holocaust, who she hosts each year at her school.
Her students remark that she is kind, strict, and crazy “in a good way.” They appreciate her caring demeanor, her sense of humor, and her creative efforts to engage them. “Mrs. Quinn will speak with an Irish accent, change the lyrics to our favorite songs to teach us new things, and will dance feverishly to celebrate an outstanding answer. I’m so glad that I’m in her class.”
Cara earned her Bachelor’s Degree in 2003 and Master’s Degree in 2004 from the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education. She also completed a 6th year program in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University in 2013. Cara resides in West Hartford with her husband, Matt Quinn, their bright and joyful daughter, Grace, and their two lovable rescue dogs, Bruno and Charlie.
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.