Connecticut Teacher of the Year 2023 and 2023 National Teacher of the Year Finalist – Carolyn Kielma
Bristol Eastern High School, Bristol Public Schools
HistoryThe Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952 and is held every year to recognize and honor teacher excellence. The program is sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Education in partnership with the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Council. Each year, the process begins with school districts selecting a District Teacher of the Year through their local process. The District Teachers of the Year provide biographical and professional information in an online application to be considered for the Connecticut Teacher of the Year honor. Connecticut’s teacher is then eligible for consideration to become the National Teacher of the Year. The 2023 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Carolyn Kielma is a 2023 National Teacher of the Year finalist. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest national honors program that focuses on excellence in teaching. The NTOY is chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a National Selection Committee representing the major national education organizations. Four Connecticut teachers have had the honor of also serving as National Teachers of the Year.
BenefitsThe Teacher of the Year program is designed to recognize educators who inspire a love for learning in their students and who have distinguished themselves in the profession. Local districts have found it is a way to select a teacher who represents excellence in the teaching profession. The selected finalist and semi-finalist cohort are also invited to participate in forums, conferences and networking events and to share their best practices in the classroom.
CriteriaYour local teacher of the year will only be considered as a candidate for the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program if s/he completes the entire application, works directly with students at least 50% of the time, and is currently working under a Connecticut certificate with a teaching endorsement or a vocational teaching endorsement. If your candidate does not meet these requirements or chooses not to be considered as a candidate for the Connecticut Teacher of the Year award, s/he can still be honored at the annual recognition ceremony and should be encouraged to attend.
The 2024 Connecticut Teacher of the Year application must be completed and submitted electronically. Paper applications will not be accepted. Applications are due Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.
Names of exemplary teachers are forwarded to superintendents from each school in the local districts. Superintendents or local selection committees, using a district developed process, select district teachers of the year. Each district teacher of the year is eligible to submit an application to the State Department of Education for consideration as Connecticut Teacher of the Year. The teachers’ application packets include biographical and professional information, essays on topics ranging from personal teaching philosophy to the issues facing public education, and letters of endorsement. Each application is reviewed by at least five members of a statewide selection committee representing the state's major educational organizations, former state teachers of the year, and community stakeholders. The review of applications identifies 12-15 semifinalists who are invited to make a formal presentation on a pre-assigned topic, and to respond to questions as part of an interview process. Finally, four finalists are visited at their schools, where selection committee members observe the teachers’ classes, interview colleagues, administrators, and students, as well as support staff, parents, and local board of education members. At the conclusion of the site visits, the selection committee meets and selects The Connecticut Teacher of the Year.
All local school district nominees, semifinalists, finalists, and the Connecticut Teacher of the Year are recognized individually at an awards ceremony each year. More than 1000 guests are usually present at the event. The State Teacher of the Year and other State Teachers of the Year are also recognized by the President at a White House reception, and are invited to a national conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. They also attend the Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama, and the Education Commission of the States National Forum on Education Policy in Atlanta.
The 2024 Teacher of the Year Ceremony will take place on November 15, 2023 at the Bushnell Center for Performing Arts in Hartford, CT.
Duties of the Connecticut Teacher of the Year
The Connecticut Teacher of the Year and the three finalists serve as teacher-ambassadors for public education. They are appointed to various education advisory committees and can engage in work with the Commissioner of Education. They present workshops and speak at education conferences to address student, civic, university, and governmental groups. The Connecticut Teacher of the Year can also develop special programs in accordance with their interests and expertise to share in a variety of public forums. The Connecticut Teacher of the Year represents the state at the national level by participating in national educational forums, National Teacher of the Year Program planning and networking sessions, and U.S. Department of Education meetings.
If you would like to invite the current CT Teacher of the Year to speak at your school or event, please fill out the Event Request Form.
|Connecticut Teacher of the Year Honor Roll|
|Meghan Hatch-Geary||2020||Region 16, Beacon Falls, Prospect|
|Lauren Danner||2017||North Branford|
|Jahana Hayes **||2016||Waterbury|
|Cara Quinn||2015||East Hartford|
|John F. Mastroianni||2014||West Hartford|
|Kristin Ann Record||2011||Stratford|
|Kristi M. Luetjen||2010||West Hartford|
|Anthony J. Mullen**||2009||Greenwich|
|Joan Hurley||2008||CREC, West Hartford|
|Christopher Poulos||2007||Region 9, Easton, Redding|
|Mary Kay Rendock||2006||Bloomfield|
|Burt Saxon||2005||New Haven|
|William P. Davenport||2004||Woodbury|
|Wendy Nelson Kauffman||2003||Bloomfield|
|Marian Galbraith*||2002||Groton (National Finalist)|
|Elizabeth Ann Collinge||2000||North Haven|
|Fie K. Budzinsky*||1996||Portland|
|Patti Avallone||1995||West Haven|
|Robert Coleman||1992||Region 15, Middlebury, Southbury|
|Linda Matthews||1991||West Haven|
|Carol R. Virostek||1989||Berlin|
|Bert J. Neumaier||1987||South Windsor|
|Deborah Gladding Willard||1986||Glastonbury|
|Thomas J. Sullivan||1985||Region 4, Chester, Deep River, Essex|
|Roger A. Morrissette||1984||West Hartford|
|Shirley J. Gillis*||1981||New London|
|Henry F. Jemioto||1970||Derby|
|Sheila Mary Schmidt||1969||Windsor|
|Harold Frazier*||1964||West Hartford|
* Indicates National Teacher of the Year Finalist
** Indicates National Teacher of the Year