Press Releases


Connecticut Chief, National Teacher of the Year Testify at U.S. Senate Hearing

(Washington, D.C.) – Connecticut State Department of Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker and 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell testified today at a U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, “Supporting Students and Schools: Promising Practices to Get Back on Track.”

Russell-Tucker discussed how students’ academic and mental wellbeing needs are being addressed, how Connecticut is using federal COVID-19 relief to help students recover from the pandemic, and how student voice and family engagement has been an important pillar of that work.

“Throughout this pandemic, and into recovery, we have made it a hallmark of our response and recovery efforts to work with our various partners and stakeholders — educators and administrators, families, students, advocates, policymakers, local health officials and more — as often as possible to develop and implement our policies,” Russell-Tucker said in prepared testimony.  “Policies designed without hearing different perspectives, and without our constituents’ input and feedback, are not likely to produce the intended and needed results…This collaborative approach is the way we build effective policy; we bring it to the people we serve and create numerous opportunities for conversation.”

Read Russell-Tucker’s prepared testimony here.

National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell discussed how his students were affected by school closures during the pandemic and deficits he saw in their academic skills when they returned to class in person full-time. He also discussed how his school has used federal COVID-19 relief aid, including hiring math and literacy coaches, providing tutoring and enrichment programs for students, and hiring the school’s first social worker.

“Collectively, these programs are strengthening our school’s academic and social success and giving us hope for a full recovery in the future,” Russell said in prepared testimony. “We will continue to invest in our kids to make sure we can get our students back on track with learning and engaged in school, while also paying attention to their non-academic needs. I do have concerns that, while we have the resources now for these new staff and programs, once COVID-19 relief funding runs out we may not be able to continue these critical supports.”

Russell is a 25-year veteran educator who teaches high school history in his hometown of Oberlin, Ohio. The Council of Chief State School Officers has been proud to support excellent educators like Russell through the National Teacher of the Year Program since its inception in 1952.

Read Russell’s prepared testimony here. For more on Russell and the National Teacher of the Year Program, please visit the National Teacher of the Year program website.


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, Bureau of Indian Education, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.


CCSSO Contact:

Carolyn Phenicie



CSDE Contact:

Eric Scoville 

Connecticut State Department of Education 


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