20 Aug 2014
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"Your Work Matters"

Peter Bizier, Brown Middle School social studies teacher, and Maryann Kunst, library media paraprofessional at Polson Middle School receive awards. New staff members at all schools introduced, long time employees honored at recent convocation.

"Your Work Matters" "Your Work Matters" "Your Work Matters" "Your Work Matters" "Your Work Matters" "Your Work Matters"


Peter Bizier from Brown Middle School and Maryann Kunst from Polson Middle School were named teacher of the year and paraprofessional of the year, respectively, at the recent convocation for Madison Public Schools. New employees were announced and long time employees were honored.

And all of the schools' teachers, staff, and administrators were recognized by new Madison Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Scarice in his address.

"Your work matters," he told them, urging them to tap into their passion and expertise to find a deep sense of purpose in their work.

"Find a deep sense of purpose"

Scarice noted that the current climate in education, one that sometimes puts test scores as a leading indicator of a school system's work, can be stifling. He also said it can be discouraging to read that some experts claim that recent college graduates who take a crash course in teaching can perform as well as seasoned, well trained teachers. He said it sometimes feels like the profession of teaching is under attack.

"You can't capture that profession in one set of numbers," he said.

Scarice encouraged the teachers to find "a deep sense of purpose" in their work. That, along with a sense of autonomy, and the ability to develop a deep sense of mastery over their work would allow them to excel, he said.

"The answers can be found in the classroom"

"The answers can be found right here in the classroom," he said.

His experience with Madison Public Schools since he was hired several months ago, he said, is that there is that sense of purpose in "pockets all over the schools."

"I've seen it, I've heard it and, most importantly for me, I have felt it," he said. He talked about one staff member who was praised by parents of a child who fell ill at school and was later diagnosed with leukemia. The parents said the staff members support was instrumental in figuring out what was wrong with the child.

A teacher who encouraged a student to make mistakes, act a little crazy

Scarice also cited a letter sent to a teacher at Daniel Hand High School from a student praising the teacher for encouraging him to make mistakes and act a little crazy sometimes. This student said he often felt pressured to be perfect and that his experience in this teacher's class made him realize that mistakes can sometimes be profound learning experiences.

Scarice talked about teachers who willingly came in from training on beautiful summer days, so that they could get better at what they do.

Scarice issued a call to action to the teachers, administrators and staff.

Preparing students for the world they will enter

"What must we do to prepare out students for the world they will enter when they graduate?" he asked. He said this is something they all must strive to do, even as the profession of teaching is under attack from some quarters, and even though the world those students will enter is more complicated, dangerous and complex than ever.

He said students must be taught to think critically and through information overload. The need to become innovative problem solvers of incredibly complex problems, Scarice said.

"The world rewards deep critical thinkers," Scarice said. Intellectual conformity is paralyzing, he added.

Setting an example for the rest of the state to follow

He said he wanted Madison Public School students to be able to think outside the box and for the school system to foster a diversity of talents in the whole child, and to ignite a joy and passion for learning in the students who attend school there. He said students should be encouraged to apply what is learned, and to become ethical and responsible citizens.

He reminded the teachers, staff, and administrators that the definition of success in Madison Public Schools goes beyond test scores and that an overemphasis on test scores "can have a corrosive effect." And he said accountability is important. "We can establish that locally. We need to be accountable to the students, and to the community" that spends money for those students to be educated, he said. He encouraged them to focus on "accountability that reflects the values of our community."

"We can't submit to intellectual conformity," he said. "Let's set an example for the rest of the state to follow ... We will continue this conversation in our buildings. We will define our next level of work. It's about finding a compelling vision that unifies all of us, that defines why we are doing this work. I look forward to working side by side with you."

Madison Public Schools 2013 Paraprofessional of the Year Award: Maryann  Kunst – Library Media Paraprofessional @ Polson

    This is the first year of award in Connecticut and Madison.The Connecticut Paraprofessional of the Year will be announced during the Annual statewide Paraprofessionals as Partners Conference on Nov. 14th.  The Paraprofessional of the Year will become a member of the School Paraprofessional Advisory Council. 

    Madison Public Schools 2013 Teacher of the Year Award: Peter Bizier, Brown Middle School Social Studies Teacher

      The Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952. It is sponsored by the Connecticut State Department of Education, Division of Teaching and Learning Programs and services, and ING. The program begins with the selection of a teacher of the year in each local district and continues to the national level, where the Connecticut Teacher of the Year becomes eligible for national honors. The Connecticut Teacher of the Year awards ceremony is scheduled on November 15th at the Bushnell in Hartford.

      New staff members include:

      Daniel Hand High School 

      Kristina Ciotto, Paraprofessional
      Jean Iaquinto, Paraprofessional

      Kristen Joyce, Art Teacher

      Michelle Portocarrero, Cafeteria

      Nichole Rusconi, Paraprofessional

      Jordan Weaver, Mathematics Teacher


      Walter C. Polson Middle School 

      Trish Docker, Special Education Teacher

      Rebecca Frost, Assistant Principal

      Julia Johnson, Paraprofessional

      Sarah Johnson, Science Teacher

      Maki Kelly, Spanish Teacher (also at Ryerson School)

      Tania Koswiewicz, Guidance Secretary

      Alexandra McCoole, Special Education Teacher

      Kelly Tracey, Paraprofessional

      Catherine Vashel, Mathematics Teacher


      Dr. Robert H. Brown Middle School 

      Wendy Case, Spanish Teacher

      Melissa Noyes, Special Education Teacher

      Rebecca Roy, Assistant Principal

      Melissa Vancil, Paraprofessional


      J. Milton Jeffrey Elementary School 

      Laura Bazenas, Paraprofessional

      Mary Crosby, School Nurse



      Kathleen H. Ryerson Elementary School

      Shannon Tobin, Paraprofessional

      Town Campus Learning Center

      Deidre Luongo, Paraprofessional

      Tracy Raccio, Paraprofessional


      Christopher Barden, Technology Paraprofessional

      Melissa Hartmann, Social Worker

      Pamela Khairallah, Language Arts Instructional Specialist

      Stacy Nobitz, Director of Finance

      Thomas Scarice, Superintendent


      And congratulations to the following employees who celebrated service anniversaries:


      Ten Year Service Employees

      Maria Barnikow, IAS

      Scott Barton, DHHS / Facilities

      Michael Carr, WCP

      Ella Cinquino , JMJ

       Heather Collinson, DHHS

      Christine Coyle, DHHS

      Joanna Flanagan, RHB

      Christine Gabriele, RHB

      C. J.  Gladstone, WCP

      Susan Greenvall, DHHS

      Alyson Gwiazda, WCP

      Isabelle Hahn, DHHS

        Lynn Lindahl, WCP

      Gail McGrimley, DHHS

      Jennifer Munro, WCP

      Kelly Ott, KHR

      Karen Owen, WCP

      Dawn Perrotti, WCP

      Christina Perry, KHR

      Mary Smith, KHR

      Linda Staba, DHHS

      Karin Thelin, DHHS


      Fifteen Year Service Employees

      Bill Edwards, DHHS

      Jacqueline Garner, DHHS

      Pablo Gonzalez, Facilities

      Maryanne Harmuth, IAS

      Noel Heimer, RHB

      Marc Mastriano, Facilities

      Donna Peck, WCP

      Gregory Pfaffenbichler, RHB

         Renee Poulter, Central Office

         Richard Reynolds, WCP/ Facilities

          Jennifer Soja, JMJ

      Judith Warfel, RHB

         John Wiggins-Strada, KHR

      Lauren Woods, JMJ


      Twenty Year Service Employees


      David Bolton, RHB / Facilities

      Denise Chabot, JMJ

      Stephen Fuest, Central Office

         Cindi Gardner, JMJ

      Claire Sullivan, DHHS

      Gina Wygonik, WCP



      Twenty-Five Year Service Employees


      Marilyn Bovee, Central Office

      Flo-Ann Capiga, JMJ

      Jo-Ann Marron, Central Office

      Linnea Morettini, KHR

      Doreen Shirley , IAS




      Thirty-Five Year Service Employees

      Maureen Brown, DHHS


      Reid Gerritt, RHB – Currently On Leave




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