The 2019-20 school year brought required great flexibility, creativity, and resolve from Connecticut’s public school teachers. Across the state, educators proved they were up to the challenge, including teachers at the Regional Educational Service Centers (RESCs).
The RESCs – ACES, Cooperative Educational Services (C.E.S.), CREC, EASTCONN, EdAdvance, and LEARN – collectively serve all 169 towns in the state of Connecticut. Four of the RESCs selected their own respective Teachers of the Year from their magnet schools or special education programs. Individual honorees are eligible to be considered for Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year, with will be announced at a later date.
Teachers of the Year are peer nominated and first selected as their building honoree before being named the representative for their district. The RESC Alliance is proud to announce the following educators have been named Teacher of the Year for the RESCs:
Stephanie Patrigani is the ACES Teacher of the Year. She has been a special education teacher at the ACES Mill Academy in North Haven, where she has taught since 2009.
Academy Principal Kerri Gilmore said that Patrigani creates different learning paths based on her students’ individualized needs, helping to shape the future of all pupils at the school.
“Even in the midst of some of the most challenging times, Stephanie continues to instill a sense of pride and positivity onto those around her,” Gilmore said. “Through her unique teaching style, she has been able to plant a seed of inspiration, academic growth, and success in each and every one of her students.”
Patrigani was recognized during ACES’s annual Convocation at the start of the school year, held on Monday, August 31. This year’s event was held virtually.
Donna Tomasko is C.E.S.’s Teacher of the Year and has advanced to semifinal consideration for statewide honors. For 29 years, Tomasko has been a special education teacher in C.E.S.’s Transition Learning Center.
Tomasko is an experienced classroom teacher in addition to her work in special education, which she said was a tremendous asset to developing her skillset. Terri Garrity, the TLC program administrator at C.E.S., called Tomasko “an extremely committed professional who really goes above and beyond.
“She’s usually one of the first to arrive and last to leave each day,” Garrity said. “She’s very creative and flexible, and incorporates a healthy dose of humor into everything she does.”
Spanish teacher Oscar Perez of the CREC Academy of Science and Engineering is the CREC Teacher of the Year. Perez is entering his eighth year of teaching at the school, where he is also heavily involved as an athletics coach and takes on numerous leadership roles.
CREC created a video highlighting Perez’s accomplishments as a teacher and his work with students and fellow educators. In addition to his work in the classroom, Perez connects with his students and seeks to be a positive Hispanic role model for them to follow.
“Mr. Perez teaches way more than the Spanish language,” said former student Christian Rodriguez. “In my case, he taught how to love and appreciate my own culture and to appreciate what it means to be a Hispanic person.”
LEARN recognized an unprecedented school year by naming not one Teacher of the Year, but hundreds. The RESC awarded the honor to every educator at LEARN in appreciation of their perseverance, talent, and commitment as they rose to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You inspire us, you motivate us to be better leaders and educators, and you make us proud every day,” said LEARN Associate Executive Director Ryan Donlon. “No one can do this alone or in isolation. Only united, and only together.”
The award goes to over 240 educators across six magnet schools and two special education programs. LEARN announced the Teachers of the Year during its own virtual Convocation ceremony, also held on August 31.