Teacher of the Year: Christina McKirryher

Teacher of the Year: Christina McKirryher


Teacher of the Year 2016-2017

Can you believe it? Southington schools open next Thursday, Sept. 1 and it’s a full day.

Just a few days before that, on Monday, Aug. 29, the Southington School District will present its annual staff convocation of teachers, staff and administrators from all our schools.

Always exciting, often surprisingly delightful, the program has become a major event for our community’s educators.

A high point of the convocation will be the introduction and recognition of this year’s Southington Teacher of the Year 2016-2017, Christina McKirryher, an extraordinary first grade teacher at Plantsville Elementary School.

McKirryher and her husband of seven years, Jeff, reside in Naugatuck with their three children, Jack, Declan, and Griffin.

A teacher in Southington for the past six years, McKirryher was originally hired in November 2009 as a literacy tutor at Strong Elementary School. In August 2010, she was transferred to PES as a kindergarten teacher. A year later, Christina was assigned to teach first grade.

Superintendent Timothy Connellan said McKirryher believes “every child deserves to learn in an environment that focuses on student achievement while meeting the needs of every child.”

McKirryher earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2007 at the University of Connecticut. In 2008, she earned a master’s degree in elementary education with a cross endorsement of business education at the University of Bridgeport.

Currently, she’s working on a sixth year degree and certification in educational leadership at Central Connecticut State University.

McKirryher is a passionate advocate for teaching and learning and an inspiration to others. Apart from her first grade instruction, she serves on the School Safety and Security Committee and the Responsive Classroom Committee.

Having worked with McKirryher for two years, PES Principal Steve Bergin said, “She’s an excellent example of our great teaching in Southington. Her practice of instruction is at a rigorously high level. She goes out of her way for the school and in the community and absolutely deserves the award.”

McKirryher has proactively served as the STEPS coalition representative at PES. In that role, she organized a Taste of Plantsville night allowing families to showcase their cultures. At PES she also: created the S.T.A.R.S. program recognizing students for positive character traits; has organized field trips; held literacy nights for students in kindergarten through second grade; and had her students participate in a ‘Read Across America’ day.

Observing much of her work at PES during the past year, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Steve Madancy said, “Her leadership and commitment to the STEPS Asset Building Classrooms and Celebrations of Excellence, bringing the school community together to celebrate the achievements of students have been remarkably effective. Christina’s compassion is for the whole child.”

This year’s TOTY coordinator and vice principal at DePaolo Middle School Chris Palmieri, explained the selection process for each year’s nominee.

“A committee of teachers representing all Southington schools, elementary, middle and high school, reviews the names of those proposed in an open nominating system. Nominees are asked to complete the application form used by the State of Connecticut for uniformity of data from all districts. The local teachers’ committee reviews all candidates and makes the final selection. The application forms of each district’s TOTY are forwarded to the state for its selection of Connecticut TOTY. While we select only one, the process and the recognition is a great tribute to all of our Southington teachers who do such a phenomenal job,” Palmieri said.

Columnist Dick Fortunato welcomes comments at dick617@gmail.com.

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