Teacher of the Year: ‘small successes’ are a big deal

Special education teacher Nicole Carrasquillo is Berlin High School’s 2022-23 Teacher of the Year. 

Carrasquillo has been an educator for 18 years, five of them in Berlin. “My favorite part about being a special education teacher is seeing the small successes mount into something great over time,” the Teacher of the Year stated.

“I get to work with my students for the full four years in the high school,” Carrasquillo added, “so I get to see them come in as freshmen and then see all those small successes when they graduate.”

In addition to her teaching duties, Carrasquillo also runs the RISE Program at the school – Realizing Individualized Student Excellence. RISE teaches special education students life skills they'll need out in the real world.

The RISE shop at BHS sells handmade items throughout the year, and the money raised goes to scholarships.

“Nicole is a remarkable teacher who works tirelessly to provide opportunities for all of her students,” Berlin High School Principal Katie Amenta said. “She cultivates inclusiveness in every aspect of her program and has created a strong community amongst her students and staff.”

Carrasquillo began her teaching career at Tyrell Middle School in Wolcott, where she was a special education teacher for eighth graders.

Carrasquillo also has taught at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford and at Oak Hill School in New Britain.

It was just by chance that Carrasquillo landed in Berlin. Her first job in town was at McGee Middle School.

Carrasquillo said she started an application on the public education jobs website CTREAP, but never finished the essay portion. So when she received a call from the Berlin Board of Education asking if she was still interested in the position, she was quite confused.

“I didn’t realize that the employer can see your information before you can click submit,” Carrasquillo said. “I ended up here in Berlin by mistake.”

Carrasquillo went in for the interview, did a teaching demonstration, and was hired. “I keep waiting for that phone call asking me where my essay is,” the Teacher of the Year said.



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