BOE commentary: Board recognizes students, volunteers and staff

BOE commentary: Board recognizes students, volunteers and staff

At the Nov. 25 Board of Education meeting, the BOE was pleased to have the opportunity to recognize a number of members of the school community for their leadership and service to the school district.

The board began the evening by thanking outgoing board member Jake Fisher for his three years of service.

Later in the meeting, Tencza and Jaymee Miller were congratulated on being re-elected for another three-year term.

Also, Tenza and Kari Sassu were thanked for serving three years as the Board of Education president and secretary. Both Matt and Kari decided not to seek nomination for president or secretary based on a strong belief in term limits.

Congratulations to Richard Aroian, who was elected as the new president of the board, and to Julia Mott Dennis who was elected secretary. 

The administration and staff elected 10 students to receive the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents Superintendent/Student Award Recognition Program, “Certificate of Excellence” award. Students are selected for this prestigious annual award based upon criteria such as demonstrated leadership to the school community, community service and service to others, and academic prowess relative to ability.

The CAPSS awards this year go to fifth graders Michelle Liu and Owen Holland from Griswold School; Monika Burbula and Landon Sassu-Martin from Hubbard School; Julia Solek and Joshua Ahlquist from Willard School; eighth graders Alliana Wicik and Elijah Burgos from McGee Middle School; and seniors Monica Padykula and Adam Kajzer from Berlin High School.

The board also recognized the Building Teachers of the Year and the District Teacher of the Year. The Building Teachers of the Year are: Erica Tardiff, fourth grade teacher at Griswold School; Shelby Ryan, music educator at Hubbard School; Barbara Theriault, fourth grade teacher at Willard School; Abby Rogers, Spanish teacher at McGee Middle School; and Adam Leonard, science teacher at Berlin High School.

Leonard went on to become the Berlin School District’s Teacher of the Year.  

Adam is a passionate, reflective educator. In the science department, he has been a leader in the transition to Next Generation Science Standards, participating in NGSX Level I and Level II training with the CT Science Center. He has designed multiple new courses at Berlin High School to ensure a breadth of offerings to meet core science requirements and to capture student interest.

Busting Myths in Science and Catastrophic Events in Science are examples of courses he conceptualized. The courses that Adam has designed are indicative of his values as an educator. Adam wants students to work collaboratively, to ask their own questions, and to experience the wonder and excitement of science learning.

Adam often highlights his students at work on Twitter, using photos and videos of his students in action, showing that his students are highly engaged and challenged to perform at high levels every day. We are so pleased to recognize this accomplished educator!

Donna Van Dam, from Willard School, was chosen as the Paraprofessional of the Year. Donna has been a paraprofessional in Berlin for the past 14 years. Her endless dedication to her students makes an impact each and every day.

Donna makes every student feel accepted and special. She has a wonderful rapport with all students and works hard to guide and instruct them. She is kind, passionate and empathetic. She makes sure all students know that they can be successful and are important. She goes out of her way each day to make sure all of her students are succeeding and feel accomplished.

Donna was honored for her dedication and excellence at the Statewide Paraeducators as Partners Conference and was nominated for the Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year award.   

A number of district support staff members were selected to be recognized for their outstanding performance and dedication to the students, staff, and parents of Berlin Public Schools. This year’s recipients are Jodie Konowski, Griswold School; Ruth Bilinsky, Hubbard School; Lynn Cantafi, Willard School; Tyler Savage, McGee Middle School; Nancy Kennure, Berlin High School; and Amy Brace for the Board of Education Central Office.  

The “Friend of Berlin Schools” awards are awarded annually to those volunteers nominated by each school’s administration, PTO or community and selected by the Board of Education for their outstanding contributions as a volunteer who has devoted time and energy to helping the children and schools of the Berlin Public Schools. This year’s recipients are Imelda Mongillo, Griswold School; Danielle Morisse-Corsetti, Hubbard School; Maria Carminati, Willard School; Beverly Manzi, McGee Middle School; and Sheel Patel for Berlin High School.   

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