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Three New London Teachers Make 'Connecticut Dream Team'

The teachers will participate in a Common Core "TeachFest" and then return to their districts to pass on the knowledge to their peers.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
New London has three teachers joining the "Connecticut Dream Team" — a group of 97 teachers charged with mastering an educational approach that aligns with Common Core.

Representing New London are Laury LaMarche, a second grade teacher at Jennings Elementary School; Michelle Combs, an eighth grade math teacher at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School; and Katherine Brodaski, a grade 9-12 remedial reading teacher at New London High School.

The state Department of Education on Wednesday announced the Dream Team. A full list of the 97 teachers from 86 school districts around the state can be found here.

Getting on the team was competitive. According to a news release from the Department of Education, teachers "were chosen through a competitive statewide application on the basis of their content knowledge, grit, and understanding of the Common Core State Standards. Each educator demonstrated the commitment and ability to 'scale their impact' beyond their classroom."

TeachFest Connecticut learning session

Each of the teachers on the "Connecticut Dream Team" will participate in "TeachFest Connecticut," which the news release describes as "an intensive professional learning session on the Common Core State Standards, where they will develop high-quality resources to be shared with fellow teachers."

The conference runs from April 25 to April 27 in Hartford.

The TeachFest conference will be led by LearnZillion, a "provider of digital curriculum and professional development for the Common Core" and which developed an "innovative model" for teaching aligned with Common Core standards, according to the news release.

Then the teachers spread the word

"Following TeachFest, the Connecticut Dream Team members will return to their 86 elementary, middle and high schools to continue working with peers and content coaches in facilitated online professional learning communities (PLCs)," according to the news release.

"During this process, the Dream Team members will translate their proven teaching methods and classroom expertise into high-quality Common Core resources for use by teachers in Connecticut and will be available on CTCoreStandards.org," the announcement said. "These resources will also be made available to teachers across the country, through a free Common Core resource library."

This summer, Dream Team teachers will serve as "teacher leaders" at a July 29 “Common Core Fest” for hundreds of teachers across the state, according to the announcement.

Other Common Core preparation activities

According to the news release:

"In addition to the LearnZillion experience, the State Department of Education is already sponsoring a series of professional development opportunities for educators across Connecticut: 

  • "Since the beginning of the school year, school and district leaders have taken part in “communities of practice”— gatherings which focus on implementing the new standards and sharing best practices already in place.
  • "Also, the SDE has convened over 1,500 teachers from 163 districts as Common Core Coaches to develop expertise in the new standards through a series of trainings and webinars.
  • "Common Core training opportunities are also being designed for 600 new teachers, student teachers and their mentors, as well as the faculty of teacher-preparation programs."

District, Administrators Praise New London Teachers

“Laury, Katherine and Michelle are terrific representatives of the many outstanding teachers we have in the New London Public Schools,” Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A. Fischer said.

“This is a wonderful honor for our teachers,” Chief Academic Officer Katherine Ericson said. “They not only deserve the recognition, but they will be an asset to Connecticut's team! We are very proud to have them representing our district.”

“Laury's meticulous preparation, planning, lesson delivery and reflections are representative of the process and procedures of New London Public Schools' finest teachers,” Laurelle Texidor, principal of Jennings Elementary School, said. “Regardless of stressors, her creativity and delight in teaching are transferred to her students … We look forward to results of Laury's focus on the math common core standards and the Dream Team's crucial work as a whole."

In addition to the three teachers, Maureen Ruby, supervisor of professional learning and career development; and Zato Kadambaya, math and science coordinator at New London High School, will serve as reading and math TeachFest coaches for LearnZillion. 

“Katherine is an amazingly competent and dedicated professional educator who not only has a high level of expertise in reading and assessment, but is completely committed to providing New London High School students with the finest reading education she can,” Ruby said. “She deeply believes that all of our students can learn and read at high levels. Resilient, passionate, and dedicated, there's no obstacle that will prevent Katherine from providing students with the instructional supports and guidance that will ensure their success. She truly cares about her students and they know it.”

Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School Principal Alison Ryan said today that Michelle Combs exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding teacher.

“Like many teachers, Michelle uses her own time to research new strategies, watch webinars and attend professional development. Michelle … coaches our young math department and is a member of our School Governance Council,” Ryan said. “She has committed herself to improving middle school mathematics, which really is a diamond in the rough.”


Andrea Stevenson April 17, 2014 at 10:12 AM
Kevin Stenson, a New London teacher, currently assigned to The Friendship School in Waterford also is a new member of the Ct Dream Team.....New London has even more to be proud of today! They are well represented on this team!
Andrea Stevenson April 17, 2014 at 10:13 AM
Oops, drat auto correct...Kevin STEVENSON!
Heather DeLaurentis April 18, 2014 at 09:25 PM
Great teacher, and a great dad. I had the pleasure of teaching his son and getting to know both he and his wife, they are a wonderful family and educators.

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