When I earlier this week, my initial plan was to collect nominations and have a runoff in a poll. There wasn't quite the avalanche of recognition I hoped for, though. This in itself might underscore an argument that is often made about teachers: too often the work they do goes unappreciated.
And recognizing the best teachers in the area isn't quite like putting out a call for the best wait staff (guess what's coming up in next week's poll?). I'd venture that most readers here are adults, long since out of school, and that it would be difficult and perhaps a little unfair to vote for a small pool of people who would, more likely than not, be strangers.
With that in mind, this weekend I thought it would be more fitting to make note of those teachers who did receive recognition and what you had to say about them.
Elizabeth Bumgardner: Nominated by her son, Aundre, who says, "A fantastic dual language kindergarten teacher that has worked in the systems for 10 years and has inspired students of all backgrounds to break down barriers, be change makers, and be critical thinkers. I'm also proud to call her my mother."
Damaris Zimbelman: A mathematics teacher at the , nominated by Martin Glavan. "She taught my son as a freshman and sophomore and I have never seen a teacher show as much enthusiasm for what she does than her," says Glavan. "She truly enjoys math and watching her students learn. I wish I had had a teacher such as her when I went to school. One more thing: this wasn't as easy a choice as I've made it seem. I could list a few other teachers as well. New London schools deserve more credit for their staff considering the conditions they must endure."
Marita Feriola: A teacher nominated by Jamie Irwin Stavropoulos. "She has been teaching for 34 years and is as dedicated now as she was at the beginning," says Stavropoulos. "She has turned countless students onto science with her mad scientist enthusiasm. She shows concern for all her students and brings out the best in all."
Lissa Tucchio: An AVID teacher at recognized by Chris Soto.
Heather DeLaurentis: Gina Fafard director of the , nominated this science instructor who has been involved with collaborations with the community, Coast Guard, and other organizations. "She runs an Early Birds program...which is a before-school exercise program, and she does much more," says Fafard. "She is a dynamic instructor and has motivated many of our students to want to pursue careers in science."
Sharon Ann Balentine: Nominated by user Debbie, Balentine taught for 34 years in the and . Balentine . "For those who were fortunate to have Mrs. Balentine at Nathan Hale School (grades 2-4) during her lengthy teaching career will remember her as one of those rare teachers with a sincere compassion with a tremenous joy to teach others who inspired many students, parents, teachers, and community alike," says Debbie. "A priceless jewel to many, in or outside the classroom, and in or outside New London, Connecticut."