BERLIN - Berlin High School English teacher Katie Amenta accepted her Berlin Teacher of the Year award without her husband in the audience.
“‘I really can’t do another red carpet affair with you,” a smiling Amenta recalled him as telling her before the Board of Education’s recent awards meeting. She had been in the running for a state Teacher of the Year award and, as coach of the Berlin High School girls soccer team, was still competing for a state championship, an effort that fell one game short.
“Not to sound humble, but honestly, I wouldn’t be able to do this or have the success if it wasn’t for tremendous colleagues, and leadership that supports me and surrounds me,” said Amenta. She also thanked the parents, whom she realized, as a coach, are highly involved with their children.
Sheryl Desroches, from Richard D. Hubbard School, was chosen as the 2018 Paraprofessional of the Year.
“If one student has performed poorly in a class, for a period of time, think about what might be going on in his or her life. The reason for his or her poor performance might not be for a lack of effort, but it might be things that are beyond his or her control, such as a tough family situation,” said Deroches. “By doing this, you will open up countless doors that will allow you to better relate to your students.”
Before presenting each award, School Superintendent David Erwin said a few words about each recipient.
“She’s a mom, she’s a daughter, she is a sister, she is a wife and she does it all,” said Erwin of Amenta, after listing the committees on which she serves and her contributions to the English Department, including writing the curriculum for the one of the college level courses.
“She has a calm, patient demeanor that makes her effective in working with all types of learners,” said Erwin of Desroches. He added that Desroches had been honored at the Statewide Paraeducators as Partners Conference and is nominated for the statewide 2018 Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year award.
The Teachers of the Year in each school were also honored.
Those awards went to Jason Miller of Griswold; Heather Sita of Hubbard Elementary School, David Sirois of Willard Elementary School and Paula Brown of McGee Middle School. Amenta had been named the Berlin High School Teacher of the Year before being named the district’s top teacher. She reached the semifinal round for Connecticut Teacher of the Year, Erwin said.
Students from the district were rewarded for demonstrating leadership in community, community service and service to others, and academic prowess relative to their ability. Each recipient will receive CAPSS diploma and a bookstore gift card. The students were:
nFifth-graders Karolina Carlone and Hiram Sepulveda from Griswold; Madelyn Carlson and Max Enes from Hubbard; and Samantha Dunn and Christian Riccitelli from Willard.
nEighth-graders Olivia Salina and Michael Vignone from McGee.
nSeniors Danielle Taglucop and Jacob Giuliano from BHS.
Support recognition awards were given out to Kari Searle of Griswold; Krystal DeMarco of Hubbard; Suzanne Mercier of Willard; Lisa Turgeon of McGee; School Resource Officer Steve Kostka of BHS; and Weny Rawlings from the Board of Education Central Office.
Friend of the Berlin Schools honors were awarded to residents nominated by each school’s administration, PTO or community, for their volunteer efforts. This year’s recipients were Deborah Kasper of Griswold; Anne Henriques of Hubbard; Katie Niemiec of Willard; Missy Ferland of McGee and Carmen Bittle for BHS.
“Congratulations to all of the recipients tonight, we’re very proud of all that you accomplished,” said Board of Education President Matthew Tencza. He also gave recognition to Erwin, who will be retiring on Jan. 2. Assistant Superintendent Brian Benigni will take over.
Before the awards, Chris Edge, the town’s economic development director, gave a presentation on ways in which he is helping Berlin businesses and students benefit each other. Work through the Junior Achievement program and internship opportunities for rising seniors over the summer help with internship experience.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @CPaullinNBH.