Teacher of the Year

2024 Torrington Public Schools
Teacher of the Year

Kyle O'Toole


Name Year
 Ashlee Hyatt 2023 
James Pepper 2022
 Christine Gamari+  2021
 Tara D'Iorio 2020
 Leanne Maguire^ 2019
 Brandy Zima 2018

Andrew Deacon^


Angelo Calabrese


Dawn Pollutro


Veronica Gelormino


Robin Ledversis


Patrick Richardson


Victor Leger


Barbara Hengstenberg


Sandra A. Mangan^


Donna Graham

Joanne Creedon 2007

Valerie Vitalo


Laraine Gnall

Wayne Splettstoeszer 2004
Eloise Farmer 2003
Mary McVerry 2002
Joan Kawecki 2001
Jeanne Marinelli-Woolley 2000
Pat Vallerand 1999
Janice Harrington 1998
Susan Pelchat* 1997
Georgeann Sabia 1996
Marion Valsecchi 1995
Betty Dowd 1994
Lisa Dahlberg 1993
Marie Gervasini 1992
Patty Pickard 1991
Suzanne Tocci 1990
Mary Scaia 1989


* CT Teacher of the Year
+  CT Teacher of the Year Finalist
^ CT Teacher of the Year Semifinalist 


Selection Process for Torrington's Teacher-of-the-Year

Annually, the Torrington Public Schools recognize teachers and paraprofessionals for their outstanding contributions to the teaching profession and for their positive impact on the students of the district, their families, and their community.  The Torrington Public Schools has many great educators (including, but not limited to, classroom teachers, special education teachers, specialists, guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists).  Through this process, we are not attempting to identify the best teacher and paraprofessional, but to honor educators who are representative of all of the exemplary educators in our district.  

Each spring, the Office of Teaching and Learning solicits nominations from the TPS community via a secure Google Form.  Nominees need to meet the following guidelines to be eligible for this esteemed honor:

- Nominees should possess a superior ability to inspire learning in all students.

- Nominees should be exceptionally skillful and dedicated to the teaching profession, working in preschool through grade 12.

- Nominees should have the respect and admiration of students, parents, colleagues, and the greater Torrington community.

- Teacher of the Year nominees must be tenured within the Torrington Public Schools.  Paraprofessional nominees should be employed by the Torrington Public Schools for at least two years.

- Nominees need to work directly with students at least 50% of the time.

Once nominations are collected, the Office of Teaching and Learning shares those nominations that qualify with the site administrators.  At that point, each site forms a committee to review the building nominees’ writing sample and select the candidate who will represent the school at the district-level.  The committee must be comprised of the following individuals in order to ensure the process is the same at each site: 

  • one building administrator, 
  • two classroom teachers, 
  • one specialist (i.e. coach, interventionists, art, music, library/media specialist, physical education), or one PPS (i.e. special education teacher, SLP, social worker) or one ML staff member, and
  • one paraprofessional, secretary, nurse, or custodian

Please note that former district Teachers of the Year or last year’s site-based TOY cannot be members of the site-based committees. 

Each site announces their site-based Teacher of the Year in mid-May.  At that time, each site-based Teacher of the Year completes the district application package which includes three essays focused on getting to know each candidate as a whole.  A district team scores each package using a common rubric.  In mid-June, each candidate is invited to participate in an interview in which the district team asks the candidate a variety of questions.  The district team scores each candidate’s responses with a common rubric.  The scores from the application package and the interview responses are compiled to formulate a total score for each candidate.  

The winning district Teacher of the Year is notified during the last week of school.  The winning district Teacher of the Year will be required to complete the state application for Connecticut Teacher of the Year and will deliver a motivational speech at the upcoming school year’s convocation.


The Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952. It is sponsored by the Connecticut State Department of Education, Division of Teaching and Learning Programs and services, and ING. The program begins with the selection of a teacher of the year in each local district and continues to the national level, where the Connecticut Teacher of the Year becomes eligible for national honors.

The National Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc. Two Connecticut teachers have been National Teachers of the Year: LeRoy Hay, an English teacher from Manchester, in 1983; and Dorothy Hamilton, a social studies teacher from Milford, in 1953. Five Connecticut teachers have been national finalists: Fie K. Budzinsky in 1996 (Portland), Shirley J. Gillis in 1981 (New London), Harold Frazier in 1964 (West Hartford), Helen Estes (Manchester) in 1963, and Marian Galbraith (Groton) in 2002.


The Teacher of the Year Program recognizes and honors teacher excellence. It does not attempt to select the "best" teacher; rather, to identify, from among many outstanding teachers of the year, one teacher to serve as a visible and vocal representative of what is best in the profession. The program celebrates excellence in teaching by recognizing teachers who have inspired a love for learning in their students and who have distinguished themselves in the profession.

Duties of the Connecticut Teacher of the Year

The Connecticut Teacher of the Year and the three finalists serve as teacher-ambassadors for public education. They are appointed to various education advisory committees and become consultants to the Commissioner of Education. They present workshops; speak at education conferences and meetings; address student, civic, college and university, and governmental groups; and operate special programs in accordance with their interests and expertise. The Connecticut Teacher of the Year also represents the state at the national level--participating in national educational forums, National State Teacher of the Year Program planning and networking sessions, and U.S. Department of Education meetings.

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