When Ellen Carenza applied for a teaching job at Tyl Middle School she worried that being at the top step of the teacher pay ladder would work against her; the district might consider hiring a younger, less expensive, and less experienced teacher.
Carenza was hired.
“I hope I made it worth it,” she said as she was formally announced Montville’s 2013 Teacher of the Year Tuesday at the Board of Education meeting.
And apparently she was worth it and more as her peers nominated and voted for her as the educator of the year.
Schools superintendent Pamela W. Aubin shared Carenza’s story Tuesday, but first praised her teaching philosophy and approach.
“(Carenza) approaches teaching with passion and excitement and with her belief in the potential of young children, especially middle school aged children. She continually strives to challenge students and provide them with a solid foundation of academics as well as building a strong character within all her students. She totally gives of herself to make her students' school experience the best that it can be.”
Carenza earned a BA in English from The College of William and Mary in 1985, her teaching certification in 1986 from the University of Rhode Island, and in 1995 she received her MA in education from Connecticut College. Her teaching career began in ’86 as an English/Language Arts teacher at Parish Hill Junior/Senior High School in Regional District #11.
In 2005, she came to Montville and began teaching seventh grade English at Tyl and while at the school she has served as a TEAM mentor and has helped guide new teachers through the challenges of the first years of teaching. She is also a member of the Positive Behavior Intervention Support Committee and Aubin said “her membership on this committee has been integral to the development of a kind and compassionate school climate.”
Carenza is a loyal thespian as well; she’s served first as assistant and then as director for the school’s Drama Club and has produced what Aubin called an extremely high quality play each year with impressive sets, costumes and exemplary acting.
Board of Education Chair David C. Rowley presented Carenza with a ‘Golden Apple,’ which the district will engrave once is known how far she’ll progress in the statewide competition. She was congratulated by 2012 Teacher of the year Heather Holmes and received a proclamation from Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel.
And on hand were State Sen. Andrea Stillman and state Rep. Kevin Ryan who presented her a state resolution commending Carenza for "her spirit and energy as a teacher and her commitment to the success of both students and colleagues, which truly exemplifies what it means to be an educator."