Smith STEM School first grade teacher Michele Haggerty has been named the 2022 West Hartford Teacher of the Year.
By Ronni Newton
Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore announced at the June 7 Board of Education meeting that Michele Haggerty has been named the district’s 2022 Teacher of the Year.
Other than a year (1998-1999) as an early intervention intern at Wolcott Elementary School in West Hartford, Haggerty has spent her entire 22-year career at Smith STEM School where she currently teaches first grade and has also taught second and third grades.
“She’s a teacher that exemplifies it takes a village approach to education,” and is involved in many aspects of Smith community life, Moore said when he announced Haggerty as one of three finalists.
“I work hard. I try to look out for the whole child – not just the academics,” Haggerty told We-Ha.com. “Teaching them the life skills, how to be kind, to work with people, and to listen to others.”
Haggerty is originally from Wethersfield, and earned her BA in English literature and elementary education, with a concentration in theater from St. Michael’s College in Vermont in 1997. She earned her master’s in elementary education with a concentration in remedial reading and language arts from the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford in 2000.
At Smith STEM, Haggerty has been involved in many of the school’s extracurricular activities including choreographing and producing the school play, chaperoning Camp Jewell, and has served on multiple school committees.
All Teacher of the Year finalists are required to submit an essay of no more than 500 words and Haggerty’s four paragraphs spelled out the word “hope”:
- “Hearing my students, their words and actions, helps me to understand each child. …” She said she prepares differentiated lessons, and gives students a voice in the classroom. She pushes them to achieve, and provides support along the way.
- “Optimism helps me with each school year. …” She approaches each new year, and new set of expectations, with a positive attitude, and continues to embrace learning experience, including mistakes and feedback, “with the lens, ‘How can this make me a better teacher?'”
- “Partnerships with the families of my students are essential in helping us have a successful year …” Haggerty said she facilitates translations of conversations and emails for families as needed, sends out newsletters, and is proactive in communicating with families to ensure they participate in their children’s education.
- “Encouraging students, their families, and my colleagues, like that teacher did with me years ago, is the best way to keep going, even when things feel insurmountable. …” Just being there for celebrations as well as difficulties helps the school community, she said.
This was Haggerty’s first time accepting the Teacher of the Year nomination. The other two finalists for 2022 were Alanna Goldberg, a speech-language pathologist at Charter Oak International Academy and Troy Jones, a health and physical education teacher at Bristow Middle School.
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