Charter Oak International Academy Pre-K teacher Emily McMurray has been named the 2023 West Hartford Teacher of the Year.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford’s Teacher of the Year was announced Friday afternoon, during a Google Meet session led by Thomas Ledvorowski and Michele Hadlock, chairpersons of the Teacher of the Year Committee.
The winner – chosen through a rigorous process that began with a nomination, submission of a resume and an essay, recommendation letters, and having a lesson videotaped, and formal interviews by the Teacher of the Year Committee – is Charter Oak International Academy Pre-K teacher Emily McMurray.
McMurray has been teaching Pre-K at Charter Oak International Academy since the new building opened in 2016. Before that, she taught either kindergarten or first grade at West Hartford’s Norfeldt, Whiting Lane, and Wolcott elementary schools.
“I’m deeply invested in my students and families, the school, and the community,” said McMurray at a reception for the three finalists held on May 2, humbly stating that she really didn’t know why she had been nominated, but adding that it is an honor and she was excited to have the recognition for Pre-K.
Superintendent Paul Vicinus, in announcing McMurray’s nomination to the Board of Education that evening, shared plenty of reasons about why she has been recognized.
The Charter Oak leadership team says that “the relationship that Emily forms with students and families is simply unparalleled,” Vicinus said. “They describe her classroom as magical and say that her greatest strength is the personalization of instruction.”
She creates a culturally responsive environment that is reflected in her physical classroom, incorporates the Charter Oak theme of “global citizenship and the district focus on social justice into Pre-K,” Vicinus said, and her instruction is focused on the student voice – an approach she has shared at the state and national level.
“Emily is described as the perfect pick for students and families as they begin their educational careers,” Vicinus said, known for her collaboration and teamwork. She asks students how they can make a difference, he said, and “without question she has made a difference in our district, the school community, and the lives of the children she inspires every day.”
“We all work really, really hard. I appreciate the opportunity and it’s great to get Pre-K noticed and recognized. Teaching West Hartford’s youngest learners is an honor,” McMurray said.
A West Hartford resident, she has a master’s from the University of Saint Joseph and a bachelor’s in early childhood development from East Tennessee State University.
The other two finalists this year were Eric Feeney, a third grade teacher at Wolcott Elementary School and Dylan Geisler, a physical education teacher at Smith STEM School.
Smith STEM first grade teacher Michele Haggerty was the 2022 Teacher of the Year.
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