2019 Distinguished Teachers Applauded at Board of Education Meeting

Greenwich Schools 2019 Distinguished Teachers: Left to right: Sean Harriman, Crystal Kitselman, Katharine Miserocchi, Megan Ostruzka, Chris Powers, and Kerrie Vale were honored at the April 25, 2019 Board of Education meeting at Riverside School. Photo: Leslie Yager

Greenwich Schools 2019 Distinguished Teachers were recognized at Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting.

Cos Cob School principal Gene Schmidt introduced all six teachers, who were selected by a 20-member committee which includes representatives form the Board of Education, PTA Council, Greenwich Education Association, Greenwich Organization of School Administrators, Kiwanis and the community at large.

“The six distinguished teachers are passionate about their work, and strive to inspire students to become life long learners, global citizens, problem solvers and innovators,” Principal Schmidt said.

Sean Harriman has been teaching in the Greenwich Schools for 19 years and is a Social Studies teacher at GHS. He guides his students into the understanding that the more they grasp content in regard to people, groups and events in social studies, the better they will be able to understand cause and effect as well as what is happening in our world today. In the words of Mr. Harriman’s nominator, a current college student: “He found a way to really make the subject matter come to life and coaxed me into participating. I felt that I was being taught by a friend and, as a result, I had the confidence to succeed.”

Crystal Kitselman has been teaching for seven years, currently as a third grade teacher at North Mianus School. She has a keen ability to connect and inspire her students. Her nominator noted that “Crystal’s ability to connect with …all of her students was amazing to witness. Every time I visited the classroom…I watched as she commanded their attention without raising her voice, spoke with calmness and kindness, treated them like the small adults that they are, with respect and understanding and always assured them by her actions that she had their backs.”

Katharine Miserocchi has been teaching for almost 23 years, most recently as a grade 3-5 ALP teacher at Parkways School. She teaches students the difference between “fixed mindset,” seeing oneself as having a limited set of abilities, versus “growth mindset,” where effort and attitude determine everything. Ms. Miserocchi has been a piano accompanist in Germany to children from war-torn towns in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, inspiring her to connect her students to global issues. In the words of one of her students, she possesses “an aura of kindness, positivity and enthusiasm.”

Megan Ostruzka has been teaching at Greenwich High school for 12 years as a Social studies and AVID teacher. She has taught at every academic level at the high school from Global Studies, to AVID, Honors Civics and AP Government, and has made a lasting impact on every one of these very diverse students. Ms. Ostruzka’s personal philosophy as a teacher has always been that if students are held to a high standard and supported in their efforts to reach that standard, they will rise to the challenge. Her nominator, a student, summed it up: “Ms Ostruzka is fully invested in my life as she is in all her students. She is aware of every student’s talents and helps them to pursue their passions.”

Chris Powers has been teaching music and band for 24 years, the last 21 years at Cos Cob School. She believes that when children feel safe and are given a structured learning environment, but also freedom, choice and voice within that structure, they can start to take ownership for their learning. As one colleague put it, “she is a master at seeing the talent inside of a student, and then inspiring them to find it for themselves.” Another said, “Chris inspires each student to be a shining star!”

Kerrie Vale has been a teacher for 9 years, the last six as a 5th grade teacher at Parkway School. One of the district instructional coaches shared that, “She doesn’t view teaching as a job, but as a moral obligation to continuously improve for her students.”

Ms. Vale motivates all learners by providing them with performance-based tasks and real-life experiences. Indicative of Ms. Vale’s passion about teaching were her words of advice for what an aspiring teacher needs: T.H.O.U.G.H.T.S. which Principal Schmidt said stands for “Trust, honesty, optimism, uniqueness, grit, heart, tenacity and self-discipline – words to live by not only for educators but for all of us,”he said.

All are invited to attend the Distinguished Teacher ceremony at Central Middle school at 4:3opm.