CAS Exemplary Educator Awards

CAS 2013 Exemplary Educators (left to right): Elementary School – Alicia Sciavo; Middle School – Robert Rose; High School – Joleen Pillar

The CAS Exemplary Educator Awards recognize outstanding educators who have had a positive impact on their school and/or district. Nominees for these awards must have demonstrated excellence in education, involvement with students, staff and parents in and out of the classroom, and leadership in their profession. Joleen Pillar, library-media specialist at The Gilbert School in Winsted; Robert Rose, English teacher at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury; and Alicia Schiavo, fifth grade teacher at Washington Elementary in Waterbury have been selected from a competitive field of educators from across the state to be named the Connecticut Association of Schools’ Exemplary Educators for 2013-2014.

Joleen Pillar
Joleen Pillar is the recipient of the CAS Exemplary High School Educator Award. She is an outstanding teacher who believes that all students can learn and should love learning. She skillfully combines rigor with an enjoyment for her subject.

In his letter of recommendation, Principal Alan J. Strauss stated that “Joleen has a thirst for knowledge and intellectual insight that I have rarely seen. This in combination with a work ethic and moral code that are of the highest order make her one of the truly unique people I have had the pleasure of working with.” He states further that “…any administrator could build his entire school around her immense talent and her desire to move all students forward and empower all teachers.” As the library media specialist at The Gilbert School, Joleen has the best job in the building and enjoys a positive working relationship with every single member of the faculty and staff. No one is safe from being involved in her programs, initiatives, or lessons; not the cafeteria staff, the custodial staff, the technology staff, the paraprofessionals, or the administrative team. Best of all, every single student at Gilbert School passes through the doors of the library several times every year and Joleen is constantly visiting classrooms, co-teaching, assisting with projects and assignments, or simply available to students for daily one-to one help. Joleen is a visible and constant presence for all of her students, and she has the luxury of interacting with them all.

Cynthia J. Geiger, Social Studies Department Chair, describes Joleen as “…an outstanding educator who loves her job and profession and who is passionate to spread her enthusiasm for learning to everyone. The media center, where Joleen works, is really the ‘heart’ of the school because she has made it a place of learning, growth, and excitement. People know that when they go to the media center they can get help, support, new ideas, and encouragement.” Along similar lines, Debra Lewis, English Department Chair, writes, “The work that Jody does every day impacts so many here at our school that it is virtually impossible to pinpoint her influence.”

Joleen shared that despite her passion for technology, it is still a love of reading and the desire to infect others with that joy that brings her the greatest pleasure in her work. “Selecting and recommending books that will make the kids want to come back for more is the most important task I perform. My mantra is “readers are achievers” and I hope that my enthusiasm is infectious. I only hope that I can be a positive voice for my students and one that is loud enough to stay with them as long as they need it.”

Robert Rose
Robert Rose, English teacher at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, is the recipient of the CAS Exemplary Middle Level Educator Award. He is an outstanding educator, a tireless worker, and a strong advocate for all children. He is the kind of teacher that any parent would want for their children. According to Principal, Donna Schilke, “Rob’s myriad of contributions to Smith Middle School’s students, staff, technology, and climate are considerable and far reaching.” He has also been described as the go-to person for technology, pioneering and promoting such tools as iPads, clickers, blogs and Google Drive. Rob Rose is a gifted motivator, a mentor for struggling students, and a role model for his colleagues.

Mr. Rose, in his reflective essay, stated that…”as a middle school teacher my greatest contribution to education happens inside the walls of my classroom. I try to change my students’ perceptions of education. I want students to realize that learning is a process and, at times, they will be successful and at other times they may struggle. It is my job to show them that the struggle is just as important as the success. I try to foster a belief in my students that success is not always easy, but it is possible. The students are taught to believe in themselves and in their ability to learn because I believe in them. Ultimately, it is always my job to find a way to reach each student and incorporate their interests into my teaching.”

Robert believes that when a student leaves his classroom, it is his hope that they depart with better academic skills and a love of learning, but he would also hope that they have a desire to succeed and a strong sense of character, community, and responsibility.

John Landry, Smith Middle School Library Media Specialist, calls Rose “…the complete package. He is a consummate professional who meticulously plans his lessons and then unselfishly shares the end product of his work with colleagues.” He goes on to state that Rose would be a leader in any group because “he listens first and leads by example.”

The following quote is one of Robert’s favorites, and describes him so well: “Everything you say and do every single day may be recorded in your students’ hearts forever” –LouAnne Johnson

Alicia Schiavo
Alicia Schiavo, fifth grade teacher at Washington Elementary School in Waterbury is the recipient of the CAS Exemplary Elementary Educator Award. According to Principal Roxanne Augelli, “Alicia is one of the brightest, most articulate teachers I have ever worked with. Her experiences as a fifth grade math leader have highlighted her competencies as a teacher, leader, and advocate for students. She has an innate ability to reach students at their individual levels using assessment skills that are beyond reproach. Students in her class have developed into independent learners and thinkers.”

For the past decade Alicia has been an educator. She loves and cherishes every moment, challenge, and victory she, her students, and her school have had together. She is proud of being able to work in grades one, two, and five. As a lifelong learner she has grown professionally under the guidance of her principal, district, professional development, and students.

When she greets the smiling faces of her students, she is reminded of their challenges, struggles, successes, failures, quirks, and needs. She reviews IEP’s, 504’s, CMT’s, RTI’s, CFA’s, and personal histories formulating ways and strategies to meet each individual’s needs–she teaches the whole child. If they are sad, she consoles them. If they are proud, she celebrates with them. If they are hungry, she helps to feed them. If their family is struggling, she investigates ways to help them.

In her reflective essay Alicia stated, “As a classroom teacher, my greatest contributions and accomplishments are directly related to the success of my students. My constant self-evaluation, continued personal learning, and school and community involvement provide me with the tools needed to maximize my students’ potential. With the challenges facing today’s educators including large classes, lack of funds, the changing nature of family, and the destructive media influences, the job asked of us is overwhelming. I take this responsibility very seriously.”

Lori Kramarz, the teaching vice-principal at Washington Elementary School, describes Alicia’s positive learning environment “..where all students will be challenged to become the best student they can be. Her classroom management is extraordinary even when working with the most challenging students, and she models this knowledge to help improve others around her. With a vast knowledge of content matter and teaching experience, she creates a safe and loving learning environment.”