Sporting blue hair and a wide smile, a popular science teacher has been named Connecticut's 2023 Teacher of the Year.
Carolyn Kielma, a science teacher at Bristol Eastern High School in Hartford County, was surprised by Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday, Oct. 6, with a visit to the high school, which was followed by a schoolwide assembly celebrating the recognition with fellow educators, family, and students.
Kielma, who isn't just a teacher who puts in the hours and goes home, has taught the love of science for the past 15 years including classes in biology, biotechnology and forensics, environmental science, biotechnical engineering, anatomy and physiology, and the AVID elective class.
Since earning her bachelor of science degree in biology from Susquehanna University, in Pennsylvania, and her master of science in secondary education from the University of New Haven, Kielma has found that her greatest rewards in teaching come from the successes of her students - not just in the field of science, but in life, she said.
"She embodies so many of the effective qualities that transform students’ lives," Lamont said during the surprise visit.
Kielma believes teaching is not only about the curriculum but also about helping students become better humans. She said she strives to be the type of teacher that she needed in her adolescent years - the trusted adult that students can come to when they need help, whether inside or outside the classroom.
One of her main goals is to provide an inclusive environment where all students feel they are valued, accepted, and treated with equity.
Kielma said she starts with the vision that all of her students are gifted and all of her students have special needs.
She also believes all students must feel they belong to be successful in the classroom.
When she is not working to improve her lessons, classroom culture, or racial consciousness, Kielma loves being a mother and wife who enjoys golf, volleyball, bowling, boxing, powerlifting, singing, and supporting the Buffalo Bills.
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