When the educators of Berlin met for the annual convocation Monday morning, Superintendent David B. Erwin told the teachers this is an exciting time to be an educator in Berlin.
"There are so many things to be excited about going into this year," Erwin said. "We have been accepted into the Columbia University Teachers College to expand and work on our reading workshop and improve in our reading achievement. There are the new increased requirements for graduation at Berlin High School. We have added a new business and family consumer science teacher.
"We are also in the process of teacher and administrator evaluation. We have a great deal of work to do on that. We will have a common core of state standards. We have a new way of looking at student achievement. The state got a waiver on "No Child Left Behind" so we will be working with other school districts and every school system to see how we go forward."
The convocation began with a musical presentation from the Berlin High School chorus led by new Berlin High School music teacher Kathryn Crabb. Mayor Adam Salina, Town Manager Denise McNair, Board of Education President Gary Brochu, Teacher's Association representatives Diane Cleary and Sally Grady and Assistant Superintendent Brian Benigni all spoke to the educators.
Erwin welcomed new teachers and Dan Scavone, the new Athletic Director. Others who achieved tenure were announced and then people who reached certain milestones were honored. Six teachers met the 20-year milestone, nine made it to 25 years, one has been in the system for 35 years and Alice Mitchell, UpBeat supervisor marked 45 years in the school system.
School Teachers of the Year are: Pam Dennis - Berlin High School; Vicky Muggleston - McGee Middle School; Rosina Marquis - Griswold Elementary; Sharon Roeder - Willard Elementary and Emily St. John - Hubbard Elementary. Roeder, the district Teacher of the Year, presented a multi-media speech centered on giving students a voice.
Erwin said while he is excited about the future, there are several important issues that are in the near future.
"The possibility that we might add a full day kindergarten is a big issue," Erwin said. "We are really thinking more and more that we need to add full day kindergarten. There are 29 or 30 towns that have it with Glastonbury just adding it. It will come with a cost and we will have to present it to the Board of Education if we want to get it up and running for the 2013-2014 school year."
Erwin said the construction project at the high school has led to some frustration.
"I can say that I wish it would move a little quicker and that it has led to some frustration because it has been a year now," Erwin said. "We have an important meeting at the state level already on the books for January so it is moving in the right direction."
Erwin said that he is feeling more comfortable with each year as Superintendent.
"It's hard to believe this is my third year already here in Berlin and 19th overall as a Superintendent," Erwin said with a chuckle. "I am grateful to Berlin because it is a supportive community and the town funds the school budget at a reasonable rate. I feel lucky. Berlin is a great community and we are continually working to make the school system something the residents can be proud of."