The process includes nominations, recommendations, essays, interviews, and on-the-job observations, but after several months, three West Hartford Teacher of the Year finalists have been selected.
The finalists recognized by the administration and Board of Education Tuesday night include French teacher Sherry Bober, theater teacher Sean Harris, and 5th grade teacher Clare Taylor.
"It feels extraordinary to represent Norfeldt and the West Hartford Early Language Learning Program," said Bober, who was thrilled to be a Teacher of the Year finalist.
"Even though I'm being honored, it's all about being a team player and a good colleague," Bober said.
Bober, who began her affiliation with the West Hartford Public Schools by teaching French at Norfeldt as a volunteer, has been on staff there since 1996. She is crediting with designing the K-5 French curriculum for Norfeldt when it became a magnet school.
Harris has been Hall High School's theater teacher since 2005. "He is a passionate and reflective teacher ... He believes theater classes nurture creativity and build self-esteem," said Superintendent of Schools Karen List as she introduced Harris to the Board of Education.
"This recognition is the highlight of my career," said Harris, who added that he is "very blessed to be teaching in a district where theater is a full-time gig."
Harris, whose program at Hall has been chosen as one of the top 40 high school theater programs in North America, will take a group of students to the American High School Theatre Festival – the Fringe Festival – in Edinburgh, Scotland this August.
"It was so exciting, and it's quite an honor" said Taylor about being named a finalist for Teacher of the Year. Taylor has taught at Duffy since 1998. Like Bober, this is her second time as a finalist.
List called Taylor, a former marketing director and television producer, "a multi-tasker whose creativity makes you smile."
In addition to teaching 5th grade, Taylor is also a sailing instructor, organized three teams for the National Kid's Lit Quiz reading competition, and, using a grant from the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools, coordinated a district-wide project for all town 5th graders to using GPS.
Taylor has received numerous awards, and just learned Monday that she is a recipient of the 2012 "John McCormack Award for Teaching Excellence." She will represent Connecticut at the Salute to Education Gala in Washington, D.C., next February. Her name will also be submitted for consideration to receive the NEA/NFIE Award for Teaching Excellence.
The winner of the Teacher of the Year Award will be announced at the West Hartford Education Association banquet on May 17 at the Farmington Club.