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Erica Christopher Named C.E.S. Teacher of the Year
Posted 06/15/2011 08:43AM
C.E.S. Names Erica Christopher Teacher of the Year

Erica Christopher, a Therapeutic Day Program (TDP) special education teacher who works with students with social and emotional disabilities at Cooperative Educational Services (C.E.S.), has been named the C.E.S. Teacher of the Year. Ms. Christopher will now be considered for the Connecticut Teacher of the Year for 2012.

Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year program emphasizes best practices in teaching. The program is not meant to identify the best teacher, but rather identify and honor those teachers that are distinguished and inspirational role models to their students, verbally and visually exemplifying the teaching profession.

“Working in special education can be very challenging, but there’s no greater reward than helping students work towards achieving individual success - academically, behaviorally and socially,” explained Ms. Christopher. “I work collaboratively with a number of different professionals to meet the unique needs of our students and it’s truly a team effort. I’m grateful to have the resources and support I need to help my students succeed.”

 Ms. Christopher has worked at C.E.S. for the past nine years. This fall, she begins her sixth year serving as a special education teacher in the Therapeutic Day Program (TDP).

“Teaching students with severe emotional/behavioral disabilities is an extremely challenging task, explained Dr. Daniel French, Director of the Therapeutic Day Program. “Most teachers in the field of education never even consider embarking on this path, and those that do understand that success must be measured differently than with a normal population of students. Academic and behavioral gains are often slow and tempered. However, Erica has been so successful with the vast majority of the students she has worked with at C.E.S.  that, even when applying an unmodified standard of success, these students have achieved well beyond anyone’s expectations.”

Beginning at C.E.S. as an instructional aide, Ms. Christopher began the process for her certification as a special education teacher after a few short weeks. The next school year, she accepted an educational instructor position in the TDP middle school while she completed her schooling.  Upon completion of her certification, she began teaching in TDP in 2006.

“I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn and grow professionally at C.E.S.,” explained Christopher. “I’m continually impressed with the patience, dedication and commitment displayed by the staff, and I’m extremely proud to be part of such an exemplary agency.”

Ms. Christopher completed Special Education Certification and received her Master’s degree in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State University.

“Erica works tirelessly to provide her students with quality educational services, explained Anthony Maida, C.E.S. Director of Special Education. “She plans each day to ensure that her students receive effective instruction that maximizes their development of academic skills and enhances their social-emotional growth.”

This is the third year C.E.S. has participated in Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year Program. As a candidate for the state Teacher of the Year, Ms. Christopher’s application will be reviewed by at least five members of a statewide selection committee. If she is selected as one of four finalists, she will be observed in the classroom by selection committee members in consideration of the honor.

“The Teacher of the Year program was designed to bring recognition to the many extraordinarily talented teachers who make up our teaching force,” stated Evan Pitkoff, Executive Director at C.E.S., “We are pleased to be a part of this program to showcase the talented teachers that we have at C.E.S.”

Ms. Christopher’s application is currently being reviewed by the state’s selection committee. Through a rigorous screening, the four finalists will be chosen in mid-September and Connecticut Interim Commissioner of Education George Coleman will announce the Connecticut Teacher of the Year during the week of October 11, 2011.

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