Caroline Turek is the 2019-20 paraeducator of the year

School officials announced that Derynoski staff member Caroline Turek, center, is this year’s paraeducator of the year. From left, superindentent of schools Timothy Connellan, Derynoski principal Jan Verderame, Turek, asst. superintendent Steven Madancy, and human resources director Michelle Passamano.



Southington Public Schools announced the 2020 Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year: Derynoski Elementary School paraeducator Caroline Turek.

Turek has been submitted to the Connecticut State Department of Education and the school paraeducator advisory council as a nominee for the 2020 Anne Marie Paraeducator of the Year for the state of Connecticut.

“Over 20 years ago, what began as volunteering in the classroom at Strong Elementary School quickly became a full time position at Derynoski Elementary School,” said Turek. “I was fortunate enough to have been mentored by exceptional teachers and principals early in my profession, and that has paved the way for a successful career path in education.”

Turek finds day-to-day inspiration in her career from her students, who have taught her the meaning of being a “life-long learner.”

“I truly look forward to every school day, and can’t wait to see the accomplishments that await these young minds,” she said. Turek recently adopted the phrase, “life-long learner,” as her own. “I find that phrase to be especially inspiring, and hope that students I interact with will also be motivated.”

Turek said the Derynoski students and her fellow staff members are among the best of the best.

“In an environment that devotes all its energy to maintaining excellence in education, it is always a pleasure and an honor to call DES my home,” she said. “The Southington Public School system is very community based. This unified direction is very evident among the students and staff in our town. We are all here for each other.”

The paraeducator of the year said a day in the life of anyone who works in education is not typical—and that’s the beauty of it.

“No day is ever the same. It is always a challenge to successfully meet the needs of your students and continue to grow as an educator,” she said. “It’s a task that I relish and I can’t imagine working in any other profession.”

Turek’s colleagues describe her in a press release as a valuable team player with all of the characteristics and skills needed to be an “outstanding paraeducator.”

“She coaches students on how to be good friends to one-another, and helps them with coping skills,” stated a press release. “Ms. Turek provides a safe and happy learning environment and is a great friend and colleague. The Southington Public Schools are proud to be represented by Caroline Turek as our 2019-20 Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year.”

Superintendent Tim Connellan said Turek is “an amazing person.”

“She touched the lives of many students over her 22 years at Derynoski,” he said. “The students and teachers love her, and she loves them right back.”

Turek’s message to others is to challenge oneself.

“There is always something, every day, to learn and discover,” said Turek. “This can be a very infectious trait and I hope my students always continue to challenge themselves. Being a life-long learner is a wonderful way to define yourself.”

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