Suffield Teacher of the Year Dedicated to Her Students

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Photo by Lester Smith

Erin Shea, Suffield’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, speaks to the teachers and staff assembled for this year’s Welcome Back Convocation on August 27. She emphasized how important it is to recognize the stress evoked in students by all of today’s troubling news, embedding coping skills in them along with scholastic instruction. In summary, she said “We have the best job in the world and we should appreciate that!”

“I just love my job,” beamed Erin Shea, Suffield’s Teacher of the Year. “I have great kids to work with, and caring parents and a supportive staff at Suffield High School. Besides that, I have an understanding husband, Tim, who teaches at Suffield High School.”

“We have the best job in the world and we should appreciate that!”

The young people that Erin works with are Special Education students who have social and emotional problems. Her skills-based class is a safe place where students who have depression and anxiety issues work through their problems, so that they may return to their classes. This class also works with the cooperation of the school psychologist.

The students are paced in this class by their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The model program exists in Ridgefield and Windsor. It is a flexible program and is not always perfect. Sometimes it does not go as planned, but succeeds because it is responsive to students’ needs. It is genuinely supportive and caring about each student. The program works. Overall absences have decreased and the time that students stay in classes has increased. The students learn to self-regulate their emotions so that they do not get in the way of learning.

Erin also co-teaches an English class and visits other classrooms to see how her Special Education students are doing. The UConn grad who majored in psychology, returned to the university to obtain her Masters Degree in Special Education and her teacher certification after working for the WMCA for nine years. She was hired in Suffield in 2012.

When the school day is over, Erin enjoys serving as the junior class advisor, working with the Unified Theater and helping with the gaming club. She tries to attend athletic and drama events to be supportive of the school in general. She does all this beside being a mother of two and having a family dog. She finds time to read and enjoys art and drawing.

Her classroom reflects her interest in art, and is a warm interesting place to be. Everything she does reflects her love of her job and her commitment to her students and to Sufffield High School in general. 

Congratulations, Erin!

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