Jun. 15—STAFFORD — The teacher and paraeducator of the year were honored at Monday's Board of Education meeting after what Director of Curriculum and Instruction Steven Autieri described as a "rigorous" selection process.
Lisa Lobik, who serves as the district literacy leader, received the teacher of the year award after two colleagues submitted nomination letters. Autieri introduced Lobik, who has served in the district for 23 years, as a "rock of support" for him and a "beacon of energy, positivity, and excitement."
SCHOOL STAFF RECOGNIZED
TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Lisa Lobik, district literacy leader.
PARAEDUCATOR OF THE YEAR: Jamie Furness, paraeducator at Stafford Elementary School.
Lobik, who has a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Westfield State University and a master's degree in education administration, said she takes on a coaching role to support teachers in achieving and growing as educators and stay current on new trends in education.
"Education has become a little complicated, and we can provide that support so they have what they need to provide what kids need today," she said.
As a literacy specialist, Lobik helps teachers instruct students in reading. She also works directly with students, spending most of her time in the classroom, she said.
"I just find that the science behind reading to be fascinating," she said. "It's such a fine-tuned machine to get all the pieces working together."
Lobik described Stafford as "a community that cares about their kids and makes you feel welcome every day you come into school."
Jamie Furness, who was recognized Monday as paraeducator of the year, said she started volunteering with the school system around 2014 before being hired as a substitute teacher and eventually rising to her current position, which often involves working one-on-one with students who need extra assistance academically or behaviorally.
Autieri described paraeducators as "the Swiss Army knife of public school systems," and he said Furness, who is assigned to Stafford Elementary School, "works tirelessly to support the instructional planning side-by-side with the classroom teachers she works with each and every day."
He added that she is an "all around amazing" employee who goes above and beyond with her students, the staff, and even families as she partakes in the PTO.
Furness said she began volunteering in the school system when her son was in preschool. Prior to his birth, she applied her history degree from Eastern Connecticut State University by working in museums, which she described as a different form of educating the public. She is treasurer of the Stafford PTO and runs the elementary school's spirit store, where students can exchange tickets awarded for good behavior for trinkets.
Furness said she enjoys working with students, adding, "I feel like I get along with a lot of them and they're always willing to come to me if they need help, have a question, or just need to talk."
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