BRISTOL- Ever since Mike Reynolds was in 4th grade, he knew he wanted to be a school teacher.
“I went to a kindergarten to 8th grade school in Hartford. My principal was Mr. Cermola. I had gotten in trouble many times and was sent to the principal’s office. I really admired Mr. Cermola as a principal. We formed a good connection and he always explained to me ‘There’s no good and there’s no bad. There are decisions and there are consequences for those decisions.’ If you were honest with him, he was really understanding and since then I knew I wanted a teacher and do things better than how I was taught in school.”
In the summer of 2018, it was announced that Mike Reynolds, a social studies 6th grade teacher at Chippens Hill Middle School, was to be Bristol’s 2019 Teacher of the Year recipient.
“It was very humbling to hear that I received this honor,” explained Reynolds. “There are so many fantastic and great teacher that I’ve worked with over the years. Once it sunk in, I was pretty excited.”
Not only was Reynolds elated, but so were his students.
“The kids went crazy,” laughed Reynolds. “I received notes from former students saying ‘Congrats! You deserved it!’ I’ve had parents and students I’ve taught over 10 years ago reach out and congratulate me via email. All of these people throughout the community have reached out and it’s such a great honor.”
When he’s not teaching 6th graders about ancient Rome and the Middle East, Reynolds partakes in several leadership roles throughout Chippens Hill and the Bristol education community. Reynolds is the middle school social studies curriculum coordinator, 6th grade Orange Team leader, vice president for the Teachers Union for Middle Schools, and is a member of the Positive Behavior Intervention Support and the Greater Bristol Labor Council.
One of Reynolds main goals for the 2019 year is to incorporate more small group activities with his students and to create a positive environment to help motivate his students. When he first became a teacher almost 20 years ago, Reynolds realized there was a lot of work that had to be done.
“Each year I’ve changed and reflected and received feedback from students,” explained Reynolds, “I looked at their anonymous surveys and they’re all really honest. I always want to improve and think ‘What can I do to create a more positive environment with my students, peers and administrators?’ I still have a lot to do and I like to try new things and take risks. Every year is different for me.”
Reynolds encourages his students to change and adapt; Reynolds feels like it’s an important life skill to have.
“We like to mix things up in the classroom. The kids are constantly sitting in different pairs, different groups or choosing groups. I tell them that as they get older, they’re going to have different teachers, different students and different jobs. It’s important for them to learn how to work together and get along with the community,” said Reynolds.