BRISTOL â€“ Bristol Public Schoolâ€™s Teacher of the Year is Alissa Keane, an educator who is inspired in what she does.
Keane is in her 17th year as a Bristol educator. She said she is originally from Waterbury. After finishing her undergraduate degree in psychology she applied to the University of Bridgeport Internship Masters in Education program where she was placed at Greene-Hills School. She also practiced her student teaching requirements at the school before being hired on to teach fifth grade. Over her career with Bristol Public Schools, she has taught third, fourth and fifth grade. She recently took a position as a literacy coach and is working at South Side School.
Keane credited her success as an educator in part to her colleagues at Greene-Hills School and her principal there, Scott Gaudet.
Keane was named the Bristol Public Schools Teacher of the Year for the 2021 and 2022 school year in May this year. There was a recognition ceremony in her honor held in October. She was recognized before the Board of Education in June and kicked off the Bristol Public Schoolsâ€™ convocation at the beginning of the school year.
â€śThe most important part about being an educator in general is the relationships that I put my whole heart and soul into with my students, my colleagues and my student families,â€ť said Keane. â€śI believe that the foundation of any good educator is a relationship with students. When they feel loved and cared for, they have to feel that first before they can learn anything, no matter the grade level.â€ť
She said there was nothing more heartwarming than having a former student approach her to tell them about their accomplishments. The educator also said she felt moved by getting better acquainted with student families over the course of the pandemic and getting to better understand the dynamics of how families and education work together in the era of teaching during a worldwide challenge.
â€śSomething else Iâ€™ve always been passionate about with education is supporting new teachers,â€ť said the Teacher of the Year. â€śIâ€™ve been a state mentor for new teachers for the last 10 years and last year I was a CREC resident mentor.â€ť
Keane said that Bristol Public Schools had adopted a new program to recruit minority teachers as part of a partnership with the Capitol Region Education Council and the Connecticut Department of Education. As such, she had a CREC resident in her classroom over the last year.
â€śWe believe we need to represent our population in education,â€ť she said. â€śI felt it was an awesome opportunity for me as well to have another perspective in my classroom.â€ť
Keane said she was inspired by fellow educators and when she was younger, that was what caused her to want to teach others in turn.
â€śI had educators that made me feel that I could do anything,â€ť said Keane. â€śIt had nothing to do with content. It was never about math or reading or science. It was about how they made me feel. I knew I wanted to build those relationships with kids and be that person so they know that someone believes in them and they can do anything because this person said I could.â€ť
She said that felt that applied not only to her teachers when she was younger but also coaches and other similar figures in a position to impact the lives of children.
â€śI always try to be a role model for my fellow educators,â€ť said Keane. â€śI feel like throughout my career and as Iâ€™ve gotten older and taken on student teachers and been a TEAM (Teacher Education and Mentoring) mentor for the state, even just in my own grade level team, Iâ€™ve always been part of leadership teams and I continuously want to inspire teachers to be the best that they can be for our students.â€ť
Keane said she recently finished an administrative degree from Central Connecticut State University and her next goal is to become a principal at some point.
â€śThereâ€™s importance in teacher retention and support,â€ť she said. â€śThis is a really hard job and itâ€™s not for the faint-heartedâ€¦ I think when we inspire each other to be better and keep going, I think that we know we are not alone in a very challenging career and i think that the more we support each other the better we will be.â€ť
The Teacher of the Year has also served on district equity teams among other committees. Among Keaneâ€™s various duties, BPS Superintendent Dr. Catherine Carbone lauded her work.
â€śAlissa is emblematic of the type of educator that we strive to have in all of our classrooms here in Bristol Public Schools,â€ť said Carbone. â€śAlissaâ€™s selfless commitment to her scholars through a very challenging year was a shining example of the important role that teachers play in our community and we are grateful to have her as a member of our BPS family.â€ť