Teacher of the year named

Published on Tuesday, 21 June 2022 14:19
Written by Dean Wright


BRISTOL – Bristol Eastern High School’s Carolyn Kielma was recently named the Bristol Public Schools Teacher of the Year during the BPS Board of Education regular meeting for her commitment to area students and continued instructional excellence.

Around 90 teachers were nominated for the honor, said BPS Director of Teaching and Learning Carly Fortin.  

“The number of nominations we received is more than double the amount of nominations that were submitted in 2017,” she said. “I mention this because I think these numbers are a testament to the great number of Bristol teachers who exceed expectations to grow their students, support their colleagues and give back to the Bristol community.”

Fortin noted that selecting one teacher from the many who deserve the recognition was a challenge. 

“From among the many nominations, one candidate rose to the top through her application interview,” she continued.

Kielma has been a science educator for 20 years with the last 14 of those years spent teaching biology at Bristol Eastern High School. 

As part of her application, Fortin quoted Kielma speaking on the rewards of teaching by saying,” It’s the connection I make with students during and after they leave my classroom that is my greatest career reward. What keeps me coming back to this profession every year is not the content I teach but the children I get to meet and the role I play in their lives. The reward is my students’ success and happiness and living a full life.”

Fortin said that Kielma understood a teacher’s position beyond the given subject they teach to students. Kielma plays a critical role in ensuring students pursue their passions in and outside class and helps students to become self-sufficient and make meaningful contributions in society, continued Fortin.

“Mrs. Kielma has been an AVID elective teacher for two cohorts of AVID students and has been the AVID coordinator for Bristol Eastern High School for almost a decade,” said the director, ‘supporting students who are first in their family to attend college or who come from populations typically underrepresented at the collegiate level, so that these students can attain their dream of attending college or other post-secondary learning.”

In 2019, over 80% of Bristol Eastern AVID students were nonwhite, free and reduced lunch students whose parents did not graduate from college. Roughly 30% were English-language learners. Of the group, Fortin noted that 100% of them graduated on time, submitted FAFSA documents and completed four-year college entrance requirements with an average of a 3.13 GPA. Over 90% of those students also entered college in the fall after graduating and those left entered technical education programs.

Among Kielma’s other efforts, she’s also led STEM Mondays by bringing Bristol Eastern students to Mountain View School so they can lead science, technology, engineering and math activities for younger students.

“At Bristol Eastern, I have felt supported, appreciated and encouraged as an educator,” said the science teacher. 

She credited her experiences with the AVID program with forever changing her as an educator. 

“It was through that program and with the support of my Lancer family that I truly understood it was not the content that I taught but the character I was able to help my students develop,” Kielma said. “AVID helped me truly reach all of my students and their diverse needs by providing me the tools to create rich and rigorous lessons in a safe and accepting classroom.”

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Tuesday, 21 June 2022 14:19. Updated: Tuesday, 21 June 2022 14:22.