Passionate. That’s the word fellow teachers use to describe Blaise Messinger, a fifth-grade teacher at Cromwell’s Woodside Intermediate School and Connecticut’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.
Educators, family, friends, and students gathered for a ceremony at the school today, where State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor introduced the state’s newest teacher of the year.
“We are here to celebrate a great teacher, and Connecticut’s 2013 Teacher of the Year, Blaise Messinger,” said Pryor.
Messinger, a former actor, began his teaching career in Los Angeles in 1998, after seeing the impact excellent teaching had on his son Ethan, who has autism.
“I realized what an excellent teacher can do, not just for the students, but for the families,” said Messinger. “I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to be able to make a difference in the life of a child and that child’s family.”
He’s been teaching for 14 years, eight of them in Cromwell.
Messinger believes that “good teaching is not about data, test scores, or teacher evaluation schemes, but about connecting with the students and making learning fun.”
“All children are aching to learn,” he said. “I believe that the key to unlocking the joy and wonder inherent in all students comes down to the relationship between me and that student, and the environment created in the classroom to nurture that bond.”
His students agree. Five girls who were in Messinger’s fifth-grade class last year, and who participated in his nomination for Teacher of the Year, spoke at today’s ceremony.
“He made learning fun, and made us excited to go to school every day,” said Gabi Gentile.
Julia Lemmon said he brought acting into the classroom. “He’s the teacher of every kid’s dreams,” she said. “He wasn’t just a role model for me, he was an inspiration—my favorite teacher—and I’m never going to let him go.”
Messinger wants to celebrate all that’s right in teaching today.
“Teaching is a team sport, and while I’m thrilled to be the most valuable player on the team, it’s what the team accomplishes that’s most important. I am very grateful that every day I get to do a job that I love.”
Messinger succeeds 2012 Teacher of the Year David Bosso, a social studies teacher in Berlin, whose term concludes at the end of the year.