Bristol educator named finalist for National Teacher of the Year award

Photo of Peter Yankowski

HARTFORD — A Bristol Eastern High School science teacher has been named one of five finalists for the 2023 National Teacher of the Year award.

Carolyn Kielma was also recently selected as the 2023 Connecticut Teacher of the Year. Gov. Ned Lamont's office announced Kielma had been selected as a finalist for the national award shortly after noon on Wednesday.

The annual award is decided by the Council of Chief State School Officers and is recognized as "the nation’s highest recognition honoring extraordinary teachers," the governor's office said. 

“I cannot wait to head to our nation’s capital and get to work to elevate this career,”  Kielma said in a written statement released by the governor's office. “I am ready to work with my teacher colleagues across all disciplines and grade levels, states and territories to reform policy and practice that continues to promote equity and inclusion, while providing opportunities for all of our scholars to be successful."

"I am ready to show the nation how valuable and vital teachers are to the health and future of our society as I inspire others to view our job as respected, desired, and prestigious," she continued.

The five finalists will be interviewed by the program's selection committee, the governor's office said. The winner will be announced in the spring. 

"Connecticut has the best public school teachers in the nation, and I am delighted to hear that our extraordinary teachers are receiving national recognition for their service,” Lamont said in a written statement. “Ms. Kielma has provided so many students in the Bristol Public Schools system with a top-level education, and I’ve heard nothing but extraordinary compliments about her from her colleagues and students, many of whom I had the honor of meeting late last year when we visited Bristol Eastern High School to surprise Ms. Kielma with the announcement that she has been selected as Connecticut Teacher of the Year."

"She has made a real impact on the lives of many young people, and I thank her for her dedication to Connecticut’s public schools," he added.

Kielma has taught in Connecticut since 2002. For the past 15 years, she has taught biology and other science classes at Bristol Eastern High School. She has a bachelor of science degree in biology from Susquehanna University and received her master of science degree in secondary education from the University of New Haven.