A trip into the world of holiday celebrations has propelled one local teacher to top honors.
Renee Giordano, a kindergarten teacher at Long Hill School, has received Shelton’s 2019 Weller Excellence in Teaching Award, which highlights the teaching quality and innovation exhibited by classroom instructors in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Giordano, who was recognized for this honor during the Board of Education meeting on March 27, was chosen by the Weller Foundation for her project titled Holidays Around the World — a unit in which students take “an imaginary journey around the world to explore how various cultures celebrate different holidays during the month of December.”
This project allowed students to explore educational websites, such as Discovery Education, YouTube and Pebble Go, during which the youngsters watched and interacted with brief videos about various holidays celebrated by different cultures.
“This is an opportunity for Renee to bring her passion for global society and the various cultures that are represented throughout our district,” said school Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet. “Thank you for your fine work and congratulations on this award.”
The students brainstormed and wrote facts about each tradition about why they learned. They then experimented with different games, dances and rituals celebrated by each culture. At the conclusion of the final holiday, the students created their own Holidays Around the World book.
The Weller Excellence in Teaching Award (formerly The Weller Outstanding Teacher Award) program was introduced to the Shelton public school system in 1994. Through this award, organizers hope to encourage the teaching excellence that is so vital to youth.
As recipient of this award, Giordano will be honored at the foundation’s Annual Awards Dinner to be held in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room at Fairfield University on April 23. There she will be presented with a $1,000 award and a certificate of honor.
Four other local teachers were considered during the award process:
"Kari Yacawych of Sunnyside School for her project, STEM Squad Brings a Maker Space to Light, for kindergarten through fourth grade.
"Alicia Fernandez of Perry Hill School for Plicker Magnet Quest — a self-guided and self-pace progression where students can work independently or with a partner to complete tasks that are set before them.
"Alicia Clark of Booth Hill School for Ozobot in the Snow — in which students read a winter-themed book and then participate in a design challenge to solve a problem related to in the book. Second graders read “Brave Irene” and designed and built an Ozobot-powered vehicle to help Irene transport the ball gown to the palace in a snowstorm. Third graders read “Blizzard!” and created an Ozobot-powered snowplow to dig out the neighborhood.
"Amanda Wandishion of Elizabeth Shelton School for The World & I: A Multicultural Experience for fourth graders — with the goal being to provide an opportunity for student-driven exploration and education of countries and cultures around the world while exercising both English language arts skills as well as social emotional skills.
brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com