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Marisa Perce Named Milford’s Teacher of the Year for 2022

 Teacher of the Year Marisa Perce (center) is congratulated by Dr. Anna Cutaia (Superintendent) on the left and Calf Pen Meadow principal Jamie Whitaker, right.

For Marisa Perce, it all started with an easel, some markers, and a collection of willing family members back when she was about 10 years old.  After receiving the items for her birthday, Perce took over her parents’ home office space, transforming it into her very first classroom – and would ‘teach’ any number of passersby who were willing to stop in for a lesson: her mom, her dad, her sister, and the family dog. Thus began her trek into the world of education and her meteoric rise in the profession that led to this week’s announcement as the district’s Teacher of the Year for 2022.

Perce, a 4th grade teacher at Calf Pen Elementary, believes her work as a classroom leader is to build relationships and to create a safe, non-judgemental learning space for all.  “When positive relationships are created, students are more motivated to work and push themselves to their full potential. My students are comfortable and confident in taking risks in their learning together - amongst themselves and with me.  It is a wonderful environment,” she commented. 

A strong leader in the area of high quality instruction, Perce has supported her colleagues in this work, assisting with intentional planning and small group instruction.  She also is often found collaborating and planning with fellow staff members about academics or social-emotional learning in the classroom.

Her strengths are felt far beyond adults in the school. A recent message from a former student, now at East Shore Middle School, confirms that Perce is exactly what we want in a teacher.  “Good morning, Ms. Perce! Today is Thankful Thursday at East Shore and we are writing to a staff member we are thankful for.  I wanted to let you know that I am thankful for you and I had so many great memories in your classroom, and you’re one of my favorite teachers I ever had.”  

It doesn’t get better than that.

Marty Breen is 2022 Para-Educator of the Year

Marty Breen, this year’s Para-Educator of the Year for the Milford Public Schools, is surprised by Live Oaks Elementary teacher leader Darlene Koosa (left) and Dr. Anna Cutaia, (right).

There’s one thing Marty Breen can confidently say, based on her 19 years as a para-educator: “Working in today’s environment requires flexibility and creativity.” It’s with that attitude Breen starts every day at Live Oaks Elementary, as she supports the educational team by providing much-needed engagement and reinforcement with students at the school.  Using the individual strengths, weaknesses, and needs of each student she works with, Breen will incorporate special tasks and activities that are connected to the lesson-at-hand to improve the student’s performance and understanding.  “I think the most important part of working with children is to make sure each one knows his or her value.  Relationships are crucial – and it is important for students to know there is always someone cheering them on.”

Breen found the time spent with students during the COVID-19 pandemic to be a brand new experience – not only for her students but for herself, as well. And, she found while she was facing the same challenges as her students as they all moved to a remote-learning environment in the early days of the pandemic, she could oftentimes be their biggest cheerleader.  “The shift to remote online learning was brand-new to me – and I really had to step outside my comfort zone.  Not only did this bring me confidence – but I was able to provide a new outlook on how to continue helping students – even if we weren’t physically together. It may have been difficult, but we all came out of it stronger.”

Bridget Krauss Named 2022 Parent of the Year

Bridget Krauss, Parent of the Year for the Milford Public Schools, (left) didn’t know what was happening when she was conducting the PTA Meeting one evening last week.  Dr. Anna Cutaia surprised the group by entering the meeting, complete with a sign, flowers, and balloons to announce the news.

If you’ve been a parent in Milford for a while, it’s more than likely that you’ve crossed paths with 2022 Parent of the Year Bridget Krauss.  In a word, she’s “everywhere!”  Not only does this multi-talented woman serve as a high school mathematics teacher in Bridgeport by day, she is often seen as a whirlwind of activity after school as the mom to her children. And beyond that - she shares her talents with students of all ages, most notably in her work with the Parent Teacher Association.  

Krauss has been a participant and volunteer at countless PTA activities over the years, and has served as an active board member.  She currently is the president of the Meadowside Elementary PTA.

During the COVID pandemic, members of the PTA community needed to think about their involvement and impact according to a new set of rules, since visitors were not allowed in the buildings and the traditional family-type programs were essentially ‘shut down.’  Principal Gail Krois said while the COVID restrictions clearly impacted ‘life the way we knew it’ in our schools, Krauss made it her mission to find new ways to conduct beloved after-school and family events.  One example of this conscious shift was seen in the annual Fun Run, the school’s predominant fundraiser for PTA projects.  Instead, Krauss transitioned the event to Cooper’s Reading Challenge where families were able to donate funding to support reading. This year the PTA, in partnership with the school staff, has conducted Virtual Math Nights, Science Nights, Literacy Nights, Read Your HEART Out events, and the installation of a Little Library on the school grounds.  Additional projects included the school’s welcome signs, the World Tour, Spring picnics, 5th grade send-off and more.  She has had a hand in all of these – and more.

Meadowside’s motto is ‘a Great Place to Learn’ but Krois says Mrs. Krauss makes Meadowside ‘an Even Greater Great Place to Learn’ thanks to her positive attitude and leadership.  

The women will be formally recognized at the district’s annual End of the Year Celebration, along with all of the individual school winners in all of these categories, on Monday, May 23, 2022 at the Parsons Auditorium, beginning at 5:30 p.m. sharp.