Stamford educator semifinalist for statewide teacher’s award

September 18, 2018

STAMFORD — The city’s “Teacher of the Year” has been named a semifinalist for a statewide competition.

Cloonan Middle School seventh grade social studies teacher Camille Spaulding, whose love of teaching brought her out of retirement and back into the classroom, is one of 15 semifinalists across the state who are up for the Connecticut Teacher of the Year award.

Spaulding, 60, has worked in education over 30 years in both public and private schools in Connecticut and Virginia. A native of Washington D.C., Spaulding became the first in her family to go to college at the urging of her own high school teacher. Over the course of three decades, she’s worked as an art teacher, reading specialist, elementary school teacher and assistant head of middle school at Greenwich Academy where she was recruited after visiting the school as a parent for her own children.

She spent six years as the education director for REACH Prep, a nonprofit dedicated to readying students for prep schools before retiring and returning to Cloonan where she’s been for the past three years.

“She has to be a great teacher to be considered for this honor,” Board of Education chair David Mannis said of Spaulding. “But she is also a very inspiring speaker. You can tell the drive to do something really good is within her. She is already doing Stamford proud and will continue to do so.”

Spaulding is also one of four semifinalists from Fairfield County and the second Stamford teacher in a row to make it to this stage of the competition. Vincent Urbanowski, a math teacher at the Academy of Information of Technology and Engineering, was a semifinalist in the 2018 statewide competition after being named the 2017-2018 Stamford Teacher of the Year.

“It makes us feel real good,” Mannis said of the second statewide semifinalist from Stamford. “It says something really good about our teachers. There are a lot of teachers in Stamford and elsewhere who work really hard and do good.”

In May, Spaulding told the Advocate her only classroom rule is mutual respect.

“Everything is about data and test scores,” she said. “The reality is that children show growth everyday in little, tiny ways. For me, even if it’s being able to take feedback that they can’t take at the beginning of the year...to see them learn to trust you, that you can open the curriculum to them and be able to help them access content. Their social and emotional well-being is first.”

Spaulding will be moving onto the second round of the three-stage selection process, where she will be interviewed this week in Hartford and make a three-to-five minute presentation on an assigned topic.

From there, finalists are selected to participate in a classroom observation in front of a committee who will then interview parents, teachers, support staff, student, administrators and Board members about the candidate.

“It is an honor to be included as a semi-finalist for the Connecticut Teacher of the Year process and to represent all of the SPS teachers who work each day to provide a quality education for our students,” Spauling said in a statement. “I am proud to be a member of the Stamford Public Schools and to represent our district at the state level.”

erin.kayata@stamfordadvocate.com; (203) 964-2265; @erin_kayata

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