Kerrie Payne of Milford, a Pre-K teacher in the Bethany Public School District, has been named the district's Teacher of the Year for 2014-15.
Payne, the former Kerrie Carroll, is a 1997 graduate of Foran High School who received her B.S. and M.A. degrees in Early Childhood Special Education from Southern Connecticut State University. She is married to Jerry Payne and has three children, David, Kylee and Brandon, who all attend Milford public schools.
According to Diane Krivda, assistant principal at Bethany Community School where Payne teaches, “I am pleased to support Kerrie as teacher of the year. Kerrie demonstrates conscientiousness in her preparation of lessons and the way she delivers them to her students.
“She integrates technology meaningfully into many of her lessons,” Krivda said. “As the educational landscape changes, Kerrie is keeping pace with it.
“In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Kerrie takes a leadership role in committee work and has also developed curriculum for the Pre-K program,” Krivda noted.
Writing a letter of support of her nomination, her colleagues Kathy Marlor, Amanda Royce and Kim Erickson said Payne's “dedication to the students and staff make her an exemplary educator” in both general and special education.
“When there was no pre-school curriculum available, Kerrie took the initiative to create one of her own that fosters academic and social growth for the children,” they wrote. “She provides support and training to those individuals working in her classroom.”
They also praised her willingness to help others. “Although Kerrie has her own classroom to manage, she is always willing to lend a hand in other areas of the school, such as offering to do initial testing for another case manager, instructing a reading group, or helping transition students into their classrooms.
“Kerrie is a valued member of the special education team,” they continued. “Her input provides insight and value to discussions and decisions. Her calm approach and presence always shapes our decisions for the best interest of the students.
“We believe Kerrie Payne is the embodiment of our mission statement, ‘Challenge and inspire every student to become a lifelong learner’.”
Another endorsement letter writer stated, “Preschool is one of the most important experiences for young students. Bethany Community School is fortunate to have Kerrie Payne as the 'gatekeeper' of our pre-kindergarten program.
“Kerrie creates a world of experiences for our youngest and sometimes neediest population. The transition from home to school can be a monumental adjustment for both parent and child. Not only does she educate the children, she also provides support for the parent.
“Kerrie accepts the challenges that this position brings every day with a smile on her face — she truly loves her role.”
At the statewide 2015 Connecticut Teachers of the Year ceremony in Hartford in December 2014 where all school districts awardees including Payne were honored, Stefan Pryor, CT's Commissioner of Education, noted, “On behalf of the Connecticut State Board of Education and the entire education community, please accept our deepest gratitude for making a difference in the lives of our young people.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy added, “On behalf of all the residents of Connecticut who value providing all our students a high-quality education, I congratulate you and thank you for all that you do for our students, schools, and our communities.”