Superintendent of Schools Dr. Elizabeth Feser last week announced Mary Ellen Minichiello has been named Teacher of the Year for the Milford Public Schools.

According to a press release, Minichiello is a 35-year veteran of the district and currently serves as the media specialist for Calf Pen Meadow Elementary School.

She joined the Milford Public School district in 1978, where she got her start as an English teacher at Jonathan Law High School, a position she held for 26 years.

“Countless students who had Mrs. Minichiello as their teacher remember her love of literature and the substantive feedback she gave on their written essays,” said Feser.

In 2004, she moved into the area of Media Specialist, a role where she used her background in technology and literature to engage learners of all ages.

Beginning in 2009, she served as the coordinator of media services and Instructional technology across the district for three years and was a catalyst for strengthening media centers in all of the schools.

This year she took on the role of media specialist at Calf Pen Meadow School.

“The changes she has put in place have been transformational,” said Calf Pen Meadow principal Amy Fedigan. “Mary Ellen wasted no time in renovating the entire media center space to make it kid friendly.”

According to Fedigan, Minichiello put together a team of volunteers to re-engineer the entire academic space. “The media center is now the most appealing and friendly place in the entire school,” Fedigan said.

Beyond the physical layout of the media center, staff nomination letters all referenced the incredible quality of program Minichiello has injected into the Calf Pen community.

She has memorized every student's reading level and interests, and makes sure she has a healthy supply of books for every child's level of expertise, Fedigan said.

“Mary Ellen is often found conferencing with students of all grades, asking them for their thoughts on a recent read and for suggestions their classmates might enjoy,”

Students comment about the great conversations they have with Mrs. Minichiello.

Minichiello serves on a wide variety of community-based organizations, including the Calf Pen Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), and the Connecticut Association of School Librarians (CASL).

According to the release, Minichiello also works evenings in the children’s department of the Stratford Public Library. She is also an adjunct instructor at Southern Connecticut State University.

One of Minichiello's colleagues said, “She keeps the door open to everyone, all day, every  day, before and after school. She is waiting, smiling, with the door open for business.”

When learning of her selection as the district's Teacher of the Year, Minichiello said. “To come to this school every day, and to work with this wonderful group of students - to talk about books - to work together on problems and coming up with solutions  -- I consider myself so lucky to be here and to do what I love.”