Jane Ryan kindergarten teacher named Trumbull teacher of the year

Michele Molloy, Trumbull's 2021 teacher of the year.

Michele Molloy, Trumbull’s 2021 teacher of the year.

Contributed photo

TRUMBULL - Michele Molloy remembers hearing fellow teachers giving speeches in years past after they had been honored as the Trumbull Public Schools’ teacher of the year.

So when she was surprised to receive the award this year, but she tried to take after them, she said.

“Every year when you sit and you listen to those teachers, it’s always my hope to emulate them in some way. But I was not ever thinking I would be singled out for it,” Molloy, 51, said.

So when Superintendent Martin Semmel called her into his office on Aug. 5, Molloy wasn’t worried, but had no idea what was about to happen.

Semmel proceeded to inform the 29-year veteran teacher that she was Trumbull’s teacher of the year.

“My initial reaction, very humbling, very shocked. Also, very honored,” Molloy said. “There’s a lot of amazing teachers in our town. So to be singled (out), though, especially during the COVID year, I really think all the teachers just did absolutely amazing things. So to be a standout in that year was fabulous.”

Molloy has taught at the Jane Ryan for the past 11 years. The kindergarten teacher said she wanted to become one because of her love of instilling learning in students, a passion she said is common among teachers.

She doesn’t know who nominated her for Jane Ryan’s teacher of the year award. But once she was named Jane Ryan’s award recipient, a selection committee at the district’s central office makes the district-wide pick.

Molloy, ever mindful of her students, said she appreciated that Semmel informed her of her honor before school started, so the award didn’t interrupt the last-minute preparations and lesson-planning for students. As a kindergarten teacher, she said some of her students have beenremoate learning for the past year and even coming into a classroom could be a bit of a shock.

It turns out she was worried over nothing, she said.

“It was surprisingly fantastic. I was really worried that the kids coming in, maybe having not so much schooling last year would have a hard time adapting. But they proved to be up to the task. So it went great,” she said.

In fact, Molloy said, her students deserved to be co-honorees for their resilience during the pandemic.

“I think honestly, they are deserving of an award as well for not only surviving the COVID teaching style, but thriving within it,” she said.