Tara Berescik, a Trumbull High School graduate and former Trumbull resident, had been named 2014 National Teacher of the Year last month by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) at their annual conference in Las Vegas.

Berescik, an agricultural educator at Tri-Valley Central School in Grahamsville, New York, attended the ACTE Conference as the Region I winner.

“The other four regional winners are all really strong,” she said. “I never expected to win the national title.”

Her colleagues and students, however, had other ideas. Kaylie Ackerly, a former student and one of eight in the past 13 years who has gone on to pursue a career as an agricultural education instructor, said, “Tara dedicates her life to her students and does whatever it takes to ensure their success. Her dedication lasts around the clock, every day, and she remains a source of inspiration and support for her students even after they have left her classroom.”

Sponsored by Cisco, the ACTE Teacher of the Year award is given to a teacher who provides outstanding career and technical education programs for youth and/or adults in their respective fields and communities.

In addition to advising her award-winning FFA chapter after hours, Berescik teaches ten preps a year, covering a variety of disciplines in which she integrates not only hands-on experience but crosswalks into math, science and English. In Floral Design and Advanced Floral Design classes, students conduct experiments on home-grown flowers and learn how to run their own floral businesses. The school floral shop, Tri Valley Blooms, has completed arrangements for more than 65 weddings. Environmental Science students collaborate with the Department of Environmental Conservation to protect the New York City Reservoir System. Those in Anatomy and Physiology study animal physiology through dissection of non-living specimens.

Berescik has even taken her classroom outside the country, arranging field trips for International Agriculture students to Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica and Scotland to learn about international agricultural practices from the science of growing coffee to genetic differences in horses. And she has created interesting learning projects to fund raise so many can afford to participate.

Now as the ACTE Teacher of the Year representative, she will be asked to attend the National Policy Seminar and assume added duties as a public speaker, a testament to the scope and impact of her contributions to career and technical education.