'Teach them where they are' - Trumbull names 2020 teacher of the year

Kelly Ginand thanks her colleagues during the 2020 Trumbull teacher convocation.

Kelly Ginand thanks her colleagues during the 2020 Trumbull teacher convocation.

Contributed / Trumbull Community Television

TRUMBULL — Kelly Ginand is living proof that not only can schoolgirl dreams come true, sometimes they can even be exceeded.

Ginand, the 2020 Trumbull teacher of the year, said she used to sit in her fourth grade class at Middlebrook Elementary School and daydream about becoming a teacher. Now, 14 years into her career, the special education teacher said it was quite humbling to be chosen from among her peers for the honor of best in the district.

“It is with an insurmountable amount of gratitude that I speak to you today,” Ginand said during the school system’s online teacher convocation Aug. 27 that officially kicked off the school year. “I am truly honored and humbled to be in this position.”

Kelly Ginand is Trumbull's 2020 teacher of the year.

Kelly Ginand is Trumbull's 2020 teacher of the year.

Contributed

Ginand said her journey to becoming Trumbull’s 2020 teacher of the year began in 1989, when she walked into Sheila Craw’s kindergarten class at Middlebrook. Their paths would cross again 17 years later when Ginand, then a rookie teacher, was assigned Craw as a teacher mentor.

“I have had the honor and privilege to learn from so many of you who are watching this morning,” she said. “Teachers often teach lessons that they may not know are being taught, and I cannot begin to express how thankful I am to have learned so much from so many of you, not only as your student, but also as your colleague.”

Ginand said it was especially gratifying to be named teacher of the year in the middle of the most challenging time in memory to be a teacher. The demands of teaching during a global pandemic are especially tough considering her students tend to need the most help and attention, she said.

“This past spring was definitely a challenge,” she said. “We were all just trying to do the best we could with phone calls, video conferences and online lessons.”

The upcoming school year is looking to be a similar challenge, but at least the teachers have had time to prepare, she said.

“I think we have a good plan, but it’s still going to be very challenging,” she said.

Under the hybrid model that Trumbull will use to begin the year, students will be in school two days per week and learn remotely three days per week. Special education students will receive in-person instruction up to four days a week. Some, though, won’t be in school at all if their parents opt for them to become full-time distance learning students.

“We’ll have to teach them where they are,” Ginand said.

After attending Middlebrook, Ginand went to Hillcrest Middle School and Trumbull High, then earned degrees in elementary education and special education from Providence College. She earned a masters in teaching from Sacred Heart and a sixth year certificate from the Graduate Institute for Holistic Studies in Bethany.

Still, the best education has been the daily interactions with students and colleagues, she said.

“You start out as a young teacher full of questions,” she said. “For the first few years, I looked to all of the more experienced teachers.”

Now, about to start her 15th year in the Trumbull schools, Ginand said she hoped to be someone the new teachers could look up to.

“I’m hoping they feel like they can come to me,” she said. “As you go on and gain experience, you learn to develop a rapport with the students and the colleagues and parents.”

If family tradition holds, Ginand may one day find herself in another, closer mentoring position. Her mother taught at Jane Ryan school for many years, and Ginand’s husband is also a teacher. Now her daughter Molly is about to start kindergarten at Jane Ryan and her son Connor is a student at the Trumbull Early Childhood Education Center.

So far, both children seem to enjoy being in a school. And their enthusiasm is contagious, Ginand said.

“Despite all that is happening, they are both so full of excitement for this new school year,” she said. “It is hard not to be excited with them.”

deng@trumbulltimes.com