Teacher of the Year 2013

Tracy Stockwell!

Congratulations to Tracy Stockwell - Hamden's 2012-13 Teacher of the Year!

(In October, Tracy was named as one of 15 state semifinalists for this year's Connecticut Teacher of the Year!) She is a science teacher at Hamden High School.  

Tracy is currently in her 13th year teaching biology and marine biology at Hamden High School. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire in 1985, she began her career doing research on lake water quality throughout New Hampshire. A knack for teaching led to certification in Biology and Chemistry in her home state of New York, and eventually to a unique position as the “Zoomobile Coordinator” at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester.  In this role, she customized animal-related outreach programs for schools, camps, nursing homes and other venues; she also made guest appearances on local television and on the Today Show.  In 1991, Tracy was named Education Director for the Seneca Zoological Society, a position she held until moving to Connecticut in 1993.  In 1999, Tracy began teaching at Hamden High School, and in 2007, she received a Masters degree from Sacred HeartUniversity. As a teacher, she continues to draw upon something she learned while working at the zoo: that only by connecting with the natural world can one come to care, for care is the catalyst which makes real learning possible for learners of all ages and abilities

While at Hamden, Tracy has been instrumental in curriculum writing and lesson design for the biology department. She took a leadership role in revising the ninth grade curriculum using principles of Understanding by Design, and has also conducted professional development workshops throughout the district. Tracy helps coordinate the annual Hamden Bermuda Workshop, a popular field program that introduces high school students to the wonders and importance of marine ecology and coral reef conservation.

Tracy is a freshman team leader, as well as an active participant in ninth grade data teams and other school and district committees. In addition to teaching four sections of freshman biology each year, she has written curriculum for and taught various science electives, including Genetics, Biotechnology and Human Gene Discovery.  She is a member of several professional organizations, including the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the Connecticut Science Teachers Association (CSTA), the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), and the Southeastern New England Marine Educators (SENEME). For several of these she has presented at the local and national level, including introducing a highly engaging lesson for teaching Protein Synthesis and Genomics, called “DNA Unzipped”.  In 2010, Tracy was selected to represent Connecticut as part of the National Geographic Teacher Leadership Academy in California. Along with 60 other teachers from the United States, Tracy was involved in field testing a national curriculum related to ocean education and conservation.

Tracy believes that the whole point of school is to enrich the life of every student. She sees all of her students as possibilities as opposed to problems.  She says, “If students bring with them attitudes or behaviors which impede their learning, I know that these may be due to circumstances that I cannot control. I also know that they may be replaced with more productive behaviors that will ultimately help them outside of school.”  To that end, she continually aims to help students believe in themselves. By writing lessons that are engaging, thought-provoking and stemming from current events, she tries to instill interest, confidence and accountability in her students. Tracy makes it a priority to connect with all of her students, and to forming valuable alliances with parents. She firmly believes that positive student-teacher-parent relationships often mean the difference between success and failure.

Tracy lives in Hamden with her husband, Jeff, and their teenage sons, Alex and Brendon. A daughter, Lyndsay, attends the University of Connecticut. Tracy enjoys the outdoors, and bikes, runs, hikes, camps and kayaks whenever time allows.

The Hamden Teacher of the Year honor is an annual award. Teachers in each school nominate and select from their staff one exemplary teacher, who then "competes" among other schools' nominees in front of a district panel.  The committee then makes the final selection for our Teacher of the Year.  

The Hamden Teacher of the Year represents our district at the state-level Teacher of the Year competition.