P E R S O N A L I N T E R E S T
Newington Teachers' Association Welcomes...
Marina Jones, Special Education (K-4), Ruth Chaffee and John Paterson
Where do you live? Newington
Where did you go to college? University of Saint Joseph
Number of years teaching? This is my first year teaching. I student taught at John Paterson Elementary School in Newington.
Where will you be teaching next year? I will be split between two elementary schools, Ruth Chaffee and John Paterson, as a Special Education Teacher for Grades K-4.
What do you like to do when your not teaching (hobbies/interests)? I like to read, travel, and spend time with friends and family.
Who do you admire? How do they inspire you? My grandmother has always been my role model. Her kindness and desire to always help others are qualities I want to carry over into my teaching.
Your favorite teaching moment? My favorite teaching moment occurred during a unit on the life cycle of butterflies. We were raising caterpillars in the classroom and the students got to see a butterfly emerge from a cocoon. I will always remember the excitement in their eyes and their eagerness to learn in that moment and it motivates me to instill a love of learning like that in all of my students.
Your highlight of the summer? The highlight of my summer was spending weekends at the beach in Rhode Island with my family.
Alexandra Mendez, Special Education, Newington High School
Where do you live? Manchester
Where did you go to college? University of Connecticut, Undergrad and Masters
Number of years teaching? 4 Years—In class experience. 2 Years—Part-time. First Year—Full Time
Where will you be teaching this year? Special Education, Newington High School
What do you like to do when your not teaching (hobbies/interests)? When I am not teaching I enjoy painting and practicing yoga. I am a freelance artist, and a certified yoga instructor. In the summer I enjoy paddle boarding, surfing, and fishing. I also enjoy crafts (as you will see by my heavily decorated room). ☺
Who do you admire? How do they inspire you? I admire my parents. They have always instilled in me to be myself, explore my creativity, and become an independent adult. My father moved here from Cuba at a young age, and always taught me the importance of drive, dedication, and work ethic. Most importantly, my parents taught me that anything is possible. Without my parents and loving family, I would not be the person that I am today.
Your favorite teaching moment? During student teaching I tried very hard to make connections with all of my students. At the end of the year, at an annual review, I had the pleasure to meet one of my students’ parents. At this meeting they presented me with flowers and said, “It is great to meet a celebrity, you are all that my daughter talks about.” This truly came as a surprise to me, and showed me how important the work is that I do. This particular student was very shy, and I consistently tried my best to make a positive impact on her learning trajectory. I would never expect to be such an influential person to this student’s life, however, I was pleasantly surprised to know that I made a difference.
Your highlight of the summer? The highlight of my summer was spending time with my mother. As a fellow educator, I was able to spend every day at the beach with my mother, also known as my best friend.
Angela Boudreau, 3rd Grade, Anna Reynolds
Where do you live? Newington
Where did you go to college? Bachelors from CCSU, Masters from UNH
Number of years teaching? 4 years
Where will you be teaching this year? 3rd Grade at Anna Reynolds
What do you like to do when your not teaching (hobbies/interests)? I enjoy cooking, baking, hiking, and reading a good book on the beach!
Who do you admire? How do they inspire you? I admire two very important people in my life; my mother and my husband. Each of them faced challenges over the past few years, but neither of them gave up. My mother grew stronger, while my husband learned to enjoy the simple things. These two people have shown me that anything is possible and with hard work and dedication, goals can be reached and even surpassed!
Your favorite teaching moment? My favorite teaching moment occurred while I was teaching first grade at Anna Reynolds. I was busy all morning setting up for our Camp Learned A lot activity day. I knew my class would be excited to see our room set up like a campground, but I could have never guessed who this one student reacted. He walked into the room slowly, looking at all of the fine details. He then turns to me and says, “This is so exciting, my head is about to explode!” His joy and excitement not only made me giggle, but Goosebumps ran up my arms. This is exactly why I teach, to foster the love and excitement of learning.
Your highlight of the summer? During this past summer, I had the great opportunity to travel throughout New England hiking, camping, and mountain biking. I enjoyed seeing new places and going on adventures with my husband and our dog, Bella.
Joshua Ogrodowski, Career/Technical Department, NHS
Where do you live? Springfield, MA
Where did you go to college? Johnson & Wales
Number of years teaching? 3rd Year + Student Teaching + 4 years as a Teaching Assistant
Where will you be teaching this year? CTE Culinary Careers/Hospitality & Management, Baking & Pastry Arts, Hospitality & Tourism Room 408. Come visit for a quick bite on restaurant days.
What do you like to do when your not teaching (hobbies/interests)? Family time, playing percussion, house work, going out to eat / wine trails, exercising / hiking
Who do you admire? How do they inspire you? My wife Megan and my son Riley James. They inspire me to grow as a teacher and counselor.
Your favorite teaching moment? When my students are happy with their final product and they understand a technique, method, vocabulary word or concept.
Your highlight of the summer? Going to California/Hampton Beach, developing my coaching skills, spending time with the family, planning the year and walking the dog.
Amy Pestka, 6th Grade Math, Martin Kellogg
Where do you live? Currently live in Rocky Hill
Where did you go to college? University of Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawks!!)
Number of years teaching? 15 yrs
Where will you be teaching this year? Martin Kellogg
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching (hobbies/interests)? Scrapbooking, sports, outdoors activities with family and friends.
Who do you admire? How do they inspire you? Family is so important to me…many of my life lessons have been learned from them which is why I admire them. My grandfather taught me to reflect on the legacy I want to live and be known by. My grandmother taught me to love and be happy with what I have. My mother taught me that hard work is important but so is doing your best work. My father taught me to love people for who they are and not what you want them to be. My sister taught me to be strong and confident so we can climb any mountain ahead of us. My husband taught me to think and plan for the future by making good decisions now. My two boys have taught me that being a mother of boys require a lot of energy, but at the end of the day when you get your hug at night, it was worth every minute of it.
Your favorite teaching moment? Nothing beats the “a-ha” moment when a student finally understands what you have been trying to teach them, but other great moments include taking my varsity softball team to a 3rd place finish in the state tournament in my 2nd year coaching, helping my student council kids earn Master Council at the state convention for the 1st time in school history, and helping 9 seniors pass the math portion of the state standardized test to graduate from high school.
Your highlight of the summer? Driving 3000 miles from Phoenix, Arizona to relocate here. I also went to beaches on both coasts of US.
Nicole Partyka, 3rd Grade, John Paterson
Where do you live? Unionville, CT
Where did you go to college? Undergrad, UConn; Graduate, University of Hartford
Number of years teaching? 0.5 Student Teaching at Chaffee Grade 3, 0.5 LTS Anna Reynolds Grade 2, First year in my own classroom!
Where will you be teaching this year? Grade Three John Paterson
What do you like to do when your not teaching (hobbies/interests)? Boating, Camping, Scrapbooking
Who do you admire? How do they inspire you? My Cooperating Teacher. She is just amazing!—Thank you for everything Eileen!
Your favorite teaching moment?
Three way tie.
1. Watching my student teaching class preform their fairy tale play and seeing the shyest students YELL their lines.
2. The day my LTS class finished collecting toys for their toy drive for CCMC.
3. Watching one of my students I taught in class and tutored FINALLY subtract and regroup!
Your highlight of the summer? Traveling to Block Island and Lake George
Over the next few weeks, the NTA will be profiling all of its new members to the association.