Norwalk, Conn. (August 2, 2018) – Tracey Elementary School Teacher Rosemary Holomakoff has been selected as Norwalk’s next Teacher of the Year. Holomakoff will represent Norwalk Public School teachers in Connecticut’s 2019 Teacher of the Year program, which celebrates excellence in public education.
A teacher in Norwalk for 34 years, Rosemary was nominated for bringing positive change to the entire school and district, beyond just her own students. As a self-contained special education teacher, Holomakoff creates an environment of trust and embraces a growth mindset that allows students to take academic risks, persevere, and practice problem-solving skills. Holomakoff has also been a leader at Tracey in developing the school’s character education program, which aims to integrate character education into all aspects of school environment.
“Rosemary Holomakoff has been changing lives left and right,” said Tracey School Principal Theresa Rangel. “With her ability to understand students and give them purpose, students in her classroom demonstrate a level of reflection and discourse that is impressive. Her passion for developing the whole child and her expertise in social emotional learning have also made her a role model and a resource for her colleagues. We’re proud to have her representing our district.”
In addition to teaching core academic subjects, her focus on teaching coping and behavioral strategies has resulted in a track record of successfully transitioning students into general education classrooms. Over the years, many students in her classroom have gone on to academic success through high school graduation, college, and beyond. She implemented a system in use throughout the district that uses colorful wooden rocket ships to help students regulate their own progress throughout the day as they work toward a weekly social reward. Other schools in the district seek her out to observe students and to offer strategies and techniques to address behavior challenges.
“It is a dream to watch how all students grow from my ideas for character development through their emotional, social and behavioral learning,” said Holomakoff. “It has been an honor to share my passion with the entire school community.”
Holomakoff’s work with Tracey’s character education program has not only enhanced the climate of the school, but significantly improving academic achievement as well. Each day, Tracey students are challenged to leave their P.R.I.N.T. on the world. Holomakoff developed the Tracey pledge of PRINT, which stands for Problem solving, Respect, Integrity, being Neighborly, and Take responsibility. This mantra guides students, staff and families in all aspects of life, both inside and out of school. This year, Tracey will seek certification as a character school from the National Schools of Character program. The Schools of Character program certifies character initiatives according to 11 Principles, providing feedback on strengths and weaknesses. The evaluation process includes expert review, site visits and detailed reports for school teams.
A Norwalk native, Holomakoff has dedicated her career to education in Norwalk. In addition to Tracey, Holomakoff has also taught at Kendall, Naramake, Rowayton Elementary schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and a minor in mathematics from Southern Connecticut State University and a master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University in teaching the emotionally disturbed.
Holomakoff’s selection follows her recognition at the second annual Norwalk Excellence in Education awards. Educators were nominated by their peers and endorsed by each School Governance Council, making them eligible to be considered for recognition as Norwalk’s Teacher of the Year.
Like Norwalk’s Excellence in Education recognition, the Connecticut Teacher of the Year initiative aims to recognize and honor teaching excellence. It does not attempt to select the “best” teacher, but looks to celebrate what is best in the profession. Nominees from each district are invited to an annual banquet held in Hartford in October, where more than 1,000 attendees gather to celebrate teaching in Connecticut. The teacher selected as the 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year then moves on to the national program.
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