Hartford Schools' Announce 2013 Teacher Of The Year
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
May 24, 2013
HARTFORD —— Mario Marrero's fourth-grade students believe their teacher is the best in "the whole wide world," in the proud words of one 9-year-old.
Well, here's a start: the Betances STEM Magnet School educator has been named the city's 2013 Teacher of the Year.
"It's crazy," said Marrero, 32, after Superintendent Christina Kishimoto announced the award Thursday night during a banquet at the Hartford Marriott Downtown. "I have to hold on to the podium so I don't fall over right now."
Marrero, who lives in Avon, began his Hartford teaching career right out of college in 2006. He taught at Annie Fisher Magnet School of Multiple Intelligences for two years, then moved to Milner School, where his mother, Evelyn Marrero, was once a vice principal.
Mario Marrero spent four years at Milner, one of the school system's most difficult assignments, teaching third and fifth grades, tutoring students after school and coaching the basketball team. When Milner entered the state Commissioner's Network last summer, he left for the new Betances STEM magnet program.
Assistant Principal Tyrone Richardson said he recruited Marrero to Betances STEM. Richardson was Milner School's principal when Marrero taught there, and saw him as a role model for children.
Along with teaching and mentoring, Marrero is an active member of Connecticut Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church in South Windsor, where he sings in the choir.
"It was about changing lives" at Milner, Richardson told Thursday's audience. The school system provided video of the event. "It's one of the toughest neighborhoods to be in and we took on that challenge."
Marrero said it was hard for him to leave Milner, which is now under Jumoke Academy charter school management, but welcomed the change as a "blessing in disguise."
A recent visit to Marrero's classroom showed orderliness and discipline. City and suburban children worked quietly in small groups, then marched to the Betances cafeteria for lunch, following commands like eager cadets.
"My mother, uncles, cousins — they're all educators," Marrero said. "Teaching is not only what I love, but it's pretty much something I was born to do."
The city schools' two other finalists were Joe Battaglia, an English teacher at the alternative Opportunity High School, and David Mangus, the lead science teacher at Hartford Public High School's Academy of Engineering and Green Technology.
Hartford's selection committee included past winners who considered a variety of factors, including written essays and a videotaped lesson from each finalist earlier this month. Battaglia and Mangus were also honored Thursday.
Marrero receives $1,000 worth of gift cards and will be the district's nominee for the statewide Teacher of the Year competition.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at