DLAMMS’ Michael Rivera Named LEARN Teacher of the Year

DLAMMS’ Michael Rivera Named LEARN Teacher of the Year
Posted on 10/11/2017
Mike Rivera, LEARN Teacher of the Year

Special education teacher Michael Rivera knows first-hand how difficult the classroom environment can be for a student. He also realizes the power of empathy and the importance of listening to middle schoolers.

“Sometimes, students just want someone to talk to, and I think they know they can trust me with a lot of things,” said Rivera, who teachers at Dual Language and Arts Magnet Middle School (DLAMMS) in Waterford.

Rivera’s colleagues and administrators know how dedicated he is and what a difference he is making in the lives of his students. In August, he was named the DLAMMS Teacher of the Year for 2017. Soon after, he was honored as Teacher of the Year for all of LEARN, the Regional Educational Service Center that runs DLAMMS and six other magnet schools.

As a result, Rivera is LEARN’s nominee for statewide Teacher of the Year and he will be honored in November with all fellow nominees from across Connecticut public school districts.

In her letter to the state supporting Rivera’s candidacy, DLAMMS Principal Christina Chamberlain called him a “superstar” with an unparalleled ability to connect with all students, whether they are enrolled in special education or not.

“If schools had MVP awards, Mike would most certainly win ours year after year,” Chamberlain said. “His impact on students, families, staff, and the community is immeasurable. He is truly worthy of this honor.”

Rivera loves working at DLAMMS and helped build the special education services at the school, working with his colleagues to create inclusive environments for all learners. He does not give up on students and goes out of his way to help them.

 “When our kids come in here, we try to elevate them as high as they can go – not just academically, but also helping them deal with life’s challenges,” Rivera said.

He is among the busiest teachers at the school. In addition to his teaching, Rivera meets regularly with colleagues, runs afterschool programs, and serves as a liaison and mentor to everyone in the building. He is heavily involved in the community as an official or organizer of several sports teams and is pursuing his Master’s degree. A father of five, Rivera taught a “Dad Boot Camp” at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in New London, teaching important skills to first-time fathers.

Chamberlain said that Rivera makes himself available to families of his students, sometimes checking in with parents multiple times a day.

“Even when he has to deliver a negative report, he does so with integrity and compassion, and strives always to develop shared strategies for moving forward,” Chamberlain said.

LEARN recognized Rivera at its Convocation held on Aug. 28. In addition to Rivera, the following educators have been honored as Teacher of the Year for their respective schools:

  • Regional Multicultural Magnet School (New London): Candy Bartsch, Grade 2/3 Teacher
  • Marine Science Magnet High School (Groton): Jill Andruskiewicz, Math Teacher
  • Riverside Magnet School (East Hartford): Jean Barresi, Kindergarten Teacher
  • Connecticut River Academy (East Hartford): Hera Butt, Social Studies Teacher
  • The Friendship School (Waterford) : Michele Knudsen, Speech Pathologist
  • Student Support Services (RESC-wide): Tim Doyle, Special Education Teacher