Record setting day for Fairfield University alumna


 

Image: Kristen HolderStudents jokingly call her a "braniac." Colleagues refer to her as an educator of tomorrow. Friends say she is a tireless teacher, who loves to make physics fun, and her former professors agree she is committed to education, service, and leadership. Kristen Record, a physics teacher at Stratford's Bunnell High School was named Connecticut's 2011 Teacher of the Year during an hour-long assembly at the high school. "I'm thrilled. It's a real honor, and I wouldn't be the teacher that I am today without the support of my colleagues," said the Fairfield University graduate.

In front of a packed house, state education officials, students, teachers, and guests came together to recognize her teaching achievement. Connecticut State Education Commissioner Mark McQuinlan says Record is an educator who has raised the standard in her classroom, and who has helped to bring high-level science teaching to her school, her state and her nation.

Record is no stranger when it comes to professional accomplishments. In 2009, she earned national attention and was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science. The award included a $10,000 gift from the National Science Foundation and an expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to meet President Barack Obama.

A 1999 graduate of Fairfield, Record, earned a bachelor's degree in physics from the Jesuit institution and a master's degree in education from Harvard University. Record quickly realized that she loved being in the classroom, and after completing a summer internship at the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth decided to explore a career in teaching. She put her Fairfield experience to good use and became a physics teacher rather than pursue an opportunity as a research scientist. "I love teaching kids. No two days are ever alike. Teaching such an interesting and diverse group of students keeps me fresh everyday," says Record.

A Bridgeport resident, Record, 33, grew up in a family that respected education. Her mother is a middle school science teacher, her father teaches high school physics and her brother teaches high school science. "Teaching is in my DNA," she added. When asked what it means to be an outstanding educator, Record says there is a direct connection with a Catholic, Jesuit concept she first learned while attending Fairfield University. "Cura personalis" - care of the whole person. No matter what the lesson of the day might be, Record says we do our very best work as educators when we address the needs of the whole student and we put them first.

In her 11th year as a physics teacher, Record used an opportunity during her speech to quote a phrase made popular by Hillary Clinton, "It takes a village to raise a child." Record, who paraphrased Clinton's sentiment said, "It takes a village to raise an excellent teacher. Simply put, the honor bestowed upon me today would not have been possible were it not for my village."

Jack Beal, dean of the School of Engineering at Fairfield, says Record was an outstanding student-involved in all aspects of student life. "I would say that her two real passions during her four years here were physics and singing; she excelled at both." Record also finds time to pursue her love of music as a member of the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut. "These are her passions-physics, and singing in area choirs and ensembles. Kristen continues to be involved, and she continues to exhibit these passions to her students," he said.

Outside the classroom, Record participates in several co-curricular activities with her students. She serves as a senior class advisor and Physics Olympics team advisor, and she is a mentor at Fairfield University's Ignatian Residential College. Michaela Miller, a senior and drum major at the high school said that Record is always there for you. "Taking her class was amazing and she makes science fun," she added.

The Connecticut Teacher of the Year is selected from over 50,000 public school teachers in the state, and Record will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with the President and Secretary of Education. Winning the award allows her to automatically become a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in June 2011.

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, mgregorio1@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 15, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 80