Ridgefield schools name teacher of the year

At a surprise breakfast held during Teacher Appreciation Week on Monday, Ridgefield Public School officials announced that East Ridge Middle School band teacher Hilary Brown was selected as the district’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.

“Hilary Brown is an enthusiastic, dedicated educator who frequently goes above and beyond for her students,” East Ridge faculty wrote in support of Brown’s honor.

“As a band teacher she has faced unprecedented challenges due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and has had to adapt, rethink and reinvent her teaching approach. She has worked tirelessly to meet the needs of all of her students while strictly adhering to newly-established health and safety protocols for wind instruments and maintaining a well-organized, reflective and engaging classroom environment.”

Faculty members wrote about how Brown spent countless hours at home sewing homemade masks for her students so they could play their instruments safely while instrumental PPE was on back order. They also discussed her implementation of a new “bucket drumming” curriculum that was a huge hit with students, and described her as thoughtful, creative, inspiring and hardworking.

“This extraordinary educator is always on the lookout to encourage, support and inspire her students,” they added.

During her short, impromptu remarks, Brown said that it was the district’s caring treatment of her son when he was in elementary school that drew her to teaching. She has worked at RPS since 2008.

Ridgefield schools teachers of the year

Margaret Meriwether, health teacher, Ridgefield High School

Andrew Clavi, music teacher, Scotts Ridge Middle School

Valerie Nezvesky, kindergarten teacher, Barlow Mountain Elementary School

Laurie Bellagamba, third-grade teacher, Branchville Elementary School

Deanna Schappert, first-grade teacher, Farmingville Elementary School

Sally Murray, special education teacher, Ridgebury Elementary School

James Tornatore, music teacher, Scotland Elementary School

Michele Flynn, fourth-grade teacher, Veterans Park Elementary School