Teacher & Paraeducator of the Year

Please join us in congratulating John Martin, Wethersfield High School English Teacher, as the 2019-20 Teacher of the Year (TOY) and Renee Soderberg, as the 2019-2020 Paraeducator of the Year (POY) for Wethersfield Public Schools!

John makes incredible connections with his students and colleagues. He has a true gift that allows him to create enduring relationships with each and every student that he interacts with both inside and outside of the classroom. John artfully incorporates student’s interests in his planning to differentiate for student learning through the lens of choice and this empowers his students to passionately read and write deeply about topics that they are interested in. His classroom is a model for personalized learning.


John embodies and models professional collaboration and learning. He often welcomes different colleagues to visit his classroom and is eager to learn about new strategies, how to use a new tech tools to transform his classroom or other tools to improve student learning. John’s classroom is always a “learning lab” and John embodies the idea of taking risks to try a new idea. John’s journalism class also publishes an on-line paper for WHS, The Eagle Eye. (Read more about Mr. Martin and the Innovators at https://www.eagleeyewhs.com/whs-innovators)


When John is not teaching in the classroom, he can be found teaching life lessons playing basketball with students, chaperoning international trips, participating on the Career Advisory Board, providing advice for other staff, or being a guest anchor on the Blue Eagle news. (If you want to meet John Martin, here is his Blue Eagle News debut https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xokkjLQi7Q&t=25s)


When nominated by one of his peers, they shared,

John takes pride in his teaching, and always looks to further his craft. John participates in the UConn (Connecticut’s) Writer’s Project outside of school hours and publishes student work to make their learning more of a real and authentic experience. My most memorable experience over my tenure at WHS was when a student of mine, who always had to work hard in school, and struggled with reading and writing, shared with me that she wanted to look into journalism or English as a major in college, and that she wanted to explore what kinds of careers she could go into with those degrees. I fully supported her interest and steered her towards some resources, but I did ask her what had changed. Her response….Mr. Martin! To sum up Mr. Martin’s impact on the students (and staff) at WHS, his classroom is the classroom full of freshman college students wanting to come visit during that first winter break.


Please congratulate Renee Soderberg as the 2019-2020 Paraeducator of the Year (POY). Renee is known to be a lifelong learner who goes above and beyond for her students each year. Renee has worked as a para for 13 years and has recently supported individual students with specialized learning needs.

A group of teachers nominated Renee and they shared,

Renee was reassigned three years ago to work one-to-one with a student. In her new role, Renee learned how to transcribe materials into Braille and utilized her exceptional organizational skills to make sure her student had the appropriate materials for each class. In addition to learning how to transcribe Braille, Renee took her role one step further and began to learn how to read Braille, so Renee could read and correct the student’s work and also to make sure that the Brailler was printing correctly. Renee successfully completed her Braille classes which has allowed her to be an even greater asset to her student. Renee has continued to play an active role on her student’s team. She educates all teachers and team members about the student’s educational and physical needs and has proactively found numerous resources to aid in her students learning. With teacher and student permission, Renee also informs her student’s classmates about her needs and abilities so that each class remains an inclusive environment for all students. In addition to preparing materials for her student, Renee frequently communicates with the student’s six service providers and is able to follow quite an overwhelming schedule with ease. Every staff member who works with Renee echoes the same admiration and appreciation for her work.


Renee is a kind and dedicated educator and she has the innate ability to develop strong relationships with students. She is a strong advocate for her students and embodies a “can do attitude”. She is know for never giving up and actively thinking of ways to support her students outside of the school day. Renee is a problem solver, she challenges students, and encourages them to grow both academically, socially and emotionally. She is a team player, who everyone wants on their team! Renee has a giving heart, as demonstrated by her desire to spearhead the collection of shoes for families in Haiti.


Please join us in congratulating John Martin and Renee Soderberg!