Teacher & Para of the Year

Teacher of the Year

It is with great honor that we announce that Emily Caravella is the Wethersfield Teacher of the Year for 2023-24 school year!  Emily Caravella is an instrumental teacher at Emerson-Williams and also teaches Choral and Chamber Orchestra at Silas Deane Middle School.    Emily is an exceptional educator who embodies all the qualities of a creative, innovative, and energetic teacher leader. 

Emily consistently demonstrates a remarkable ability to lift students up and create a positive learning environment.  She recognizes the unique potential in each and every student and goes above and beyond to modify lessons and activities to meet their individual learning needs.  By employing various teaching strategies and incorporating technology and many creative musical instruments, she ensures that every student is actively engaged and motivated to learn.  She instills a passion for music in the hearts of her students and encourages them to explore their talents and pursue their dreams.  Through hands-on experiences, collaborative learning, and regular performances, Emily creates a supportive and nurturing environment where students can develop their musical skills and grow as effective communicators, problem solvers and collaborators. 

Her colleague who nominated her shared: 

Emily Caravella is  a teacher who influences others in many ways.  She is a listening ear, a helpful colleague and will jump in to help anyone who needs assistance in our building.  Emily can often be found setting up and working the equipment for school assemblies, and each morning she reads the announcements to the school community.  Emily gives much of her own time to helping students and other teachers in the district through her work with the Festival Chorus and middle school chamber orchestra.  She also works at the state level as a coordinator for the CMEA. 

In addition to her many roles that she has held at the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA), Emily also helps support new teachers in Wethersfield as a TEAM Mentor and TEAM Reviewer.  She has mentored both new teachers and student teachers over the years.  Emily has also conducted the Festival Concert for many years, which included a creative online modified program during COVID, and this year she conducted students in grades 5-12 in the final song of the Festival Concert. 

When her colleague nominated her for the Teacher of the Year she also stated: 

Emily has helped hundreds of students to develop a deep love of playing music.  Many of her students have gone on to be a part of the middle school and high school bands.  Emily is an advocate for her students and will go out of her way to help them in any way possible.  Emily is a trusted, well loved and respected teacher.  

Emily firmly believes that it is all about the kids and she demonstrates this philosophy every day in her teaching and interactions with other teachers and parents.  She prioritizes the well-being and growth of each student, fostering an atmosphere where they feel loved, safe and valued.  Through the creation of a strong musical community in her classroom and across the school, Emily encourages students to support one another and to further develop social and emotional skills. 


Those who know Emily have witnessed firsthand the impact she has had on her students.  Their faces light up when they enter the music room, eager to participate in creative and engaging lessons.  Through dedication, enthusiasm and unwavering belief in their potential, Emily brings out the best in each student, helping them discover their musical talents and develop a lifelong love for music. 

As a 5th grade student, Emily learned through a wide range of experiences, the  impacts a teacher can have on a young student.  It was in 5th grade that a young Emily decided that she wanted to be a teacher who “elevated students”.  We are sure that Emily has honored her 5th grade music teacher who was “instrumental” in making her the amazingly enthusiastic, energetic and devoted teacher that she is.  Please join us in congratulating Emily Caravella as the Wethersfield Teacher of the Year for 2023-24! 

Paraeducator of the Year

It is with great excitement that the Central Office team is pleased to announce that Rosanna D’Onofrio is the 2023-24 Wethersfield Paraeducator of the Year!   What was clear in Rosanna’s nomination and interview was that Rosanna always puts students first and she goes above and beyond to support students.  She naturally builds strong relationships with students and staff and works tirelessly to motivate students and to help them find academic and social success.  Her empathic nature and ability to connect with students on a personal level have fostered strong relationships built on trust and respect.   For those of you who know Rosanna, know about her unwavering commitment to students’ success, her remarkable collaborative skills and how she is a true advocate for students’ educational and social emotional needs. We honor her exceptional contributions as a dedicated and flexible paraeducator.

She was nominated by a team of fourteen teachers from Silas Deane Middle School School. In their nomination they shared:

Ro demonstrates great initiative and never needs to be given direction. She anticipates students’ needs and is willing to help any student who needs her assistance. Ro doesn’t hesitate to pull up to a student who has a question or redirect students who are off-task. Students go to Ro for help as much as they go to the classroom teacher. For example, in Language Arts class, Ro willingly works with students who are not assigned to her, reviewing their writing and providing feedback, or reframing a concept so a student can understand. Likewise, if the classroom teacher is engaged with a small group and other students need help, Ro will invite them over to her table and assist a small group while she is also supporting her assigned students. Ro doesn’t just give students answers; she asks questions that prompt students to think deeper so they are able to approach a challenge head-on, persevere, and learn new skills. As a result, students gain confidence, increase their independence, and take ownership for their learning. Teaching with Ro as a paraeducator in the classroom is like having a co-teacher.

What separates Ro most from other paraeducators is the rapport she develops with students, and not just the students to whom she’s assigned. Ro has established relationships with all of the students in her classes. Even the most behaviorally challenging students seek Ro out when they need academic or emotional support. Ro effectively supports these students, redirecting them, when necessary, while always demonstrating patience, compassion, and positivity. Students know that Ro cares about them and is their strongest cheerleader and advocate. One student in particular commented this year that he loves working with Ro because he’s able to show her how to solve math problems, demonstrating his understanding by talking through problems to “teach her” as he works. The trust and understanding Ro builds with students motivates them to do their personal best and meet with success.

Rosanna is a true collaborator.  She consistently demonstrates exceptional listening skills, patiently addressing students’ concerns, and provides guidance and support where needed.   She also has open lines of communication and talks with the certified staff in the school to ensure that she can provide the necessary resources and support for students.  Students and staff alike see Rosanna as an advocate for students.  The teachers who nominated her also shared: 

Ro is truly a team player and makes a huge difference in the lives of teachers, students, and families at SDMS. She is flexible and always willing to assist teachers and students with whatever they require. Ro consistently maintains a calm demeanor and treats everyone with fairness, respect, and equity. In addition, Ro communicates student concerns to teachers, advocating for students and their varying needs. When students were working on the district writing assessment during a World Cultures class, Ro advocated for a student who needed more scaffolding during the writing process to be successful and collaborated with the classroom teacher to provide additional support to that student. She always goes above and beyond to do whatever is necessary to make students successful. Ro epitomizes what it means to be an exemplary paraeducator and more than deserves to be named Paraeducator of the Year!

Rosanna’s ability to collaborate effectively with students and teachers has been instrumental in creating a positive and inclusive learning environment.  Furthermore, her talents for modifying student work to further meet the unique needs of students is truly commendable.  Her innovative approach and adaptability in the classrooms have resulted in significant progress for the students she works with. She goes above and beyond to ensure that no student is left behind, providing individualized support and implementing creative solutions to address any obstacles that may arise.  Her unwavering commitment to our students’ well-being and educational success is truly inspiring, and her contributions have undoubtedly left a lasting impact on their lives.  Please join us in congratulating Rosanna D’Onofrio as the Wethersfield Paraeducator for the 2023-24 school year!