MONROE, CT — Teresa Gucwa Heines, described by her peers as an educator who is “always learning, always teaching, always finding ways to make her students succeed,” was named Monroe public school’s 2020-21 Teacher of the Year.
“Teresa has had a lifelong impact on our youngest learners,” said Acting Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza. “Her students, their parents, and her colleagues agree that they benefit profoundly by learning from her each and every day.”
Kobza said a committee of teachers, administrators and parents selected Heines, a special education teacher in the Monroe Early Childhood Intervention Center, from among more than 280 applicants Wednesday.
Of Heines, parents said, “she thinks outside the box to try all different ways to meet a child’s needs until the one that works for the child is found, fostering independence, creativity and kindness,” according to Kobza.
“Those who nominated Teresa used the words ‘compassionate, patient, happy, kind, encouraging, respectful, humble, a great communicator, and a most loving and gentle soul’ to describe this wonderful educator,” Kobza said.
Heines earned an undergraduate degree, a Master’s degree in special education and early childhood education, and a Sixth Year degree in educational leadership at Southern Connecticut State University.
Her 35-year-career in education began when she was hired as a teacher for Bridgeport public schools. Then Heines operated her own private tutoring business from 1991-2000.
Heines joined Monroe public schools as a permanent substitute and part-time special education teacher in 2000 and soon transitioned to teach kindergarten at Fawn Hollow Elementary School, before becoming a preschool teacher at Monroe Elementary School.