Dr. Tracy Saperstein, a teacher and magnet development specialist at Kinsella Magnet School for Performing Arts in Hartford, won the Region 1 Teacher of the Year Award through Magnet Schools of America (MSA) and the Connecticut Association of Interdistrict Magnet Schools.
The award recognizes outstanding, dedicated fulltime teachers who exemplify excellence in academic achievement through innovative programs that promote equality and diversity for students in magnet schools.
As a magnet development specialist, Saperstein fills many roles. In addition to working as an educator, she assists with school recruitment and curriculum development, and serves on several boards that plan student activities, such as the school’s annual read-a-thon. She is also, in her words, “the customer-service person for the building,” working with parents and students to make sure that kids are on a successful and appropriate academic track.
Saperstein was nominated by seventh and eighth grade Kinsella teacher Christine Tocionis, and her recommendation was written by Eduardo V. Genao, director of Hartford’s magnet schools. She was then selected from a pool of applicants for both the Principal of the Year and the Teacher of the Year awards by a panel of judges representing Region 1 (New England).
Saperstein received a gift card and was automatically entered into the competition for MSA’s National Teacher of the Year Award, which will be presented on May 15 in Indianapolis.
Saperstein came to Kinsella in 2003, when it was considered the worst-performing school in the region. “With commitment from the principal, the staff, and the parents, and the genuine belief we all have in every student, it’s amazing how a school can turn around,” she says. “It’s an honor to be nominated. This award could have been given to any other teacher at Kinsella. It represents the entire school and our region.”
Saperstein, 45, is a native of Peabody, Mass. and now lives in Simsbury with her husband and their three children. A 12-year veteran of the Hartford Public Schools, she spent the prior eight years at the Greater Hartford Jewish Community Center (now the Mandell JCC) as director for school-age programming and assistant director of the summer-camp program.
Saperstein knew that she would become a teacher after taking a class on early childhood in high school. She went on to earn an undergraduate degree in the major at Leslie College in Cambridge, Mass., and later completed a Masters degree in the field at Central Connecticut State University and a PhD in teacher leadership from Walden University.
Aside from her work at the JCC in West Hartford, “I have always been and always will be very involved in the Jewish community,” she says. Through middle school and high school, Saperstein says she was very active in the Kadima and United Synagogue Youth (USY) groups at Temple Ner Tamid in Peabody. As a college undergraduate, she served as adviser for the Brockton, Mass. USY. In Connecticut, she was Kadima regional field worker for USY HaNefesh Region and then USY advisor for Temple Beth Hillel in Bloomfield.
The Sapersteins are members of Congregation Tikvoh Chodoshoh in Bloomfield, where Tracy is a board member and a teacher in the religious school for pre-K through 3rd grade.
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