Connecticuts hard-working teachers got a well-deserved
break on June 4 and 5 as the Mohegan Tribe and Mohegan Sun hosted
a reception and learning experience for the Connecticut Teacher
of the Year Council at various locations on the Mohegan reservation.
Quinn with Tribal Council, Elders, and Chief Malerba 'Many
The Teacher of the Year Council picked fourteen educators from
across Connecticut to be honored as finalists, and ultimately selected
Cara Quinn as 2015 Connecticut Teacher of the Year. All of the finalists
were all in attendance at the Uncas Ballroom on the night of June
4 for a reception hosted by Beth Regan Morning Deer
of the Council of Elders, a retired educator herself. Regan was
happy to note to the attendees that the Tribe has a long tradition
of cooperation and outreach to the educational community. In addition
to Regan, Dr. Lynn Malerba, Chief Many Hearts, was there to welcome
everyone with a Mohegan blessing and to speak of the value of educators
Members of the Tribes Cultural department also made a
contribution with baskets and hand-crafted cedar gift boxes filled
with wampum. Chuck Bunnell, Chief of Staff for External and Governmental
Affairs, and his assistant Terry Morton served as liaison between
the Tribe and the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Council.
Quinn, an elementary school teacher at the Sunset Ridge School
in East Hartford, was greeted with a standing ovation as she stepped
to the podium to accept her honor. She spoke of the rich,
deep connection that she seeks out with the children in her
classroom, and of her belief in the power of supportive relationships
in the school environment. Summing it up, Quinn said teaching
is a work of heart, and her moving speech left some of those
attending in tears.
Other officials attending the reception included Dr. Dianna
Wentzell, Commissioner of Connecticuts Department of Education
and Dr. David Basso, President of the Connecticut Teacher of the
Year Council. Basso was named Connecticut Teacher of the Year in
2012, and also worked as a student teacher with Regan during the
start of his educational career.
On the morning following the reception, the group attended a
cultural and educational outreach event with Tribal representatives
at the Tantaquidgeon Museum and the Mohegan Church. Before they
bid their farewells to Mohegan territory, the group gathered in
the annex o the Mohegan Church for a custom-made Native American
luncheon from Mohegan Sun's Food and Beverage team.