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"Equilibrium" shouted Kathleen Sullivan's chemistry class at Bridgeport's Central High School as their teacher almost toppled to the floor demonstrating how chemicals bond together to stay in balance. Ms. Sullivan was one of two winners of the Foundation's Theodore and Margaret Beard Excellence in Teaching Award in 2012. She infects her classroom and school with enthusiasm and innovation.

Beard Excellence in Teaching Award
Nominations DUE january 28, 2015

The Story of Theodore and Margaret Beard

Connecticut natives Theodore and Margaret Beard attended public schools through high school in Bethel and Danbury. They continued, throughout their lives, to believe in public education.

In 2002, together with the Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation, the Beard family developed the Theodore and Margaret Beard Excellence in Teaching Award, an endowed fund that recognizes a public school teacher in Bridgeport.

Since then, 18 Bridgeport teachers have been honored.

As part of the merged foundation, the Fairfield County Community Foundation is pleased and honored to continue this fine tradition.

About the Beard Award

The Theodore and Margaret Beard Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 2002 by the Beard family to recognize and reward teachers who exemplify professional excellence, a commitment to teaching and an ability to inspire learning among students, communities and colleagues. Theodore and Margaret Beard, former Bridgeport residents, were dedicated to quality public education and believed the most important job in society is that of the teacher.

Each year, up to two Bridgeport educators are recognized with the award, receiving an unrestricted cash award of $25,000. The Beard Excellence in Teaching Award is among the largest awards of its kind in the country.

The awards will be announced at the Inspiration Awards ceremony in May in partnership with the Bridgeport Public Education Foundation.

Nominate a teacher by jan. 28

To nominate a Bridgeport educator for the Beard Award, download nomination package here.

If you have questions, please email Sharon Jones at sjones@fccfoundation.org

Inspiring educators can be nominated by community members, peers, students, parents, etc. and must teach in a Bridgeport public school. Competitive candidates for the Beard Excellence in Teaching Award exemplify professional excellence, as reflected in the excitement and enthusiasm for learning that students exhibit in the classrooms.

Other contributions to quality education in Bridgeport that will add to a candidate’s appeal as a potential award recipient include his or her ability to:

  • use creative and effective instructional strategies to meet the differing needs of students;
  • use effective assessment strategies to evaluate, monitor, and improve student learning;
  • demonstrate reflective practice and lifelong learning to improve teaching and student learning;
  • demonstrate collegiality and a commitment to share best practices;
  • use effective classroom management skills; and
  • involve students’ families. 

The 2013 Winners

The 2013  Beard Award winners were Hanh Figueroa, a third grade teacher at Geraldine Johnson School and Ryan Howard, a fifth grade teacher at Classical Studies Academy.

Ms. Figueroa has been teaching in the Bridgeport Public Schools for six years. Ms. Figueroa’s classroom has been designed to equip all students with the tools for thinking and living as respectful human beings. Tools for learning and thinking are made available for problem solving along with time for wrestling with hard concepts. Although Ms Figueroa has students at very different academic levels, each student has proudly demonstrated growth. She is described by her principal as a “warm demander” always challenging her students and producing excellent results.

“The culture in my classroom demonstrates that I truly care about my students and encourages them to take academic risks knowing that I will always support their effort," she said.

Mr. Howard has been teaching in the Bridgeport Public Schools for four years. The climate in his classroom is one of high expectations, respect and realism in terms of student interests and needs. He clearly reflects what quality teaching is all about. It is apparent that he cares about each student and provides many opportunities for student led discussions and peer assisted learning. He is described by his principal as one of those “rare” teachers that his students will remember and treasure forever.

“My enthusiasm and passion for education is contagious, and drives me to create an environment that is safe, creative and produces lifelong learners," he said.