WINDSOR, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont and state Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona were in Windsor Friday morning to make a special announcement.

Rochelle Brown was named Connecticut’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, and Maria Sau was named the 2021 Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year. Both are teachers at Windsor’s Poquonock School. 

“What a proud moment for Windsor Public Schools and Poquonock School,” Commissioner Cardona exclaimed.

The gym at Poquonock was filled with excitement — and celebration. The two received a standing ovation from their school community when the announcement was made.

“It is amazing that for the first time ever, Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year and Paraeducator of the Year both happen to come from the same school,” said Governor Lamont. “Ms. Brown and Mrs. Sau have both dedicated themselves to their students, and I cannot applaud them enough for the services they provide.”

Brown – a kindergarten teacher at the school – was understandably overcome with emotion during the ceremony, telling those on hand, “I love you all and I will do my best to make Poquonock, Windsor, and the state of Connecticut proud.”

“We are all in this together,” said Sau, who has been a Windsor Public Schools paraeducator for more than 20 years. “We have to be strong for our students and their families.”

Cardona discussed what makes both teachers special and more than qualified to receive these awards.

“The best educators ground their practice in relationships,” said Cardona. ”Passionately committed to equity in education and forming connections with their students in a way that resonates beyond the walls of the schoolhouse, Rochelle and Maria exemplify what we aspire to as educators. Congratulations!”

The governor lauded not only the two teachers honored but public school teachers throughout the state.

“Connecticut has the best public school teachers in the nation, and I am proud to celebrate their accomplishments and recognize the improvements they continue to make every day in our state,” said Lamont.

Ms. Brown will now become Connecticut’s representative for 2021 National Teacher of the Year. As Connecticut’s Paraeducator of the Year, Mrs. Sau will represent the profession in forums and advisory committees influencing education policy and public awareness of the successes that take place daily in schools, as well as the challenges they face.