Greenwich educator who is ‘in it for her students’ selected for Teacher of the Year program

GREENWICH — Tyler Mecozzi, a science teacher at Western Middle School, has been selected as the Greenwich Public Schools’ entry in the 2023 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program.

Mecozzi, who has been a science teacher at WMS for the last 11 years, will be recognized at Wednesday’s Board of Education virtual meeting for this honor. Superintendent Toni Jones announced her selection Monday afternoon.

“Observing her in the classroom was like watching a master class on teaching middle school science. She made a very detailed lesson plan look easy. Every student was engaged and genuinely enjoying their learning,” Jones said of Mecozzi. “Her students were analyzing what was happening with an eager discussion. She reaches and teaches every student, differentiating the lesson in a way to meet the needs of every student.”

Mecozzi thanked her nominators as well as the Distinguished Teacher Awards Committee and Jones for the honor of representing Greenwich in the 2023 Connecticut Teacher of the Year program run by the state Department of Education.

“The past 11 years, and especially this last one, have provided incredible opportunities for me to learn and grow as an educator alongside my dedicated colleagues and administrators who work tirelessly to make Western a positive environment,” Mecozzi said. “Our resilient students serve as my daily inspiration to deliver the greatest possible school experience and capitalize on the unique privilege to make a difference in their lives.”

According to the state education department, the Teacher of the Year Program recognizes and honors excellence by an educator. It does not attempt to select the “best” teacher; rather, to identify, from among many outstanding teachers of the year, one to serve as a visible and vocal representative of what is best in the profession. The program celebrates excellence in teaching by recognizing teachers who have inspired a love for learning in their students and who have distinguished themselves in the profession.

During her tenure at WMS, Mecozzi has taught seventh and eighth grade science, seventh grade STEM electives as well as mathematics support classes. Over the past nine years, she has been the science department learning facilitator, taking the lead in developing and implementing the district curricula.

Mecozzi received her bachelor’s degree in science, mathematics and reading education from Miami University in Ohio and a master’s in teacher leadership from Quinnipiac University.

She was named in April as one of six Greenwich educators who “navigated many challenges” in the past year.

The district’s five other honorees as 2022 Distinguished Teachers were Libby Craig, advanced learning program teacher at the International School at Dundee; Ryan Jones, a social studies teacher at Greenwich High School; Alison Kistler, a kindergarten teacher at North Mianus School; William Ronk, a fourth grade teacher at Riverside School; and Darcey Zygmont, a third grade teacher at North Street School.

Students, parents and colleagues submitted the nominations for Distinguished Teachers in early March. The Distinguished Teachers Award Committee selects six representatives from the nominations.

The Distinguished Teachers Award Committee is a nonprofit founded in 1984 that celebrates the excellence of Greenwich Public Schools staff.

Those six educators were also honored in May for the contributions to the school community. At that event, Mecozzi stepped onstage to accept the honor with her colleague Michele Giorlando DeRosa, who nominated her.

Giorlando DeRosa spoke of how Mecozzi has filled Western’s science labs with her ideas for 11 years. Outside of science, she has coached soccer, basketball and softball; created the first adviser-based Olympics; and took charge as the Saturday academic coordinator and teacher.

She and a colleague received the Greenwich Alliance Reaching Out Grant, which allowed them to create an interdisciplinary English and science course exploring climate change.

Mecozzi keeps herself busy — building a house with her husband, raising two young kids and keeping energized in a classroom of middle schoolers, Giorlando DeRosa said.

“Everyone seems to want some of Tyler’s time, and somehow she gives it to all of us,” she said.

Mecozzi gave the reason behind her hours of dedication: passion.

“Passion is a funny thing. I have sat on the phone or computer with colleagues until the middle of the night countless times working,” she said. “I know this sounds insane but when you really love what you do, you try and solve the puzzle that is teaching.”

Mecozzi is also committed to helping others: She is one of the members of the WMS community who stepped forward for its St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser and chopped off her long ponytail in exchange for a shoulder-length cut and to raise money for childhood cancer research..

“We at Western Middle School are so proud of Mrs. Mecozzi,” said Gordon Beinstein, principal at WMS. “The best thing that can be said about her is the best thing anyone can say about a teacher: She is in it for her students. While she is an expert in her content area, and she is a leader in our school, everything she does is motivated by what is best for all of the students in her room. Her connection to her kids is deep and it is real. They love her class because they love her, and as a result, they give her their best effort.”

For more information about the CT Teacher of the Year Program, visit portal.ct.gov/SDE/TOY/Connecticut-Teacher-of-the-Year-Program.

Include prior reporting by staff writer Annelise Hanshaw.