2022 Allies in Education Award

Newtown Allies for Change (NAFC) is pleased to award two local educators with the 1st annual Allies in Education Award.  This award is given to local educators who are nominated by members of the NAFC Education Committee. These educators are recognized for the ways in which they have gone above and beyond to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom. 

Marisa Rizzo (Social Decor), Connie Sullivan (Teacher), Kate McGrady (NAFC)

Connie Sullivan, 4th grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was awarded a $500 grant sponsored by local Newtown business, Social Decor, which specializes in lighting and fabric for special events. 

Connie believes that there is no better job in the world than teaching. She loves spending her days with kids. Connie is also a Life is Good Playmaker. She works everyday to bring the power of optimism to her students. Connie believes that every teacher should strive to be the type of teacher they would want their own children to have and that when it comes to DEI, educators cannot be silent. They must create classrooms that celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion. Parents praise her for her willingness to sit with children and have hard conversations about race. She also includes literature from a diverse group of authors and makes sure that each child in her classroom feels heard and represented. When Ms. Sullivan was notified that she won this award she shared, “I hope that this gets more people involved with Allies and encourages more teachers to make DEI a part of their classroom.”

Nicole Powers (Sky Blue Designs), Shari Oliver (Teacher), Kate McGrady & Nicole Maddox (NAFC)

Shari Oliver, an 8th grade social studies teacher who has worked at Newtown Middle School for 27 years, was awarded a $250 grant sponsored by local Newtown jewelry business, Sky Blue Designs. 

Ms. Oliver has held the position of Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator for the past 11 years as well. She is honored to have won the NAFC Allies in Education Award. It has been her mission to celebrate all of her students in the classroom and to tell the story of our nation through the lens of all those who lived it. Ms. Oliver shares, “History is a story, and that’s why I love it so much. It tells us where we were and how we arrived at our specific place in time. Our American History is fascinating because there is such a range of voices to be heard, and when they are shared with our students they are able to see that no matter what their background, their story is an important part of our history.” Ms. Oliver is thankful for the support that the BOE and administrators have given her by prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom. This has given teachers the opportunity to evaluate and revise the curriculum to ensure that all voices in history are heard and celebrated.

Congratulations to our winners. NAFC looks forward to expanding this award in years to come.