BLOOMFIELD, Conn. — Growing up, Shannon Buzzell dreamed of becoming a pediatric nurse so she could take care of sick children.

After Buzzell got into college, she realized that only seeing young people at their most vulnerable and suffering was probably going to weigh too heavily on her and eventually cause burn-out.

So she switched her major to education and never looked back, teaching second and third grade in Bloomfield Public Schools, where she has spent her entire 13 year career.

“I get to be the nurse with the Band-Aid, a social worker and help them grow emotionally,” Buzzell said Thursday standing on the playground at Laurel Elementary School and resolving tiny conflicts among first- and second-grade students on the last day of classes.

Buzzell also gets to spend the next school year as the district’s reigning teacher of the year, which makes her somewhat uncomfortable.

“I don’t think I’m any more qualified than anyone else,” said Buzzell. “The second grade team is amazing. Laurel School is amazing. I really think it’s a team thing.”

Teamwork and encouraging her students to use their voice and solve problems is a mainstay in her work with second grade students, from activities like “snack attack” to putting on a play to raising money for a “buddy bench” for the playground.

When Buzzell’s students told her they wanted to buy a bench, they held a bake sale at the school on Election Day and raised about $1,000, twice as much as they needed for it.

And when they realized that there was a lot of left over money, one of her students suggested they use it to help a family in need at Christmas, and that’s what they did.

That student was Kedar Hall, 7, who said he enjoys having Buzzell as a teacher because she’s funny and keeps the class busy

“I’m going to miss her a lot,” said Kedar, who will be moving on to Metacomet Elementary School next year. “I’ll miss her personality.”

Buzzell lives in Glastonbury with her son John, 8, and daughter Elena, 10.

“There are some years when I count the days (to the end of school) and there are some years when some of the kids feel the same way,” she said. “This is a fantastic group. We really turned into a family.”

Principal Paul Guzzo said Buzzell’s recognition is well-deserved and that she has a way of helping students who are struggling to find their way.

“She’s one of the best teachers I have,” Guzzo said. “She’s my go-to person.”

Online: http://cour.at/2t30xrE


Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com

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STEVEN GOODE
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