Serafino earns Presidential recognition

Monroe Elementary School teacher Sean Serafino, center, with Michael Kratsios, left, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer for the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, and Dr. France A. Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation.

A longtime Monroe educator has earned the presidential seal of approval — a first for the school district.

Sean Serafino, a third grade teacher at Monroe Elementary School, was among 104 STEM teachers from across the country who traveled to Washington, D.C., late last month to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Serafino was honored for his science teaching.

“I was shocked and honored,” said Serafino about when he learned he has received this honor. “It is humbling to receive what is the highest honor a science or math teacher can receive.”

Sean Serafino, a Monroe Elementary third grade teacher, was chosen for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

“Sean is an amazing teacher,” said school Superintendent Dr. Jack Zamary. “He’s innovative, caring, dedicated, thoughtful, and reflective on his own practice on a regular basis. He really embodies great teaching, but he is also reflective of the great teaching going on across this district. Sean is a great representative for us. He has all the qualities of a great teacher, also reflects wonderful teaching that goes on in the district.

The PAEMST program, administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF), on behalf of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, recognizes outstanding teachers for their contributions to the teaching and learning of mathematics and science. This is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics or science (including computer science) teacher may receive and up to 108 teachers are honored each year.

Each awardee received a citation signed by President Donald Trump and a $10,000 award from NSF. Serafino was in Washington, D.C., on June 26-27 to attend the awards dinner as well as join in the annual STEM summit, during which he was able to offer his thoughts on improving such education in the years to come.

“This is an incredible honor, especially at the federal level,” added Zamary. “I have known teachers to go to state teacher of the year, but this is quite special for someone to make it to this high level.”

Serafino earned the opportunity to vie for the presidential award in 2016, when he won the Connecticut Science Teacher Association’s Excellence in Elementary Science Teaching Award. From there, Serafino was nominated for the presidential award, which included an intense application process, featuring a 45-minute video of one of his teaching sessions.

“No one enters the education field looking for rewards or gratification,” said Serafino in a quote on the PAEMST website. “We do it because we want to have a positive impact on our students’ lives and push them to meet their potential. This prestigious award celebrates the hard work of all my students as well as the teachers and mentors who have shaped me as an educator. The Presidential Award will open avenues for me to collaborate with other outstanding teachers as I continue to grow as an educator and effect positive change.”

Awardees also join an active network of outstanding educators from throughout the nation. Since 1983, more than 4,700 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

Serafino has been a teacher for 13 years at Monroe Elementary School, where he currently teaches third grade and is the school’s technology integrator. He sits on his district’s professional development committee, curriculum council, and his school’s data team.
Serafino is leading the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards by creating inquiry-based activities that engage his students. He utilizes project-based learning that connects across disciplines. As the technology integrator, Serafino works with the staff to integrate technology into the classroom. He has presented for the Connecticut Science Teachers Association, Connecticut Science Supervisors Association and the Connecticut Educators Computer Association.
In 2017, he earned the Weller Excellence in Teaching Award and has since taken on a role as an adjunct professor at Sacred Heart University, working with undergraduate and graduate level teaching candidates.
Serafino earned a B.A. in psychology, a M.A.T. in elementary education, and a sixth-year Certificate of Advanced Studies in science leadership from Sacred Heart University. He is certified in kindergarten through sixth grade elementary education and has previously taught first and fourth grade.

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