Alumna named 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year

As Montana’s top teacher, Melissa Romano is in the running for National Teacher of the Year. Up next? Maybe state Senate

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University of Bridgeport (UB) alumna Melissa Romano ’02, ’03, who has been previously recognized at the White House for her expertise in math education and is quickly becoming a recognized name in Montana politics, has been named 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year.

Romano is a fourth grade teacher at Four Georgians Elementary School in Helena. She is also a Democratic candidate for state Senate.

Romano earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences and a Master of Science in Elementary Education from UB. In 2012, she won a National Science Foundation President’s Award for Excellence in Mathematics for her work as a K-8 math coach and as an elementary school math and science teacher. She was recognized at the White House for the prize in 2013.

Romano won her most current award, 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year, on October 19. It was presented by the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation.

“It’s a huge honor, and one that I don’t take lightly,” Romano said. “I have tons of colleagues who could be Teacher of the Year, so I see this as a representation of all of us and all the great things that are happening in our state.”

As Teacher of the Year, Romano will serve as an ambassador for public education and attend several national events with the other state teachers of the year. She said she plans to push for solutions to end her state’s teacher shortages and to lobby for early childhood-education funding.

Public appearances as Montana’s top teacher should help Romano elevate her run for state Senate in 2018.

Last year, Romano lost a bid for state Superintendent of Public Education.

“I really have a desire to make a difference for our kids,” Romano said of her entry into politics. “Montana is one of a handful of states that does not offer state-funded preschool. If we’re going to get all kids on a path to success, we’ve got to invest in our youngest learners. Equity starts early.”

A native of Helena, Romano left her home state to work as a nanny in Connecticut. She loved the job, and her passion for working with children inspired her to apply to UB and get a teaching degree. As a master’s degree student, she interned in the Trumbull, Connecticut, School District.

“I taught every grade level, at different schools, and I had the chance to work with so many great teachers, so when I came back to Montana [to teach], I felt so prepared,” said Romano.

Romano is the latest UB-trained teacher to win a prominent education award. In the past two years, 10 UB alumni have been named district-level teachers of the year, after being named teacher of the year at their respective schools. In addition, Stamford, Connecticut, teacher and alumnus Vincent Urbanowski, is one of 15 semifinalists to become 2018 Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

If named, Urbanowsi will follow the leaded of alumna Jahana Hayes, who served as 2016 National Teacher of the Year after she won 2016 Connecticut Teacher of the Year and 2016 Waterbury District Teacher of the Year. That same year, Jim Forde ’13, a Stamford math teacher, won a White House Champion of Change Award for his leadership in STEM education.

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu

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