Lisa Corrone didn’t always want to be a teacher. When she went to the University of Saint Joseph, she initially thought of doing a different major before she chose to study in elementary education and special education. If that Lisa of the past met the current Lisa, recently named 2017-’18 Teacher of the Year by Clinton Public Schools, it’s a fair bet to say she’d be shocked—just as she was when informed she won the honor.
“I was very surprised,” Lisa says, while also giving credit to all her colleagues who were nominated.
“Everyone works very hard,” Lisa says.
For Lisa, this award is the recognition of providing more than 28 years of a critical service in the education field.
“I’m genuine; I do what’s right for the kids,” Lisa says.
Lisa currently works as a special education teacher in the Intensive Learning Program at Lewin G. Joel Elementary School. Lisa works with kids that range from pre-K to grade 3. Lisa’s current position includes working with kids with a wide variety of learning disabilities, from autism to cerebral palsy. She and her staff of five assistants customize each individual child’s day to meet each child’s needs. Lisa says this aspect of her job means she and her staff are in “constant contact with parents.”
Lisa says she typically calls each parent before the start of the school year to introduce herself and simply ask how their summers went.
Meetings with students one-on-in or in small groups also help her and her staff get to know each child more intimately.
“I get to know every student,” Lisa says.
To foster a connection, Lisa uses tactics as involved as getting to know students’ families and as simple as making good eye contact with the kids. Knowing students this close is a good thing, she says, as it’s not just academics she’s helping her students with.
“We do everything like helping kids walk, talk, and eat—life skills,” Lisa says.
Her favorite part of her job is “bringing joy to children...Finding what they’re passionate about and seeing their eyes light up.”
As some of her students are non-verbal, successes with those students can be especially rewarding. While she describes her job as rewarding, that’s not to say it’s stress free. Lisa says it can be hard managing everything day to day.
Though she wishes she could spend all six hours of a school day with each individual kid, she knows that’s not a realistic goal and has to adjust accordingly. Lisa uses a quote from author Maria Robinson to describe her view as a teacher: “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anybody can start today and make a new ending.” “If we can make every student feel valued, we can teach them anything,” Lisa says.
Lisa has worked in her current role for about six years. Before that, she taught other classes in the school across an array of grades and programs.
“I seek change,” Lisa says. “I’m not a teacher that’s going to be in the same class for 35 years.”
Lisa has been teaching in Clinton since 1996, after spending three years working in the towns of Chester and Deep River.
Lisa actually grew up in and still lives in Clinton. She graduated from The Morgan School with the class of 1986. When she initially attended the University of Saint Joseph, Lisa intended to study child psychology before changing her major. Lisa says her decision to change majors and her fondness for studying education “just kind of evolved.”
That change in major has eventually allowed Lisa the special chance to become part of the town was raised in.
“I love I can give back to the town I grew up in,” Lisa says.
Part of that community involvement plays out each year when Lisa helps organize a charity fundraiser at the school to mark the 100th day of school. For the event, each class brings in 100 of an item, which are them distributed to about eight different charities. Lisa says she’s “very proud” of the effort, which she compares to a pep rally.
When school is not in session, Lisa enjoys hobbies such as biking, “a nice beach day,” and attending summer classes. Lisa also enjoys spending time with her husband Jeff, and their kids Jamie and Jake.