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Sullivan, Oliver Earn First Allies In Education Award



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Newtown Allies for Change (NAFC) announced it has awarded two local educators with its first annual Allies in Education Award.

The 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 (DEI) in the classroom.

Sandy Hook Elementary School fourth grade teacher Connie Sullivan and Newtown Middle School eighth grade social studies teacher Shari Oliver earned the award. Oliver was awarded a $250 grant sponsored by local Newtown jewelry business Sky Blue Designs.

Sullivan was awarded a $500 grant sponsored by local Newtown business Social Decor, which specializes in lighting and fabric for special events.

According to a release from NAFC, Sullivan believes that there is no better job in the world than teaching.

She loves spending her days with kids. Sullivan is also a Life is Good Playmaker. She works everyday to bring the power of optimism to her students.

Sullivan 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 can not be silent. They must create classrooms that celebrate DEI.

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 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.”

Oliver has held the position of Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator for the past 11 years at NMS, according to the release. It has been her mission to celebrate all of her students in the classroom and to tell the story of the nation through the lens of all those who lived it.

Oliver shared, “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.”

Oliver is thankful for the support that the BOE and administrators have given her by prioritizing DEI in the classroom.

From left are Nicole Powers of Sky Blue Designs, award recipient Shari Oliver, Newtown Allies For Change (NAFC) Chair Kate McGrady, and NAFC Vice Chair Nicole Maddox.
From left are Marisa Rizzo of Social Decor, award recipient Connie Sullivan, and Newtown Allies For Change Chair Kate McGrady.
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