Watertown Public Schools is pleased to announce that Christopher Begnal, English teacher at Watertown High School, has been named the 2021-2022 District Teacher of the Year. District and Watertown High School administrators, colleagues and students surprised Mr. Begnal in his classroom with this exciting news.
Mr. Begnal graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from Western Connecticut State University in 1996. He continued on at Western Connecticut State University to receive a second Bachelor of Arts Degree in English in 2005. Following a calling to teaching, his second love of music, Mr. Begnal attended the University of Bridgeport in 2006 to obtain his Master of Science Degree and teaching certificate, which included a year-long internship at City Hill Middle School in Naugatuck, CT. Watertown High School had the pleasure of hosting Mr. Begnal for his student teaching experience. Recognizing his teaching talent and ability to form strong connections with students, Mr. Begnal was asked to officially join the Watertown High School English Department in 2007. Mr. Begnal currently teaches ninth grade English and a Senior course, called “Monsters and Literature of the Supernatural,” which he designed from the ground up, and is one of the most requested Senior English electives.
Mr. Begnal’s dedication to his students is evident. Year after year, he seeks to form relationships with all students, making them excited to walk through his classroom door. If anyone were to walk by Mr. Begnal’s classroom, they would hear his powerful and animated voice introducing a new concept or rolling around on the floor to act out the most action-packed parts of Homer’s The Odyssey (he claims he will one day get a sleeve tattoo representing the most iconic parts). Mr. Begnal is also not afraid to try new instructional strategies--he uses mentor texts to teach students how to write for a variety of purposes and consistently differentiates to meet the needs of Watertown’s ELL population. Finally, Mr. Begnal has taught in the Summer School Program at WHS. His belief that students should have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning allows students to be successful and come prepared for the following school year.
Outside of the classroom, Mr. Begnal contributes to the school community and culture of Watertown High School in countless ways. Mr. Begnal was the fall play co-advisor for several years; he performed as part of the Halo award-winning WHS student orchestra, in the spring musical productions of “All Shook Up,” “The Wiz,” “Seussical” and “Leap of Faith”; he emceed Family Bingo Night at WHS to help raise money for the Freshman class both years that it took place; he helped organize, run and performed at the WHS Battle of the Bands multiple times and he performed at the WHS “Music Under the Stars.” Most recently, Mr. Begnal offered his talents to “Karaoke for a Cure,” where he sang Jojo Siwa’s “Boomerang,” featuring his two lovely daughters.
Mr. Begnal will represent Watertown in the State of Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program for 2021-2022. We wish him the best of luck in this endeavor.
We have exceptional staff in Watertown Public Schools. The Teacher of the Year Program allows us to honor the efforts of all of our classroom teachers by selecting one representative of our excellent teaching staff. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t seize this opportunity to recognize the other spectacular nominees for Teacher of the Year 2021-2022:
- Jodie Angiolini, Special Education Teacher, Polk School
- Paulina Auclair, English Teacher, Watertown High School
- Anna Lisa Barlow, Fifth Grade Teacher, Polk School
- Julianne Bombero, Special Education Teacher, Swift Middle School
- Jenifer Caprari, First Grade Teacher, John Trumbull Primary School
- Diane Curci, English Teacher, Watertown High School
- Chelsie Guerrera, Math Teacher, Watertown High School
- Beth Kulmann, Kindergarten Teacher, John Trumbull Primary School
- Tara Lanese, PreK Teacher, John Trumbull Primary School
- Jennifer Longo, Second Grade Teacher, John Trumbull Primary School
- Erin Mathews, Language Arts Teacher, Swift Middle School
- Stephanie Milo, Fifth Grade Teacher, Polk School
- Richard Peronace, Social Studies Teacher, Swift Middle School
- Ashley Pettinato, School Psychologist, Watertown High School
- Dorothy Rinaldi, Computer Teacher, Judson and Polk Schools
- Jessica Sharkey, Special Education Teacher, Watertown High School
- Corrine Stentiford, Kindergarten Teacher, John Trumbull Primary School
- Kate St. John, Language Arts Teacher, Swift Middle School
- Beth Wolf, SRBI Coordinator, Watertown High School
L to R: Dr. A. Villanueva, Mr. M. Lewis, Dr. J. Parlato, Mr. C. Begnal, Ms. N. Cote, and Mr. T. Hoegrefe.