The Granby Public Schools proudly recognized James Janski as the 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year during closing ceremonies on June 21. In celebration of James’s achievement and contributions to the students of Granby, his family joined him on stage. James is currently a fifth grade teacher at Wells Road Intermediate School who takes an inquiry-based approach to student learning. James, a graduate of University of Hartford, has been a dedicated member of the Granby Public Schools for the majority of his career as an educator. He is celebrating the completion of his nineteenth year of making a difference in the lives of Granby students.
Kristen LaFlamme, a teammate of James for the past two years, describes their collaborative teaching partnership as a gift. Kristen shared, “I can fully attest to the dedicated work he does day in and day out. He creatively and patiently makes learning fun and engaging with hands on experiences, group work opportunities, challenging tasks and many open ended questions that promote quality discussion and a desire for continued student learning. James is a wonderful example of the many qualities one should possess in order to obtain the well-earned title of Teacher of the Year.”
James has an infectious passion for math and science and works tirelessly to bring those core subjects to life. This year in science, when trying to capture the distance between planets, James created a simulation for the students having them walk pre-determined distances between cones outdoors to better understand the scale. Students also created and wore brain caps to identify the different parts of the brain and understand how they function. Janski’s brain cap even proved helpful in the hands of a neurologist working to explain brain injuries in an accessible way.
Willingness to try something new is part of Janski’s practice. He was among the first to design flexible learning spaces for students, creating some furniture options for his students that allowed them to stand while learning. When you walk into his classroom, the environment itself makes students wonder. He skillfully works to help students arrive at the answer through their own investigation.
Janski is incredibly close with his family and is an active member of the Granby community in and out of school. He is a teacher wherever he is and students and families know he is always there to offer a smile, help where he can, and push others to think outside the box.
As Granby’s Teacher of the Year, Janski will be recognized at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in November, along with all other Teacher of the Year recipients from Connecticut towns.
Christopher Tranberg is Assistant Superintendent, Granby Public Schools.