Joel Barlow High School teacher, Christopher Poulos, has been selected to be inducted into The National Teachers Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2022.
Poulos, who teaches Spanish for grades 9 through 12, is one of just five teachers across the nation to be inducted this year. Furthermore, he is only the fifth teacher from Connecticut to have been selected in the 30 years since the organization’s founding.
“ (Poulos) is always in it for the students, and he tries to encourage them to be active in leadership roles. He loves the Spanish language and culture. He is a teacher leader,” said Angela Staron, the chair of the humanities department at Joel Barlow.
Poulos graduated from the University of Richmond (VA) in 1997, and joined the peace corps shortly after, where he spent 27 months in Honduras. He began his Career at Joel Barlow in 2000, and received his M.A. from Columbia University in 2003.
At the Barlow ceremony on Monday Poulos recalled how in September after he was made aware of his nomination he was on the phone with Gina Pin, the former principal of Joel Barlow, who told him he had to “try to get this honor, not for him but “to put a spotlight on the fine teaching and learning that’s going on, not just at Joel Barlow High School, or in the district, or even in Connecticut, but all over.”
“I am getting this honor, and I accept it on behalf of all teachers. Especially the teachers at Joel Barlow High School where I have worked my whole career. Whether you know it or not, everyone that I have interacted with throughout my career, has made me the teacher who I am,” said Poulos.
Poulos has achieved much in the 22 years since he began his career. Most notably, he was awarded Connecticut Teacher of the Year in 2007, served as the Teacher Leader in Residence for the Connecticut State Department of Education in 2013-2015, and was a member of the first Teacher-Leader Fellowship held by the Aspen Institute. Furthermore, he is a founder and previous president of the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Council, former Board President of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, member of the National Education Association, and a National Board Certified Teacher.
“Most of you know that in December, I had a skiing accident. I broke my leg and I was on crutches for 12 weeks,” said Poulos. “When I got into that classroom, on crutches, and I was connecting an Ipad to a smartboard so that I could teach sitting down with an Apple pencil. Let me tell you, those are some of the worst lessons I have ever given, teaching award or not. But simply being in the classroom, engaged in the process of teaching and learning, reaffirmed to me that I have made the right choice in my profession, and how I have chosen to live my work life…. I love my job, I love teaching. Thank you,” he said.
Poulos, alongside his fellow recipients, will be recognized at a series of events in Emporia, Kansas this coming June. These events include: a live streamed roundtable discussion, participation in community events, helping to re-dedicate the National Memorial to Fallen Educators. The honorees will also attend the banquet and induction ceremony. In addition, the inductees will be honored at a reception hosted by the National Education Association at their Washington DC headquarters.
Photographs by Richard Falco