Laura J. Krenicki: 2016

Mystic Seaport has named Laura J. Krenicki from the William J. Johnson Middle School in Colchester the recipient of the 2016 Orion Award.

The Orion Award recognizes teachers who use the resources of Mystic Seaport to illuminate history, and create a living record that reflects America’s present and future as well as its past. This annual award recognizes stellar teachers who are inspiring to their students and to their colleagues. And, perhaps most importantly, teachers who radiate the joy of learning, as well as of teaching. It is named for one of the most familiar constellations — the Hunter Orion, son of the sea god Poseidon — which has often marked the course for seagoing vessels.

Krenicki has been teaching 6th grade for thirteen years, and is an inspiration to her students as well as other teachers. Shwe has worked closely with the Mystic Seaport Education Department staff here to create innovative field trips for her students that truly capitalize on all the Museum has to offer.

She has also been a Mystic Seaport for Educators (MSE) Fellow for the past two summers, and has created excellent content for the MSE website that showcases the primary sources in our collection.  As a Fellow, . Krenicki has worked on several projects, including the Indian Mariners Project, a collaboration between multiple institutions and individuals that explores the history of and ongoing relationship between Native peoples and the sea. While researching for this project. Krenicki learned about the international connections the whaling industry provided between local people and cultures as far away as New Zealand. Her students began to investigate some of these connections, and partnered with a school in New Zealand. To continue this relationship and to make connections with descendants of local Connecticut mariners. Krenicki was awarded a Fund for Teachers Fellowship to travel to several sites in New Zealand in 2017 to continue the research.

Krenicki is not content to “just” change the lives of her students; she is also passionate about being a mentor and teacher to other teachers as well.  She teaches a class of aspiring elementary school teachers at Eastern Connecticut State University as well as the University of New Haven. A National Geographic Certified Teacher and the professional development chair for the Connecticut Geographic Alliance, Krenicki has worked with teachers around the state on professional development programs in geography and social studies. She was also one of the authors of the Social Studies Frameworks for Connecticut, and was appointed a Board member of the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies.

Krenicki was recently named the recipient of the Excellence in Social Studies Education award by the Connecticut Council of Social Studies for the state of Connecticut, and has also been recognized as one of the Connecticut Teacher of the Year semi-finalists in her district in 2005.

“As impressive as all these accolades are, even more important is the amazing energy and spirit that Laura brings to her classroom, and to every project she works on,” said Sarah Cahill, the director of education at Mystic Seaport. “She is a creative thinker and is constantly thinking of ways to improve teaching and learning.  We are proud to work with Laura, and her students are lucky to have her.”