NAUGATUCK — Graduates of the Naugatuck Adult Education program frequently go back to catch up with former teachers and administrators.
Nearly every one of them speaks about how much they learned from English teacher Lois Devino, said Heather Pelletier, Naugatuck Adult Education director.
“We hear time and time again, ‘I would have never passed college English without the skills I learned from Mrs. Devino,’” Pelletier said.
Devino was recently honored as educator of the year for 2015 by the Connecticut Association of Adult and Continuing Education.
The staff at Naugatuck Adult Education nominated her because she frequently goes above and beyond for students, often spending many hours of her own time working with those who need extra help, Pelletier said.
Devino, who lives in Oxford, taught English in the regular education program at Naugatuck High School for 39 years before retiring five years ago.
She stayed on as an adult education teacher, and has continued to teach students ranging from those who are learning the English language to those who are nearly ready to write college-level thesis papers, Pelletier said.
“She is constantly developing course materials to get each student where they need to be,” Pelletier said. “She is very innovative in the instruction she gives. She is dynamic and flexible to the students’ needs.”
Devino speaks with a passion and excitement about education that leads one to believe she will do it forever. She talks about the classroom as her stage and how she can develop a unique bond with students during lessons.
“I love it,” she said. “Where else can you get together in a room of 20 to 30 people and learn and laugh together?”
She loves the freedom of adult education that allows her to use her creativity to develop programs that will benefit each unique student.
“I don’t have someone saying, ‘You need to be on chapter nine by the end of the week,’ for example,” she said. “I teach what they want me to teach, but I do it in a way that I think will be best for the learners I have at the time. I’m not tied down by bureaucracy.”
Devino said she loves the challenges of adult education and the enthusiasm that many of the older students bring to the classroom. She matches that enthusiasm in every class.
“I never lost a passion for teaching,” she said. “We see tremendous growth in many adult (education) learners. … It’s very rewarding.”