ANSONIA — Out of the 17 technical high schools in the state, Steven Orloski took the top honor as the 2019 Connecticut Technical Education and Career System teacher of the year.
Orloski, a 49-year-old Beacon Falls resident, is the precision machining department head at Emmett O’Brien Technical High School where he teaches as well.
“We have students working in aerospace, biomedical, plastics industry, food industry, the automotive industry,” Orloski said. “We basically get an engineered drawing and the students can pretty much make anything possible to that blueprint specification.”
Orloski’s family influenced his career path. His father, grandfather and brother were all in the manufacturing field. As a child, Orloski watched all three work and asked questions.
“I just wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps,” Orloski said. “My father and mother were both a big inspiration in my life.”
Orloski has come full circle with the technical school system. He attended Bullard-Havens Technical High School in Bridgeport. After graduation, he served an apprenticeship and became a certified tool and die maker. Later on, he worked in the aerospace and plastic industry.
Orloski started teaching as a substitute at Emmett O’Brien while working at Sikorsky. He taught manufacturing at Platt Technical High School for 16 years and has been at Emmett O’Brien full time for the last three years.
“I felt like that (teaching) was the best opportunity for me to start giving back knowledge that I had and I could see the students grow every day in here. I really said to myself this is something that I like and something that I want to move a step over and start working with today’s youth,” Orloski said.
Orloski, who is married with two children in college, also teaches manufacturing classes at Housatonic Community College at night.
Orloski continues his work with youth outside of the classroom. He volunteers with Special Olympics, Pop Warner football and Little League baseball. Orloski also volunteers at the Beth-El Shelter, a homeless shelter in Milford, and to help clean the banks of the Housatonic River.
“I’ve just always been a big advocate for just trying to give back or help whenever I can. Whenever I have any free time, I’m a big proponent of getting involved and doing things with different types of agencies,” Orloski said. “Every year, for the Special Olympics, I group the students together and try to get them involved. Every year, I’m getting more and more students to get involved.”
Mike Sekulski, 46, is a fellow a manufacturing teacher at Emmett O’Brien who works in the same classroom with Orloski. Sekulski, who started teaching in February, said he couldn’t have a better mentor than Orloski.
“He has a very good relationship with all the students,” Sekulski said. “All the students respect him, he respects all the students equally.”
When asked what his message is to the youth, Orloski said, “Always try to push ahead and never settle. Every day always give the best you can and never settle for status quo. Always try to improve on what you’re learning and what you’re doing.”
Correction: Steven Orloski’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.