Harding music wing named after 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year
BRIDGEPORT — The 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year and local music teacher will now be teaching in a music wing that bears her name.
The city school board voted to name a portion of the new Harding High School the Sheena Graham Performing Arts Center.
The vote was 3 in favor and 6 abstentions. Board members Maria Pereira, Sybil Allen and Joseph Lombard voted yes.
Board Chairman John Weldon, among those who abstained, said his non-vote had nothing to do with Graham but with an uncomfortableness about naming a school or part of a school after a current employee in the district.
Graham was named last fall as the state teacher of the year and late last month represented the state in Washington, D.C. with other state Teacher of the Year recipients from around the country.
Shaun Smith, an assistant principal at Harding, said Graham rose to the top of a short list of finalists in naming the brand new high school’s performing arts wing. Another top contender was jazz musician Duke Ellington.
Graham has taught music in the district since 1983. She was at Harding from 1998 to 2008 before transferring to Central High School then back to Harding. During her tenure she has brought choirs to music competitions call Fiesta-val, earning dozens of trophies. In addition to being recognized as a top teacher in the state, she has won local awards, including the city’s Theodore and Margaret Beard Excellence in Teaching Award and has performed twice for Michelle Obama at the White House with the Turnaround Arts Program.