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Robert Cotto Announces Re-election Campaign

HARTFORD — Hartford Board of Education Robert Cotto, Jr., will seek reelection in November’s election.

Cotto now serves as board secretary and works as a senior policy fellow with Connecticut Voices for Children. He said that during his four-year tenure, he has been “a leading voice on the Hartford Board of Education for equal educational opportunities for all children in our public schools.” For example, he led policy changes that made school uniforms more affordable for families, made the choice process more accessible through paper applications, and encouraged more of Hartford’s high schools to attain accreditation, he said in a statement to the press.


“Our public schools must help children learn to become engaged, productive, and healthy adults,” Cotto said. “To accomplish that goal, I have used my office to advocate for a rich, broad curriculum for all students, sufficient resources for all schools, better ways of evaluating schools, and collaborating with teachers and parents for school improvement. Across the state, I have protested the inappropriate use of tests to judge schools and award bonuses, excessive disciplinary practices, increasing racial and ethnic isolation, and the privatization of schools.”

In addition, Cotto said his tenure so far includes:

Chairing a policy committee that:

  • Proposed a policy for schools to demonstrate quality by attaining accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
  • Modified the school uniform policy to stop “sole-source” vendors of uniforms.
  • Helped modify policies ranging from School Governance Councils, physical activity and nutrition, to anti-bullying and harassment.

Additional highlights include:

  • Authored a resolution to provide paper applications for the local school choice process.
  • Authored a resolution for a study on dual-language inter-district magnet programs.
  • Helped eliminate bonus pay for top-level administrators.

Proposed policies from the last four years:

  • Proposed a policy that would require a vote to accept grants from private donors and foundations that want to change or control Board of Education policy.
  • Proposed a policy that would require a three-year term renewal by the Board of Education for all top-level administrators.
  • Proposed modifications to the policy on “grading” of children’s schoolwork.



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Hartford Honors Its Teacher of the Year: Mario Marrero


It is one thing for a teacher to believe that every child can learn. It is quite another for a teacher to persuade every one of his students that they can learn. Mario Marrero, a fourth-grade teacher at the Betances STEM Magnet School, is precisely that kind of teacher, according to colleagues.

“He always sets high expectations for his students, not only in their academics, but in their behavior,” said fellow teacher Melissa Rodriguez. “They are like small soldiers as they walk through the hallways and into their room.”

Born in Hartford to a family of teachers, Marrero received his primary middle and high school education in South Windsor. During his college years, Marrero studied in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and graduated from Southwestern Adventist University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

He joined the teaching staff at Hartford Public Schools right from college and has so made a difference in the lives of the city’s children that he has been named Hartford’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.

The surprise announcement was made at the annual Hartford Public Schools Teacher of the Year dinner banquet held at The Marriott Hartford Downtown Hotel in Hartford.

“Teaching is my passion and I take pride and joy in what I do,” Marrero says. “We are in the exciting position of being able to shape and mold our future.”

Mr. Marrero began his career in education as a sixth grade teacher at what was then known as the Annie Fisher Magnet School of Multiple Intelligences. After two years at Fisher, he accepted a position as a third-grade teacher at Milner Core Knowledge Academy. Throughout his four years at Milner, he taught third and fifth grade. Mr. Marrero also spent his after school hours tutoring and coaching the middle grades basketball team. He credits his time at Milner for making him the teacher that he is today.

At Betances STEM Magnet School, where he plays an important role in the integration of technology in the classroom, Marrero is also the Lead Teacher of the Science Department, where he and his colleagues create inquiry-based lessons to help provide rigorous, hands-on learning experiences for their students.

“Treat education like a free buffet,” Mr. Marrero tells his students. “Get as much out of it as you can.”

A resident of Avon, Mr. Marrero belongs to the Connecticut Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church, where he has taught Sabbath school, played various roles in the annual Christmas musical and sings in the church choir.

Featured Photo: Mario Marrero, 2013 HPS Teacher of the Year, (seated center) Photo Courtesy of Hartford Public School.
Inset Photo: Photo: Mario Marrerro, 2013 HPS Teacher of the Year, (left) Robert Cotto, Jr. Hartford Board of Education Secretary (middle), Keith Sevigny, 2012 HPS Teacher of the Year. (right). Photo Courtesy of Robert Cotto, Jr.

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