Lincoln’s Costa named Cumberland Teacher of Year

Lincoln’s Costa named Cumberland Teacher of Year

Cumberland’s Teacher of the Year is Kristen Costa, center, who is pictured with B.F. Norton Principal Dina Cerra, left, and Supt. Bob Mitchell.

CUMBERLAND – B.F. Norton Elementary School teacher Kristen Costa, a 2002 graduate of Cumberland High School and a Lincoln resident, is Cumberland’s Teacher of the Year.

In front of a classroom of cheering students and smiling colleagues, Supt. Robert Mitchell surprised Costa with the announcement last Friday.

“Kristen Costa, in my opinion, epitomizes the quintessential teacher in our community,” he said. “She’s dedicated. She works tirelessly in the best interest of her students, and she knows how to push them to find their own personal level of success.”

Costa was selected out of more than 400 teachers in the Cumberland School Department for this year’s recognition, according to an online post.

Costa said she was in “complete shock” and “overwhelmed” by the award, saying she had no idea it was coming.

“My kids are my world,” she said. “I was speechless about this.”

As those who nominated her stated, “Kristen celebrates the small successes of each student as she is working to help students realize that their hard work is paying off as well as to help them see their potential. She makes every effort to work with grade level teachers to provide students with as much inclusion time as possible.”

Costa, 33, is a special educator in B.F. Norton’s “Success” program for students in grades K-2. A graduate of Rhode Island College, she has a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education and has been a member of the Cumberland School Department since 2006.

On why she thinks she won the top honor, Costa said she’s a “huge advocate” for her students, and always seeks what’s best for them through giving them the experiences other students have. Many have experienced barriers in life, and she’s learned so much through their “perseverance, grit, and overcoming challenges.” These students have helped make her who she is, said Costa.

“I’m their teacher but I’ve learned so much from them on a daily basis,” she said.

She said her passion since 5th grade has been special education, and she doesn’t see herself ever leaving for another job.

“Kristen is passionate about teaching students to identify and regulate their emotions,” states a nomination letter. “She helped bring an emotion regulation curriculum to the school and created an evening parent training to help parents uses similar evidence-based strategies at home. Her devotion to her students is remarkable. She has been available to help families after hours, on weekends, and before school. Kristen created parent training opportunities, is in constant communication with families, and collaborates with outside providers regarding ways to improve student behavior.”

It adds, “Kristen creates a collaborative working environment that utilizes the strengths of those working with her. Her colleagues look to her to understand behavior, guide interventions, and support them in helping students in need. She has modeled best practices and strategies for new staff both inside and outside of the Success program, while she continues to hone in on her own professional growth.”

Costa said she loves coming to work every day to help create a happy and safe place for students where they can feel every bit a success. She said families know she’s just a phone call away and will always listen to them.