Honored Educator Featured – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Honored Educator Featured

As part of the recent graduation weekend, Hobart and William Smith Colleges presented Touching the Future Awards to two special high school teachers for the role they played in the lives of two graduating HWS students.

The award is given during Commencement each year to celebrate the faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges who have touched the future of graduates by their interactions. Additionally, the award celebrates and honors the many early childhood educators — those in elementary, middle and high schools — who have led graduates to Hobart and William Smith and to crossing the stage for Commencement.

A recent article in the New Have Register features one of the two recipients, Nick Collicelli, former Hamden High School Social Studies teacher who was nominated by William Smith senior Colleen Carpinella .

“This just vindicates what I’ve been doing all these years,” Collicelli is quoted in the article. “I’ve never been so moved by an award as I am with this one.”

The full text of the article appears below.

New Haven Register
Retired educator basks in kudos

Patricia Villers • Register Staff • June 5, 2009

Retired educator Nick Collicelli of Ansonia has helped students work toward a better future for more than a quarter century.

He started a Human Relations Club in the 1980s at Hamden High School, where he taught social studies.

In 2007, Collicelli brought the concept to Ansonia High School, and with the help of Superintendent of Schools Carol Merlone and other administrators, formed a Human Relations Club at the school.

The student-run organization has more than 60 members. The club has hosted several prejudice-reduction conferences, including one last month for middle and high school students from across the state at Quinnipiac University in Hamden.

Collicelli was recognized recently for his work by Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. During commencement exercises, he was presented with the Touching the Future Award.

Collicelli expressed surprise and gratitude on getting the honor. He said he and his wife, Chris, were treated like royalty by college President Mark D. Gearan and his wife, Mary, and several of the trustees.

“This just vindicates what I’ve been doing all these years,” Collicelli said. “I’ve never been so moved by an award as I am with this one.”

Colleen Carpinella, a graduate of Hamden High School and now Hobart and William Smith, nominated Collicelli for the award. It is given each year to celebrate faculty members at Hobart and William Smith Colleges who have touched the future of graduates by their interactions. The prize also recognizes and honors early childhood educators, those in elementary, middle and high schools, who have led their students to Hobart and William Smith and to eventually crossing the stage for commencement.

Carpinella nominated Collicelli because of the values he imparted to her.

“Mr. Collicelli instilled in me a passion for social justice through the Hamden High School Human Relations Club that he founded to promote tolerance and understanding and the eradication of racial prejudice,” Carpinella said. “He saw a racially diverse school with overwhelming potential for conversation and understanding, but with a deficiency in cross-racial dialogue,” she said. “I have been inspired by his passion and his dedication to social justice, and can honestly say that my career path would be significantly different had I never met Mr. Collicelli.”

Carpinella is a member of the Hai Timiai Senior Honor Society and plans to attend the University of California at Los Angeles to pursue a doctorate in social psychology, with an emphasis in political psychology.

The Touching the Future Award was established by the Hobart and William Smith Colleges board of trustees in 2004. It derives its name from the words of Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher selected to participate in the space shuttle program, who died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. McAuliffe expressed the sentiments of many educators when she said, “I touch the future, I teach.”

Patricia Villers can be reached at pvillers@nhregister.com.