Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts has honored 10 area teachers with the sixth annual RMHC Local Hero Awards. The selected teachers from Connecticut and Western Massachusetts have all exhibited tremendous dedication to their profession and outstanding efforts in servicing their schools and communities. The recipients were honored by the RMHC Board of Directors at The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford on Wednesday, November 28, and were joined by Superintendents and Principals from their respective districts and schools, as well as other invited guests including local McDonald’s owners and Ronald McDonald himself. Each honoree was presented with a plaque commemorating their award. Among those honored with the prestigious award include Eric Nyquist, who is a Theater Teacher at Hamden High School. To further recognize Mr. Nyquist for his hard work, RMHC awarded a $1,000 grant to Hamden High School in his honor.
“Our board of directors is proud to acknowledge these exceptional teachers for their tireless commitment and important service,” said Laura Phillips Ward, President of RMHC of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. “Our RMHC chapter awards grants to local nonprofits that provide a brighter future for children, with a particular focus on supporting education. With the Local Hero Awards, we are able to thank the devoted professionals who help children everyday – our outstanding area teachers.”
There is no application or nomination process for the RMHC Local Hero Awards. Instead, the local charity works closely with partnering organizations, such as the Connecticut Association of Schools, Connecticut State Department of Education and the Massachusetts Department of Education, to identify these "Heroes" throughout the region.
As the Theater Teacher at Hamden High School, which boasts over 2,000 students and 200 staff members, Eric Nyquist is able to connect with most everyone and relay his passion for the arts. In addition to his regular class instruction, he directs two Mainstage Ensemble productions each year and rehearses with students after school every day as well as on Saturday Build Sessions. The productions his students put on, such as the world-renowned play Chicago, are often dubbed as being “Broadway-quality” and are always sold-out. Mr. Nyquist goes out of his way to encourage new thespians, and creates a diverse cast with trained student actors, dance team members, and even track athletes. He also teaches a number of special needs students with complete patience and understanding. Mr. Nyquist’s lessons are always engaging and fun – in fact, when his Children’s Theater class performed and taught at a local elementary school, he was flooded with requests from the other 8 elementary schools to have the same successful program! Mr. Nyquist is always keen to stay involved and give back – he serves as a lead curriculum writer for Fine Arts Department, volunteers for numerous leadership committees, and has even served as a basketball coach in the past. He maintains communication with students to continue helping them with their career aspirations long after they have graduated. RMHC was pleased to recognize Mr. Nyquist with the Local Hero Award, and Hamden High School Principal Gary Highsmith notes that the grant money from the award will be put to good use with Mr. Nyquist’s input.
Since 1988, RMHC of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts has provided more than $6 million to over 400 non-profit organizations, helping thousands of area children lead happier, healthier and more productive lives. RMHC and its global network of local chapters in over 50 countries and regions have awarded more than $460 million in grants and program services supporting children worldwide. For more information about RMHC visit www.rmhc-ctma.org or connect at www.facebook.com/rmhc.ctma.