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It has been a good year for Joanne Faraci-not only has she been awarded the prestigious honor of being chosen as Employee of the Year for the Clinton school district, but this 28-year paraprofessional veteran at the Abraham Pierson School in Clinton also has had a cookie named after her, Nutty Joanne's, at the Pursuit of Pastry bakery in Old Saybrook.
It's the Employee of the Year recognition, received last month, that has her smiling most right now, however. A woman with many interests, Joanne is a well-known community member on the shoreline. Originally from Essex, she now resides in Old Saybrook and has worked tirelessly in Clinton for the past 28 years.
"What can I say, I just love what I do," says an upbeat Joanne with infectious exuberance.
"Joanne truly deserves the distinction of employee of the year," says Pierson Principal Angela Guarascio. "She is dedicated, enthusiastic, and hard working. She always has a sparkle in her eye, a love for the children she works with, and she goes above and beyond, every day."
"I am so honored and pleased to have received this award, but I really feel like I accepted it on behalf of all the paraprofessionals that work at my school. We all work so hard together-it's never just one of us; it's all of us," says Joanne, who extends the school day with her students by teaching a cooking class at the school after hours.
This mother and grandmother introduces the children to her favorite homemade pasta, as well as a bevy of different soup recipes and simple kitchen tasks such as peeling vegetables and setting the table.
"I love to cook, so I thought this would be something fun to share with the children," says Joanne.
A baking enthusiast, she's also the first to bring in made-from-scratch cupcakes, cakes, and sweet delights when there is a birthday, birth, or special occasion at the school. She also helps prepare the monthly school faculty breakfast.
Joanne has passed her love for working with children onto her own two daughters, both of whom are special education teachers in Connecticut.
"It's fulfilling to work with children that need you," says Joanne. "It's a good thing to do and it makes a difference."
In addition to all this, Joanne also has a second job, which speaks to her creative side. She works as a floral designer at Floral Affair in Guilford. She is also a member of the Old Saybrook Lion's Club, a shopper for the Warm the Children program, an avid Harley rider (riding for Special Olympics and other fundraising events), and a hair dresser by trade. Joanne and her husband also cook each year for the Clinton American Legion events.
"It's our way of giving back since my husband did not go into the service," explains Joanne.
She has four grandchildren who are the apple of her eye and has no plans of retiring from any of her jobs and tasks at this time.
"As long as I am walking, I will be working," says Joanne with a smile.
Proud of her accomplishments, she says her Employee of the Year plaque is proudly displayed on her wall where all can see it and she will make good use of her specially designated parking place at the school.
"I love what I do and I am very happy to have been recognized for this special award," Joanne says.