Orlando Valentin Jr. Chosen For Research Initiative

Orlando Valentin Jr., an Alma Exley Scholar who is his first year of teaching, has been chosen to participate in a study intended  to improve teacher-preparation programs. Researchers from the University of Connecticut, the University of Virginia and Michigan State University will conduct the study.

Mr. Valentin,  who was honored with an Alma Exley Memorial Scholarship as a UConn student in 2016, is teaching fourth grade at Casimir Pulaski Elementary School in Meriden. He is among a number of graduates of the three universities and three other teacher-preparation programs who will be observed in their classrooms multiple times during their first and second years of teaching.

Dr. Dorothea Anagnostopoulos, executive director of teacher education at UConn, said, “We believe the study will provide new information on how we can improve teacher-education programs and how teacher-education programs can best work with elementary schools to support beginning teachers.”

The Meriden Public Schools and other participating school districts are expected to benefit from the program in a number of ways. The universities will share with the schools what they learn about factors that support beginning elementary teachers. At the conclusion of the study, the universities will offer curriculum materials as well as professional development for teachers designed to support improvement in literacy and mathematics.

Dr.  Miguel Cardona, assistant superintendent in Meriden, said, “In my visits to his classroom so far this year, I can see why he was one of our first hires.  The relationship he has with his students and his effective pedagogy make him a valuable asset to the Meriden Public Schools.”




Orlando Valentin Jr. Is Honored as Alma Exley Scholar for 2016

Orlando Valentin Jr. of Meriden, Conn., a student at the University of Connecticut, has been honored as the Alma Exley Scholar for 2016. Seven previous scholarship recipients were among those celebrating with him at a reception on May 4 at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford.

reception recipients 2016

Alma Exley Scholars from 1998-2015 celebrated with Orlando Valentin Jr. at a reception in his honor. Others. from left, Chi-Ann Lin, Violet Jiménez Sims, Dr. Miguel Cardona, Desi Nesmith, Margaret Seclen, Justis Lopez, Nadine Rosa.

Justis Lopez, the 2015 Alma Exley Scholar, was the guest speaker at the 20th annual reception, reflecting on his first year of teaching at Manchester High School and welcoming Mr. Valentin into the scholarship family.

In accepting the honor, Mr. Valentin announced that he had accepted a position as fourth grade teacher at Casimir Pulaski Elementary School in his hometown of Meriden. A graduate of Wilcox Technical High School, he is a student in the five-year Integrated Bachelor’s and Master’s Program in the Neag School of Education at UConn. He received a B.S. in Elementary Education with a concentration in science in May 2015. He was scheduled to receive an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction on May 7, 2016.

He has an outstanding record of academic achievement and public service. He has been an active volunteer in Windham elementary schools as a site manager with America Reads and as a team leader with AmeriCorps’ Jumpstart program. He has served as a leader in Bringing Awareness Into Latin Ethnicity (BAILE) and as president of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity. He also served as a leader of a student volunteer project that aided elementary schools in Jamaica.

He has been a martial arts practitioner for 15 years and holds a second-degree black belt. He works as an instructor in the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do.

He is a most deserving scholarship recipient, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Alma Exley Scholarship Family.

NAACP Honors Miguel Cardona

Dr. Miguel Cardona, 1998 Alma Exley Scholar, received the Education Award from the Meriden-Wallingford NAACP at its 19th annual Freedom Fund Dinner on October 23, 2015.

Dr. Cardona was appointed this year as assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in the Meriden Public Schools. He was one of several community residents honored at the dinner for their outstanding achievements.


Thanking his family and coworkers in the schools, he said, “I’m very proud to work for the Meriden Public Schools, where we understand our work is to promote the cradle-to-college pipeline, not the school-to-prison pipeline.”

The NAACP chapter also gave Dr. Cardona its Education Award in 2005, when he was principal of Hanover School in Meriden. A graduate of Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden, he received the Connecticut Technical High School Alumni of the Year Award in 2006, and he received the Shining Star Award from the Meriden Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

Dr. Cardona earned his bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Uconn. He  is one of four previous recipients of the Alma Exley Memorial Scholarship who support the program by serving on the selection committee.