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Childhood dream results in recognition as Seymour Teacher of the Year for alumna Mallory Knutson

2022-23 Seymour Teacher of the Year Mallory Knutson with her family
2022-23 Seymour Teacher of the Year Mallory Knutson
2022-23 Seymour Teacher of the Year Mallory Knutson

DANBURY, Connecticut — Ask most elementary schoolers what they want to be when they grow up, and you’re likely to get implausible answers like “superhero.” But if you had asked Mallory Knutson when she was 6 or 7, she would have emphatically told you that she wanted to be a teacher.

“I was inspired by my first grade teacher, Diane Trevelin,” Knutson said. “She made learning fun, but challenging. She always meant business.”

Knutson grew up in Seymour and graduated from Seymour High School in 2002. Twenty years later, the third grade teacher at Bungay School was named Seymour’s 2022-23 Teacher of the Year. Part of the journey from her childhood dream to this honor included a Bachelor of Arts in Education with a focus on Communication from Western Connecticut State University in 2007.

When deciding where to work toward her goal after high school, Knutson had options. “Knowing I wanted to go to college for education narrowed my considerations for colleges to Connecticut,” she said. “I also was an athlete and that played an important role in my choice. I was offered an athletic scholarship to another state university for softball, but after visiting WCSU and meeting Coach Alicia O’Brien, I knew WCSU was the perfect fit for me. I loved the on-campus atmosphere, I loved that it was close enough to go home, but far enough to live on campus. I loved that the softball program was competitive, yet I could still put a lot of focus on my education without feeling overwhelmed.”

Mallory Knutson at her 2007 WCSU Commencement Ceremony
Mallory Knutson at her 2007 WCSU Commencement Ceremony

Knutson explained that the keys to balancing softball and academics were effective time management and hard work. “Being a student-athlete isn’t easy,” she said. “The demands for the game and academics are challenging. I also worked two jobs: on-campus and retail, while maintaining social relationships. It taught me to prioritize the important things in life and to work hard for what I wanted to achieve.” She said she still relies on these skills as a teacher today.

In addition to the life lessons she obtained as a WCSU student-athlete, Knutson said there were other huge impacts on her life, including the friendships she made and the fact that she met her husband on campus.

“I am still in close contact with my college roommates,” she said. “One of them even lives in the same town and we have pups from the same litter. We hang out when our crazy schedules align. We have been in each other’s weddings and have been there for each other as we built our families. My husband and I met in a class at WCSU and started dating my junior year in 2005. We have been married for 12 years.”

Mallory Knutson with her family
Mallory Knutson with her family

Upon being notified that she had been selected Seymour’s Teacher of the Year, Knutson said, “It’s funny because at first, I was speechless (and I am never speechless). Finding the right words for such a high accomplishment took a little time. But Seymour has ALWAYS been a special place for me, and I think that is what made receiving this award even more incredible. Growing up in Seymour has blessed me with many great memories. From my first grade teacher who is the reason I became a teacher, to being a part of the Seymour High School softball state championship team in 2000 and then landing my first teaching position in Seymour 16 years ago. I think this connection to my hometown is what made this achievement so remarkable. To be able to represent my hometown community as Teacher of the Year was very special. It is a recognition of my hard work and dedication to my students, families, school district and community over the last 16 years. It’s like going to the big dance in basketball or the feeling of winning that championship game.”

While not everyone may know early on what they want to do for a living like Knutson did, she still believes that her time at WCSU contributed to fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming an award-winning teacher.

“Attending WCSU will change your life, and for the best! It is the perfect place to develop lifelong friendships and relationships, and to challenge yourself academically and gain valuable learning experience,” Knutson said. “It is a great opportunity for athletes to still play competitively and it is a great place to foster independence and allow you to grow individually. Attending WCSU has really been one of the best decisions I ever made. Trust me, it’s a decision you won’t regret!”


Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.