Educator Spotlight: Robert Lalla

Network Collaboration and Learning

Throughout the year, RISE will be shining a light on some of the many talented educators we partner with to achieve our mission of ensuring all students graduate with a plan and the skills and confidence to achieve college and career success.

This month we learn more about Robert Lalla, Special Education teacher and Summer Melt Coordinator at Maloney High School in Meriden.


Q: What led you to get into the field of education?

My Father was a teacher at Naugatuck High School. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher/educator. During the summer, I would go with him to school and sit in his Tech Ed or “Industrial Arts” class. I even learned how to swim in the Naugatuck H.S. Pool. They were a powerhouse in swimming in the 80’s and 90’s.

Q: Why did you choose to become an educator?

Knowing and watching my Dad engage with at-risk students was always a positive.

Q: Who was an educator that inspired and shaped you?

Without question, my Father. He was also an educator, as well as a Marine in Vietnam, and an Airman in the Gulf War. He instilled in me to serve my community, shared his love for this nation, and taught me to travel and learn about new cultures and countries. We always traveled and learned about many different cultures and countries growing up. I now do the same for my own kids.

Q: What’s one of your proudest accomplishments as an educator?

This is a hard one, but receiving personal invitations to graduation from past students is the most important and impactful. For many years I taught at the elementary level and students would write you about the memories they had so many years prior. Watching them grow into model citizens is powerful and makes me proud.

Q: What is something you’ve learned/borrowed from another RISE Network partner?

Using the Hub and data-driven instruction, but more importantly, how to target at-risk students. For example, our AP ran a report for at-risk seniors. This helped support them through a learning space that specializes in this group of seniors.

Q: How does the RISE Data Hub change your daily practice and help you achieve your student outcome goals?

RISE’s investment in technology and making it intuitive for the user is evident. The usability of front-end software is critical to the educator and teacher on the ground. If the software is cryptic and hard to use an educator will avoid it. This is not the case with the Hub. For example, color schemes, drop-down boxes, and fronts are precise. Cleary, RISE sought the advice of teachers and educators on the ground who meet with students daily. The software needs fast, precise, and easy-to-navigate data software. The Hub has done all these things and RISE is still innovating.

Q: Can you share with us a professional and a personal fun fact?

I have served my community at the level of government. I am an Afghanistan combat veteran, having served in the U.S. Army for three years. I was a Lifeguard Supervisor for DEEP and I also worked at MPS and Southington Public Schools. On a personal note, I’ve run 20 Marathons in 20 different states.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

I have two teenagers at home who are active in sports, band, and drama. They both love music and our family loves attending concerts. We’ll be heading to Poland for a Taylor Swift concert this summer. Coaching Cross Country at Maloney keeps me busy, but my true passion is open-water swimming in lakes of Connecticut and the region. I’m a member of an Open Water Swim club out of Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury, CT and you can find me there in the summer.