Honoring Motherhood: The Mothers of Nonnewaug


Photo Courtesy of Laurenn Bertoglio, Collected by Editor Gillian Brown

Laurenn Bertoglio, NHS math teacher and dedicated mother of four, featured with her beautiful family.

Gillian Brown, Activities & Academics Editor

Publisher’s Note: Collected by Advocate Editor Gillian Brown, the following article is a compilation of stories from some of Nonnewaug’s amazing mothers.

The NHS Chief Advocate honors all the wonderful mothers within the Nonnewaug community.

Thank you for all that you do! 


Marisa Christoff, History/Social Studies Teacher, Department Chair 

Mother of Three

Marissa Christoff, NHS History/Social Studies teacher and Department Chair and amazing mother of three, featured with her family.

“My children fight like most siblings do, about nonsense stuff most of the time, like who had the toy first. But a couple weeks ago, my son came home from school, and I didn’t know this, but I guess my son was carrying my daughter’s [Lila] – who’s in kindergarten this year – her book bag at the end of the day. And when they wait in line to be picked up there’s only a certain number of chairs, and he lets Lila sit while they’re waiting. One of the teachers I know just told me this; I had no idea that he was like that at school, so nurturing to her, and that made me proud. Even though they fight, and they do the normal sibling thing, they watch out for each other, and they care and they love one another. So I’ve gotta be doing something right as a mom if they obviously care for each other that much. When I see that, when their kindness comes out, when their empathy comes out, that’s when I’m the most proud as a mom.”


What is the best/most rewarding part of being a mother?

“Seeing my kids smile, seeing my kids thrive, seeing them play together, seeing them experience new things, seeing them enjoy life, seeing them love one another, their siblings, and their family. Just seeing my children thrive and be happy is the most rewarding part of motherhood.”


What is the most difficult part of being a mother?

“My kids are little; they range from six to ten, and the most difficult part, I would say, is disciplining them and trying to show them that what’s fun all the time is not necessarily the best thing for them all the time. So that’s the hardest thing, I think, disciplining them so that they start to understand that I’m not being ‘mean mommy’; I’m just trying to do what’s best for them. Like when they get upset when they have to get off their tablets or when they can’t drink soda, I’m trying to teach them that I’m caring for them, and I’m trying to teach them the right things. I’m trying to teach them lessons rather than teach them a lesson.”


Listen to your mothers. They usually know what’s best for you. 


Laurenn Bertoglio, Math Teacher

Mother of Four

Laurenn Bertoglio, NHS math teacher and dedicated mother of four, featured with her beautiful family.

“My proudest moment was honestly when Dina, my daughter, had her baby. She never wanted to have kids before, and she had a really hard time having the baby; it was very difficult for her. So when she finally did, it was a very proud moment. When you see them creating life themselves, it’s a wonderful thing.” 


What does motherhood mean to you?

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot since my daughter just had a baby, and it is going to be her first Mother’s Day. You feel like you’re responsible for raising them into good people. You want them to be happy and successful, but it’s also just constant worry. You are constantly worried about them, but I can’t imagine my life without them.” 


What is the best/most rewarding part of being a mother?

“When they thank you, I think. I was a single mother for a long time when I raised my two daughters, and my oldest called me recently and thanked me for how I raised them and for the job I did. So when they thank you is just very rewarding.” 


Thank your mothers. They deserve to hear it.


Rebecca Trzaski, History/Social Studies Teacher

Mother of Two

Rebecca Trzaski, History/Social Studies teacher and proud mom of two, featured with her family in the ultimate portrait of motherhood.

“I had been told that I couldn’t have children. So when my husband and I got married, we were under the impression that I could not have kids because I had had so many different health issues. But we’d been married a few years, and my doctor told us that if we wanted to have children, they could help us have children. And so we just kind of said, ‘sure, yes, we’ll have kids.’ And I don’t know if it was because we had thought for so long that we couldn’t have kids, that all of a sudden it was like, ‘wow, we can have children… .’ I didn’t think I would ever be a mother, and then when I was given the opportunity, I was incredibly grateful for it. Maybe that’s why I put in so much effort, because I know that it was something I almost didn’t have.” 


What is a time in your life when you were proudest to be a mother? 

“My daughter is just so kind and caring. One day I got an email from a teacher that said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that Kaitlyn went up to the new girl in class and sat with her during lunch.’ And she was in maybe first grade then; she was young. But just to know that she had that in her. When I asked her about it when she got home, she said that, ‘I thought about what it would be like if I didn’t know anybody, and I wanted her to know that she’s not alone.’ The way she has begun to tackle challenges is very inspiring. So that is just cool to be able to watch, watch her work hard for things even when they’re not easy and just watch her starting to find her own passions in life.”


What is the best/most rewarding part of being a mother?

“Definitely watching them grow up, watching them become their own unique little individuals. Especially since my daughter is almost ten now, she has goals and dreams and her own personality, and I’m just really proud of who she is becoming. How hardworking she is, how intelligent she is, how kind she is, how thoughtful. So watching her ‘become’ and grow has been really fun and exciting.”


What does motherhood mean to you? 

“I think motherhood, probably a lot like just parenting in general, is giving your child the tools and skills that they need in order to lead a happy life. Trying to let them know that no matter what, they are loved, unconditionally. If they screw up, I’m still going to be there to help them out. If they need emotional support, especially with my kids who are so young, just teaching them how to regulate their emotions. Trying to give them those tools for their life. I think that’s what parenthood is in general, just giving them the skills and the love and support they need to live their best life.”


Appreciate your mothers, they do their best for you. 


Melissa Hodges, Science Teacher 

Mother of Two

Melissa Hodges, Science teacher and hard-working mother of two, featured with her wonderful little humans.

“I guess my goal of motherhood is just to raise good human beings, so that’s probably what it means to me … taking little people that I made and helping them grow into good human beings who care about other people and the world around them.” 


What is a time in your life when you were proudest to be a mother? 

“Every Wednesday, Sandy Hook releases early, so my eight-year-old daughter ends up going to my son’s daycare for after-school care. And every week when I get there, the people that are in charge tell me, ‘Thank you so much for sending Carleigh here; she’s such a kind little girl.’ And again that goes back to my goal of being a mother – to raise good people. So every week when I pick her up, I get that reassurance that is actually happening and that she is just a good person.”


Was there a specific moment in your life when you knew you wanted to be a mother?

“Being a teacher to me is kind of like being a mother. I walk into school and they are my non-biological children. So I think from the onset of being a teacher, I’ve always wanted to be a mother. I have my biological two at home, and then I have hundreds of non-biological children. So my wanting to be a mother really started as soon as I wanted to be a teacher.” 


What is the best/most rewarding part of being a mother?

“When they randomly tell me, ‘I love you, Mom.’ And mine are little still – they’re five and eight – so randomly I’ll just get, ‘Mommy, I love you,’ just out of nowhere, and that just makes your heart smile.”


Remind your mothers you love them.  


Mothers are resilient, kind, and help us become the best versions of ourselves. This Mother’s Day, appreciate mothers and all that they do for us. 


Advocate Editor Gillian Brown with her mother, Michelle Brown.