As we reflect back on 2011, we are reminded of the fragile nature of our economy and our personal lives. We have been tested; financial challenges at every level; daily market volatility and uncertainly; multiple weather and power disruptions; personal health issues; and enormous grief from the passing of dear friends and loved ones.

Yet as we confronted each crisis, I have been struck by the compassion and generosity of the people of our communities. The goodness of our human nature was on display everywhere.

When government or power companies lagged in their responsiveness or effectiveness, it was neighbor reaching out to neighbor that saved the day. Community centers, libraries, YMCA's, churches, synagogues, schools, food pantries and small business owners became resourceful and opened their doors, their showers and their kitchens to the public.

We now look to a New Year. There is no question that there were deep divides in the legislature on 2011 budget and tax policies that continue to disturb many of us today. However, it is with some measure of optimism that I look forward to the 2012 legislative session.

It should be the year of agreement and teamwork on one of the themes that drives my public service-- education.

I would like to see the General Assembly and the administration set aside their differences for the sake of our children and focus intensely on education reform -- free from the constraints of special interests.

We should all resolve to dedicate ourselves in doing everything possible to seriously address the widest-in-the-nation achievement gap and work relentlessly to have every one of our children reach their full potential. We need to send a strong message that we care about our children's intellectual, mental, and physical well being. Our youth are our best resource and represent the future of our state. Only through literacy can one truly participate in our system of government and contribute to our economy.

As our great President Abraham Lincoln said, "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."

When we look back on 2012, I would like Connecticut to be proud of a General Assembly and administration that had the courage to make the meaningful changes necessary to raise our educational system back up to number one in the nation.

Through tears and smiles and as we hold our loved ones near, we remember and honor all those that have passed this year who have enriched our lives and our communities by their presence and contributions.

I send to you the very best wishes for a safe, healthy, and enjoyable holiday season.

State Sen. Toni Boucher

Wilton