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Mortgage Assistance Program for Teachers

2015-07-17_14-53-05Are you looking to buy a home? If you’re considering buying in certain districts or you teach in a shortage area, check out the Connecticut Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program.

The Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program offers home loans at below-market interest rates to Connecticut public school teachers. To be eligible for the program, you must be employed as a Connecticut-certified public school teacher or a certified regional vocational-technical teacher. You must also be a first-time homebuyer unless you purchase a home in a federally targeted area.

Click here to find out if you quality for the Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program.

Read the program fact sheet.

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority website offers information on this and other mortgage programs, a list of participating lenders, targeted areas of the state, subject matter shortage areas, and priority and transitional school districts.

NOTE: Information effective until June 30, 2016.

West Hartford Education Association: 50 Years Working Together


Active and retired West Hartford Education Association members and their guests came together at the Noah Webster House Friday night to celebrate their union’s 50th anniversary. At the podium is WHEA President Ted Goerner.

West Hartford has a long reputation as a town with great public schools. On Friday night, West Hartford Education Association members gathered together to celebrate what they say plays a large part in the success of West Hartford Public Schools—the strength of their union.

This month marks 50 years since West Hartford teachers selected the West Hartford Education Association (WHEA) as their sole representative in negotiations before the board of education under Connecticut’s recently passed collective bargaining law. The WHEA began as a professional organization of teachers back in the 1920s, but it wasn’t able to have a decisive voice in advocating on behalf of students and teachers until Connecticut teachers gained those bargaining rights.

The WHEA only recently unearthed valuable documents related to the 50-year milestone thanks to Town Historian Tracey Wilson. Wilson, a recently retired West Hartford teacher, was working on another West Hartford history project when she discovered the newspaper clipping documenting West Hartford educators’ selection of the WHEA as their bargaining agent. (Click here to read the WHEA’s first contract.) Read more

Thanksgiving Ideas for the Classroom

Celebrate the Thanksgiving season in the classroom and at home with interdisciplinary lesson plans, quizzes, activities, games, trivia, books, and movies compiled by Phil Nast for NEA.

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10 Smart Ideas to Stretch Your Holiday Budget

The holidays can be tough on an educator’s wallet, but with these 10 tips from NEA Member Benefits, you can give more and spend less.

If you’re tempted to apply for a loan to finance the winter holidays, you’re not alone. Individual shoppers spent an average of over $800 during the 2014 season, according to the National Retail Federation.

Where did it all go? An estimated $459 was spent on gifts for family members and $80 on gifts for friends; nearly $105 on food; just under $54 on decorations; and about $29 on greeting cards, among other goodies.

All of that can add up to a major burden on an educator’s salary. Consider these budget-friendly tips to take the sting out of your holiday spending:
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Lessons, Activities, and Resources for Exploring Native American Cultures

One resource lets students in grades 6-12 explore the world of the Ancestral Pueblo people of New Mexico.

One resource lets students in grades 6-12 explore the world of the Ancestral Pueblo people of New Mexico.

November is Native American Heritage Month and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Historians estimate that the population of the Western Hemisphere prior to the arrival of Europeans ranged from 8 million to more than 100 million. Cultures varied widely from the Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula to the nomadic Plains Indians in North America.

Explore Native American cultures with the following lessons, activities, and resources compiled by Phil Nast for NEA.

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Building Meaningful Relationships Between School and Home

Speaker Anne Henderson listens to educators and parent and community leaders at a forum tonight in Rocky Hill.

Presenter Anne Henderson, standing, invites input from educators and parent and community leaders at a forum in Rocky Hill.

Successfully engaging families and communities is one of the most important means schools have of ensuring student success, yet community engagement frequently isn’t the priority it deserves to be. Today, on American Education Week’s Parents Day, we look back at the information author and parent engagement expert Anne Henderson shared at a CEA sponsored forum on how to change that school-home relationship.

Henderson, a co-author of Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family/School Partnerships, was the keynote speaker at a forum titled Welcoming Schools: How to have effective two-way communications, held for teachers and community members in Rocky Hill in 2013.

According to Henderson’s definition, successful parent engagement isn’t simply about recruiting parents for fundraisers or holding parenting workshops—instead the key is building meaningful relationships. Read more

Celebrating American Education Week

American Education Week 2015“Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility” is the theme of American Education Week this year. Today through Friday people across the United States have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference and ensuring that every child receives a quality education.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “Great public schools are a fundamental right for each and every child in America, regardless of zip code. From early childhood through grade 12 and beyond, our communities must continue to work together with teachers to ensure every student has access to the very best public education possible.”

Cohen continued, “While American Education Week offers opportunities to commend the hard work and success of students and teachers, it also reminds everyone how important it is to support public education every day. This positive spirit is essential if we are to provide every public school student with the high-quality educational opportunities she/he deserves.”

According to Cohen, school success is about much more than data—much more than test results—much, much more. “Every day in public schools, students grow and learn. Every day there are more teachable moments than can be counted. There is more professionalism, perseverance, care, love, outreach, and hard work than words can ever communicate. Today and every day, I am so proud to applaud Connecticut’s dedicated public school teachers.”

Nominate a Colleague for CEA’s Human and Civil Rights Awards

Why do we celebrate excellence? Educators live in a world filled with challenges and threats to their profession and their schools. But in spite of these challenges, educators find innovative ways to support and influence students and public education.

CEA’s Human and Civil Rights Awards provide an opportunity to acknowledge these dedicated and diverse men and women for advancing human and civil rights, and standing up for public schools.

Honor an individual with a nomination for a CEA Human and Civil Rights Award.

Categories include:

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Veterans Day Lesson Plans, Activities, and Resources

Veterans DayOn November 11, we honor the wartime service and sacrifice of men and women in the armed forces. Originally proclaimed Armistice Day in 1919 to commemorate the end of World War I, Veterans Day was established in 1954 to include American veterans of all wars.

The following lessons, activities, games, and resources compiled by Phil Nast for NEA will help your students celebrate service men and women past and present.

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Corporate Program for Disadvantaged Children Under Fire

An experimental preschool program for low-income students, funded by Goldman Sachs, is drawing criticism. The program is geared toward helping underprivileged students in Utah, but it makes money for investors based on the number of “at-risk” students who avoid special education in kindergarten.

While some are calling the program a success, reporter Nathaniel Popper’s article, “Success Metrics Questioned in School Program Funded by Goldman,” uncovered questions regarding whether the program actually achieved the success that was claimed.

Nine early-education experts who reviewed the program for The New York Times quickly identified a number of irregularities in how the program’s success was measured, which seem to have led Goldman and the state to significantly overstate the effect that the investment had achieved in helping young children avoid special education.

Goldman said its investment had helped almost 99 percent of the Utah children it was tracking avoid special education in kindergarten. The bank received a payment for each of those children.
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