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Welcome Back to School

A message to teachers from CEA President Sheila Cohen

Another school year means another year to have the honor, the opportunity, as well as the responsibility, to touch the “tomorrows” of your students.

CEA President Sheila Cohen offers her thanks this Teacher Appreciation Day.

CEA President Sheila Cohen.

In my life, it was my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Crowley, who lit a spark in me. She helped me to see possibilities in music and theater as well as teaching as a career. I think of her often, as I’m sure you remember stand-out teachers in your personal life.

Teachers are extraordinary people. We are like-minded in our passion for helping students succeed. And our union provides the opportunity for us to come together for students, teachers, and public education. Read more

Back to School Resources for Teachers

back to schoolTeachers and students are heading back to school! NEA editors have compiled a list of some of the best articles and resources to help you—whether new or veteran—be ready for the fall semester.

Classroom Setup

Creative Classrooms on a Budget
Take a walk through the elementary, middle, and high school classrooms of three DIY divas for ideas on how to create your own inspiring, efficient, and thrifty space.

Classroom Setups
Mastering the art of arrangement can make all the difference in your classroom. Read more

Woodstock Teacher Brings Lessons from Africa Back to Her Students

Woodstock Academy biology teacher Valerie May.

Woodstock Academy biology teacher Valerie May holds a darkling beetle she collected at the Mozambican national park. The insect uses its exoskeleton to collect dew, allowing it to live in very dry environments. (Photos courtesy of Valerie May.)

It was an incredible opportunity—spend ten days in and around Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park leading a professional development course and learning about the park and its mission. Woodstock Academy biology teacher Valerie May jumped at the chance.

“It was a big honor to be asked to lead the workshop,” May said.

May has worked with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the past four years, leading workshops at national conferences and running workshops in several cities around the country. The organization is clearly impressed by May as they invited her and two other public school teachers, Cindy Gay from Colorado and Ann Brokaw of Ohio, to lead a two-day workshop in Mozambique this summer. Read more

Start the New School Year Strong with Tips and Ideas from NEA Member Benefits

NEA MB back to school 16Visit to find the resources you need to prepare your classroom and yourself as you get ready to head back to school:

  • Classroom organization project ideas: Get inspired to organize your room with these clever projects! Watch as a professional organizer helps 3 teachers create functional classrooms—and get ideas to spruce up your own space.
  • Classroom management advice: Find expert answers to NEA members’ toughest classroom management challenges so you can start the new school year on the right foot.
  • Tips to create a positive work-life balance: Get ideas on ways to manage your school day, your work relationships, and your own health.
  • Savings just for educators: Access special discounts that’ll help keep more money in your pocket as you shop for your back-to-school essentials.

Visit today to get your back-to-school resources!

Data is State Priority

Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell addressed superintendents at a back-to-school meeting this morning at A.I. Prince Technical High School.

Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell addressed superintendents at a back-to-school meeting this morning at A.I. Prince Technical High School.

The state Mastery Examination Committee is scheduled to meet again on September 21 as it prepares to answer key questions posed by the General Assembly, including whether Connecticut’s Mastery Examinations, and in particular SBAC, respond to student needs and inform teachers of student progress.

In the meantime, Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell told superintendents gathered for an annual back-to-school meeting this morning that her department continues to pore through the voluminous data provided by SBAC. She pointed to what she called a source of pride—SBAC scores in half of the Alliance Districts grew at a faster rate than did the state’s SBAC scores overall between 2014-15 and 2015-16. Read more

Broadway Experience Inspires Cheshire Teacher

Teachers, including Cheshire's Dawn DeMeo, were able to talk with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda during the Broadway Teachers Workshop this summer. (Photos contributed by DeMeo.)

Teachers, including Cheshire’s Dawn DeMeo, were able to talk with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda during the Broadway Teachers Workshop this summer. (Photos by DeMeo.)

Hamilton is the most exclusive show on Broadway, yet Cheshire English teacher Dawn DeMeo was able to join a couple hundred other teachers to not only see the show, but talk to its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, earlier this summer.

Both opportunities were thanks to the Broadway Teachers Workshop, which aims to inspire teachers and directors of school theater productions with “new teaching methods, enhanced production skills and an exchange of ideas with peers and professional Broadway artists.” Read more

Coming this Fall: CEA Retirement Workshops for Teachers

img_robyn-kaplan-choWant to learn more about planning for retirement? Comprehensive CEA workshops held around the state cover all issues related to the State Teachers’ Retirement System, such as retirement eligibility, purchasing additional service, how Social Security may be affected, retiree health insurance, and choosing a retirement plan.

CEA Retirement Specialist Robyn Kaplan-Cho will cover a wide range of issues and offer time for questions following the presentation. The workshops are held at various locations around the state throughout the fall and in the early spring.

Any active CEA member who wishes to begin planning for retirement is encouraged to attend a workshop. It is never too early to educate yourself!

Click here for more information and to register for a workshop.

Diversity in School is Key to Achieving Equity and Student Success

“Schools save lives and make a difference. School saved my life,” U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr., told more than 200 community members, parents, teachers, students, and policymakers gathered in Hartford today.


U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr., (right) and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy discussed diversity in schools at a roundtable in Hartford

King joined U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal to draw attention to the need to increase diversity in schools to drive positive student outcomes in school and in life.

The Education Secretary said schools are facing many challenges, including a lack of diversity, and more must be done to find solutions to make them diverse and successful. Read more

Underestimating Inequality in Schools

student in hallwayWhen it comes to public schools, we generally measure student poverty by looking at the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. According to a recent piece in The New York Times, however, looking at students eligible for subsidized meals as a homogeneous group severely underestimates the achievement and opportunity gaps.

Susan Dynarski, a professor at the University of Michigan, looked at data from her state and found that, although approximately half of eighth-graders are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, only 14 percent had been eligible every year since kindergarten.

Dynarski writes, Read more

CEA Advisor Showcases Student, Teacher Innovation and More

innovation on display, summer

From a 3-D printed boot for a disabled Mystic Aquarium penguin to environmentally friendly ice melt to a solar house design, students and teachers from across the state showcased innovative ways they are using technology in the classroom to promote teaching and learning.

Read about these technology-driven projects and much more in the summer issue of the CEA Advisor, an online-only edition.

Other articles featured in this issue include


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