Back-to-School Means Time to Reconnect With Fellow Union Members for Windsor Teachers
“This is a great way to start the year off right,” said Clover Street Intermediate reading teacher Terri Faucher, who gathered with her fellow Windsor Education Association members for a social earlier this week at Carbone’s Kitchen in Bloomfield on Windsor teachers’ first day back at school.
WEA members who attended agreed it was the perfect way to reconnect. The local has tried hosting socials at other points in the year and found that many teachers have too many other commitments to be able to attend.
“After today, teachers are so busy that we seldom get a chance to catch up with one another,” says WEA Co-President Andrea Kay, a high school math teacher. “It’s great to be able to hear from other teachers what works in other buildings and learn from other teachers.”
WEA Co-President Miriam Klein says that the local also organized the social to allow members an opportunity to meet and network with CEA leaders and staff, including CEA President Jeff Leake, Organizer Joe Zawawi, and Teacher Development Specialist Kate Field, who has been assisting the WEA with teacher evaluation issues.
“Our members need to know these are the folks who are in the field all the time, working on their behalf,” says Klein, a district literacy specialist.
Leake said he enjoyed the opportunity to get to talk with Windsor teachers he hadn’t met before.
“I heard from some members who are interested in getting more involved with CEA, at all levels of the association,” he said.
Klein and Kay both say they’re looking to get more members involved with the WEA this year. “We hope to have more members involved with CEA committees and commissions,” says Kay, adding that last year the local started its own ethnic minority affairs commission as another avenue for member involvement.
Looking to the year ahead
WEA members are focused on how they can best support students when they welcome them back to school September 4.
Oletha Walker, a John F. Kennedy Intermediate challenge resource teacher, says “I’m looking forward to being able to introduce students’ minds to new ideas. I want to push them beyond what they think they can accomplish.”
JFK third grade STEM teacher Dalia Ghanesh-May is excited to share with her colleagues all that she learned on a trip to Ghana this summer—and to let them know that they too could have an inspiring international learning experience. Ghanesh-May recieved funding for a trip to Ghana through the Dalio Foundation’s Fund for Teachers in 2017, and she returned this summer to teach at Ebenezer Christian School and offer professional development for teachers at the University of Ghana.
“Classrooms in Ghana still have desks in rows,” she says, explaining that teachers there are eager for new, innovative instructional ideas.
Ghenesh-May was first inspired to head to Ghana after starting the Empowered Leadership Academy for young men at JFK with the goal of building their academic potential and conflict resolution skills and increasing their connections to their community.
“I wanted to connect the boys to something that would empower them, that I could come back and teach them about,” says Ghanesh-May. And she did just that after studying the design and weaving of kente cloth in Ghana. The fabric, made of interwoven cloth strips, is challenging to create and was once considered royal and sacred. It is now an important symbol of African heritage and pride in African ancestry
Anne Caselli and Lynn Devito who also teach at JFK are happy that their school has hired a behavior specialist this year.
“We’ve been asking for the position for several years,” says Devito, a special ed teacher. Caselli, a fourth grade math teacher, says, “It seems like our new behavior specialist will be an amazing asset to the school and a really positive male role model.”
High School alternative education special ed teacher Leighann Tyson wants to open her students’ eyes to the many possibilities that exist for them after high school in addition to college. “We’re going to be out of trades people in 10-15 years,” Tyson says. “We need to offer more supports for kids who want to apply to trade schools and the like.”
Business teacher Gloria Wellington says she sees a need to teach all high school students more practical skills. “When they leave my class students know how to do their taxes and evaluate credit card offers,” she says. “As a retired banker, it’s inspiring when I hear from former students, ‘I’m a CPA because of you, Mrs. Wellington.'”