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Teachers Refresh and Reflect at CEA Summer Conference

From negotiations to teacher evaluation to citizen lobbying and much more, more than 500 CEA members took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about their union and their profession at the CEA Summer Conference this Monday and Tuesday.

A large group of Windsor Education Association members attended this year’s CEA Summer Conference.

“Everything was a 10—the professional development was top notch,” says Avon Education Association President Jonathan Moss.

“I am going to be a building rep for the first time this year and came to the Summer Conference for free training on what to do. It was awesome,” says East Windsor teacher Stephanie Schneider.

Schneider says a coworker invited her to a union meeting at the end of last school year and recruited her take on the building rep role. “I’m so glad that I was able to attend and get useful information so I am not overwhelmed. I didn’t realize that CEA has so much information available to me.”

Teachers at CEA’s Summer Conference learned how to become citizen lobbyists from former state Sen. Jonathan Harris, a senior adviser to Governor Lamont, Representative Robin Comey, and Senator Gary Winfield.

“I have been attending for several years and always get new perspectives and ideas by going to different sessions,” says Putnam teacher Kris Allard. This year she especially enjoyed tracks on communicating with local association members and the media. “It was eye opening to see how to interact with the media. Now we know what it entails if we decide to do something that requires media.”

Tori Zinno, a teacher at Norwich Free Academy, attended Summer Conference for the first time this year and is already looking forward to coming back to learn more next year.

“I am thinking about becoming a building rep so going to the Building Reps/Emerging Leaders session was informative,” Zinno says. “I learned so much over the past two days. The facilitators were great, and they even had my school contract in my binder so that I could relate the topic directly to my district, making it so very relevant.”

Teachers in a session on building a more powerful union discussed a number of strategies to build relationships and bring members together.

Bolton teacher Abbey Sacco says she has done yoga for a long time, but signed up for a mini-session titled Let Go of Your Stress because she wanted to learn more about meditation.

“I really liked the tai chi—I hadn’t done that before,” Sacco says. “I found the movement was useful for not constantly over thinking while meditating.”

Sacco adds, “Right now teachers are really struggling with self care, so learning techniques to take time for ourselves to feel more energized and fight teacher burnout is very helpful.”

Members had a chance to try out meditation, tai chi, and yoga in a session on letting go of stress.

“This is my second year attending. I went to the retirement workshop and it was awesome,” says Bridgeport teacher Stephanie Mitchell. “It kept my attention and was detailed and informative. I learned so much—I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

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