Many schools around Connecticut are closed tomorrow in observance of Veterans Day, which is why schools around the state honored Veterans and taught students about their service on Friday. From school-wide assemblies to classroom visits by students’ family members who are Veterans, below are some of the ways schools have been honoring Veterans.
Brooklyn Elementary School fourth grade teacher Sean Maloney, a fan of Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams, has turned part of his four-acre Woodstock property into a replica of Fenway Park—Red Sox championship banners, scoreboard, stadium lights, and all.
True to the movie’s memorable line—If you build it, he will come—Maloney’s own ballfield has attracted everyone from Little Leaguers to retired Major League pitchers.
“I built the Wiffle ball field in 2016,” says Maloney. “I wanted my house to be a place where all my kids’ friends wanted to hang out.” His three children—sons Hayden (9) and Tristen (8) and daughter Teagan (8)—all play sports. Read more
Teacher Kelly Shea greets community members at Enfield’s Family Fun Festival, where teachers distributed 1,400 free children’s books.
Enfield’s teachers are on a mission to create bookworms in their community.
For the second year in a row, the Enfield Teachers’ Association (ETA) is adding to local families’ libraries through its community outreach efforts.
After the ETA put out a request for books, teachers collected 1,410 gently used titles for young children and adolescents through teacher donations as well as leftovers from the library of a recently closed school. The ETA beat last year’s inaugural record of 1,000 books collected.
Teachers were able to round up the books within two weeks, said Prudence Crandall School teacher and building rep Kelly Shea, who chaired the event. Over four nights, volunteers sorted the selections by grade level and genre and packed trios of books into large Ziploc bags labeled with the age range. The packets, suitable for kindergarten through high school, were handed out to children and families in late September at Enfield’s Family Fun Festival. Read more
What does your union mean to you? Fairfield Ludlowe High School teacher Sara Goepfrich, who serves as a building rep in her school, says it’s easy to be an island in your own classroom and do your own thing, but that approach doesn’t work so well when it comes to protecting teachers’ rights and securing resources for students.
“The union is not some entity outside of ourselves. The union is everyone we work with, it’s us, and through our union we can advocate for our needs and for our students’ needs,” says Goepfrich. “Unions give a voice to our profession to allow us to advocate for what students need to be successful in the classroom. They also create a support system for new teachers to ask questions and gain support in a non-evaluative way. Unions allow us to advocate for things that are unpopular but really necessary for students. Things that administrators might push back against or that might be seen as making waves.” Read more
Just two weeks ago, Plainfield Memorial School students and teachers had no idea where they’d be starting their school year after a fire caused extensive damage to their school building. Yet, thanks to the generosity, hard work, and dedication of a community pulling together, 350 fourth and fifth graders are back at school today with their teachers, ready for the year ahead.
“These two weeks have taught me something about kindness I’ll never forget,” says principal Natasha Hutchinson.
“Our whole school initiative is talking about grit. Boy, have we shown grit,” says fifth grade teacher Jessica Phaneuf.
When Jessica Phaneuf found that the classroom she’d be using with her fourth graders lacked cabinet doors, she quickly improvised a solution.
Long before #ProtectDreamers was trending, students in Amy Claffey’s Spanish classes at Old Saybrook High School were learning about the vast hurdles undocumented people face—and the misconceptions surrounding them in the communities where they live. In an effort to educate their school about immigrants from Mexico and Central America, Claffey’s students, with help from high school library/media specialist Christine Bairos, completed a project that brought greater awareness of immigration issues to their peers and the wider community.
With help from teachers Christine Bairos (left) and Amy Claffey (right), Old Saybrook students pursue questions about immigration.
The football equipment necessary to ensure students’ safety can be expensive, and in a district like Waterbury, funding for sports programs is in short supply. “I fill out a lot of funding applications from all kinds of sources, and I often don’t hear back,” says Crosby High School Head Football Coach David Jurewicz, a technology education teacher at the school.
The Waterbury Teachers Association member was therefore thrilled today when, at what he thought was to be a routine staff meeting, he was surprised with a $1,000 athletic grant from California Casualty.
“This is going to help the team out tremendously,” says Jurewicz. “It will go a long way toward getting us the equipment we need.”
A technology teacher and the Head Football Coach at Crosby High School in Waterbury, David Jurewicz poses with Principal Jade Gopie next to student artwork depicting the school’s mascot.
Building reps are often a teacher’s first point of contact when questions arise—ranging from practical matters to sensitive subjects. They are their colleagues’ contract enforcer, organizer, and spokesperson.
A building rep’s job is vital, but it’s time-consuming, and often receives little thanks.
That’s why, here at CEA, we’re recognizing building reps around the state for their dedication to their colleagues and their willingness to devote time out of their busy schedules to this important job.
Building Rep Ricardo Gibson has been a physical education and health teacher at Reed School in Waterbury for six years, but this is his first year as a building rep. Read more
NEA Today is featuring retired educators who are still making a difference—and one of those highlighted is Connecticut’s own Jon-Paul Roden. A former CEA-Retired president, Roden was recently elected to his second term on the NEA-Retired Executive Council.
Read about Roden’s continuing contributions to the teaching profession below.
Computer Science Teacher, Vernon, Connecticut
When Jon-Paul Roden started teaching in 1965, he needed to take on a second job to help supplement his income. This side job, along with others, made him eligible for Social Security benefits when he retired in 2000. His colleagues who didn’t take outside work and had only teaching pensions were left without a Social Security benefit, and most importantly, the Medicare Part B coverage. Read more