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Posts from the ‘Member Stories’ Category

Disrupted Learning: Oregon Teachers Share Their Stories, and You Can Too

There’s a crisis of disrupted learning not just in Connecticut, but across the U.S., and the Oregon Education Association today released a report on the conditions students and educators are facing in schools.

Some Oregon teachers talked to a local news station about the disruptions they face daily.

Teachers in Connecticut experience many of these same situations, but legislators are unaware of the severity and pervasiveness of the problem.

Share your own story (anonymously if you so choose) to make legislators aware of the need for action to make classrooms safe for all students and teachers.

To arrange for a teacher-legislator get-together in your district, contact your local association president and CEA’s Chris Donovan or Robyn Kaplan-Cho.

Windsor Choral Teacher Cheers on Former Student, Finalist on The Voice

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Choral teacher Tracee White (left) is delighted to welcome NBC’s The Voice finalist Kymberli Joye back to Windsor High School, where she was White’s student all four years. Joye serves as an inspiration for White’s current students, who watch each episode as a class and are rooting for their hometown celebrity.

A teacher’s good work often shines in her students, and for Windsor High School choral director Tracee White, the product of her hard work now shines on television.

White is the former teacher of rising star Kymberli Joye, a current finalist on NBC’s television reality competition The Voice. Joye’s vocal talents have landed her a spot in the top 10 on the program, which airs Mondays and Tuesdays.

White, who taught Joye for four years and learned that her protégé was auditioning for the show earlier this year, has been following her former student’s successes, even incorporating her progress into lessons for her choir classes.

“I make it educational,” White says, adding that she shows each performance to her classes. “They write reflections and critiques on the vocal performances. They look forward to that every week.”

An added bonus was when her star student was able to visit Windsor High School recently to share her experiences on The Voice—a huge morale-booster for current students.

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Griswold Teacher Brings Back Key Lessons from Holocaust, Genocide Workshop

Materials distributed at a recent workshop show educators how to create thoughtful lessons from tragedies such as the Holocaust and help students draw meaningful lessons from them.

Two days after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that claimed the lives of 11 Jewish worshipers, Griswold High School social studies teacher Hannah McNeil found herself in a discussion with other teachers about the difficult and important lessons that arise from human tragedies fueled by bigotry and hate.

An early-career teacher, McNeil was one of many educators—including new and veteran history and English teachers, department chairs, and college professors—at a workshop titled Teaching Holocaust and Genocide, hosted by the University of Hartford.

Connecticut’s public school teachers have gained increasing access to professional development opportunities such as this one since the passage of Senate Bill 452 this past spring. Supported by CEA and signed into law in May 2018, the legislation has added Holocaust and genocide education and awareness to the required courses of study for Connecticut’s public schools. Read more

How Connecticut Schools Honor Veterans

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 Teacher’s Pastime Is a Major-League Hit

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

Enfield Teachers Donate 1,400 Books to Local Families

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

Unions Give Teachers a Voice to Advocate for Students, Says Building Rep

Building Rep Superhero Sara GoepfrichWhat 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

After a Fire, Plainfield Memorial School Community Shows What’s Possible

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.

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Students Uncover, Share Facts About Immigration

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.

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Touchdown for Waterbury High School Football

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.

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