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Posts tagged ‘teachers’

New CEA Ad Campaign Spotlights Strength of Diversity in Our Public Schools

Waterbury fifth grade teacher Alison Kirchberger says, “We know that diversity enriches our schools, and we work hard to build safe, welcoming classrooms for all students.”

Connecticut’s neighborhood public schools are true cornerstones of our democracy, welcoming students from every country, speaking different languages, and providing them with a true pathway for success. Connecticut teachers have opened their arms, their hearts, and their classrooms to ensure that all students take pride in their heritage, and know that their classrooms are places where they are welcomed and valued.

That is the core message of a new public awareness advertising campaign sponsored by the Connecticut Education Association and the National Education Association.

The TV, radio, and online ads underscore the vital role of teachers in our public schools. The ads remind the public that teachers welcome students from every background and help them learn, grow, and pursue their dreams with passion. Read more

Mortgage Assistance Program for Teachers

Are you looking to buy a home? If you’re considering buying in certain districts or you teach in a shortage area, check out the Connecticut Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program.

The Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program offers home loans at below-market interest rates to Connecticut public school teachers. To be eligible for the program, you must be employed as a Connecticut-certified public school teacher or a certified regional vocational-technical teacher. You must also be a first-time homebuyer unless you purchase a home in a federally targeted area.

Click here to find out if you quality for the Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program.

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority website offers information on this and other mortgage programs, a list of participating lenders, targeted areas of the state, subject matter shortage areas, and priority and transitional school districts.

Teachers Run Statewide Relay in Support of Safe Schools

As students around the country marked the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School on April 20, teachers in Connecticut sent a clear message that they, too, are pushing for stronger congressional action on gun violence in classrooms.

Representing all eight counties in Connecticut, dozens of teachers took part in a statewide relay race to the State Capitol—Running for Our Lives—to build on the momentum of a student-led movement demanding action for safer schools. Educators came from every part of the state, wearing colors they chose to represent their counties.

Runners wear a rainbow of colors to represent the counties where they teach.

Read more

Statement from CEA President Sheila Cohen on Arming Teachers to Prevent School Violence

The Connecticut Education Association does not endorse the idea that teachers should bring guns into the classroom.

Teachers must focus on educating students. Asking teachers to be armed, paramilitary operatives as a result of the inability of Congress to pass gun violence prevention legislation is madness. We place enough mandates on our teachers—Congress needs to take action to keep our schools safe.

After the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook, Connecticut passed historic gun, mental health and school safety laws—some of the toughest in the nation—to help keep our children, our families, our schools, and our communities safe from gun violence. Republicans and Democrats worked together.

Congress must take action to protect all students in every school in America.

CEA is helping to coordinate school activities and early-morning Walk-Ins For Safe Schools on Thursday, March 14. School communities can stand in solidarity, and walk-in to school together to support the changes needed to make every school and every child safe.

Students and Teachers Biggest Losers in Budget Crisis: Legislators Urged to Pass a Budget That Invests in Education

Kindergarten teacher and Groton Education Association President Beth Horler said her district has already had to close an elementary school and cut 22 teaching positions.

Cutting school programs, laying off teachers and administrators, diminishing resources, and increasing class sizes. These are just some of the actions school districts across Connecticut have already taken to prepare for the start of the school year without a state budget.

Today, outside Maloney High School in Meriden, CEA, AFT, teachers, parents, students, and a coalition of superintendents, boards of education, and school business officials held a news conference. They detailed how students are being hurt by the budget impasse and the chaos it is creating as schools prepare for a new year with tremendous uncertainty and without critical funding. Read more

East Hartford Teachers Strengthen Professional Skills to Benefit Students

IB World Rebecca Tubbs, Laura Griffin, Lia Hickey, and Darcy Noble Malone.

East Hartford kindergarten teachers Rebecca Tubbs, Laura Griffin, Lia Hickey, and Darcy Malone at the I Teach K! conference this summer.

When it comes to professional development, research shows that sustained, job-embedded, collaborative professional learning opportunities are most likely to help teachers better support students. The opposite of a morning lecture on a generic subject, this type of learning opportunity requires a substantial time commitment and a focus on the specific skills teachers need for their content area.

It’s just the type of professional development East Hartford kindergarten teachers Laura Griffin, Darcy Malone, Lia Hickey, and Rebecca Tubbs were able to participate in this summer thanks to a grant from the Fund for Teachers.

“I feel like kindergarten is kind of a stand-alone grade,” said Hickey. “It’s very different from pre-K and very different from first grade.” Read more

A New School Year Off to a Great Start

The new school year is a time of new beginnings, new relationships, and new opportunities. Students and teachers around Connecticut are now back at school and getting to know one another and the routines of a new year.

Students in East Hampton had their first day back at school this Tuesday. Watch the video below and find out what teachers at Center School, which serves students in fourth and fifth grade, are looking forward to this year.

East Windsor Educators Honored for Saving Students from Rabid Fox

East Windsor student presents P.E. teacher with flowers to thank her for her role

East Windsor student Evan Witzke presents teacher Elissa Daniele with flowers to thank her for her role in saving him from a rabid fox.

Two teachers and a school psychologist were honored at a special recognition ceremony yesterday at the East Windsor Board of Education meeting for their heroism and quick actions that helped save the life of a little boy and prevent other students from being attacked by a rabid fox on Sept. 22.

Physical Education teacher Elissa Daniele pinned the fox to the ground and called for assistance. School psychologist Denise LaPre and special education teacher Justin Piwonski rushed to her aid and helped contain the fox in a recycling bin until the police arrived.

While she doesn’t consider herself a hero, Daniele said she did what any other teacher would have done. Read more

Reactions to New School Lunches at Your School?

Opinions vary on the new federal school lunch standards — what’s your take?  Photo from USDAgov via Flickr.

The new federal school lunch standards rolled out this September have drawn protests and boycotts from high-schoolers, and there are reports that children of all ages are dumping their veggies. The new guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are admirably aimed at improving health and combating childhood obesity, but is this the right approach?

The new standards insure students are offered fruit and vegetables every day, increase offerings of whole grain foods, offer only fat-free or low-fat milk, and limit calories based on the age of the children being served.

Childhood obesity is certainly a serious health concern. Here in Connecticut a recent study found that a third of kindergarteners and third-graders are overweight and one in seven are obese.

Obesity solution or restricted eating?

Some say the  new lunch program is a step in the right direction, while others object to the calorie limitations and say the changes are too sudden.

The Milwakee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that 70% of Mukwonago High students who normally buy lunch boycotted the school lunches to protest the one-size-fits-all approach. The USDA standards limit lunchtime calories for students in grades nine through twelve to 850.

“A freshman girl who weighs 100 pounds can eat this lunch and feel completely full, maybe even a little bloated,” said Joey Bougneit, a Mukwonago senior.

But [Nick] Blohm is a 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound linebacker. He’s also class president, and takes several Advanced Placement classes. If schools want students to perform well, he said, they can’t be sitting in their chairs hungry.

Marion Nestle, a New York University professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, writes on her blog

If kids aren’t eating the food because they hate it, the calorie limits hardly matter. And if kids are hungry, the remedy is simple: Eat the food.

The new lunch standards hardly call for starvation rations. Kindergarteners through fifth-graders get up to 650 calories. The maximum is 700 for kids in grades six through eight, and 850 for high schoolers. All kids can have extra servings of vegetables. This ought to be plenty to get most of today’s kids – sedentary, underactive and prone to obesity as they are – through any school day.

On her blog, journalist and blogger Deborah White writes:

The Obama administration’s new school-lunch guidelines are a well-intentioned step forward, but too restrictive, too inflexible. Too extreme. And too much, too soon, to successfully wean American kids off fast food habits, and to inspire love of healthier fare.   Force is not the way to lead kids, or anyone, away from fake foods.

Perhaps worst of all, kids from low-income families can least afford to augment the often unsatisfying lunches that may be their heartiest meal of the day. Sometimes their only meal…

Also quoted in the  Journal Sentinel article is Mukwonago Area School District Food Service Supervisor Pam Harris. Harris said:

Children’s weight and poor nutrition in America are serious problems, but the changes are too abrupt.

“I could not be more passionate about this,” Harris said. “I want to solve this problem. But limiting calories in school lunch is not going to help the overweight kid. What happens at home is a major piece of that puzzle.”

In the New York Times, Jane E. Brody writes that it’s important for parents to expose children to a variety of foods and involve them in food preparation.

But schools, too, have work to do. When children learn about foods in the classroom and have hands-on experience with them, they are more likely to eat them in the lunchroom.

How about restoring kitchens run by well-trained cooks who know how to prepare nutritious and inviting meals, and offering cooking classes to boys and girls starting in the first grade? Schools today are so focused on stuffing children’s heads with facts and figures they have forgotten that a good mind needs a well-nourished (and well-exercised) body.

What’s your opinion? How are students in your school reacting to the new school lunch standards?

Teacher Morale Through the Roof: Exciting Progress in Bridgeport

From right, Bridgeport Education Association President Gary Peluchette, CEA President Sheila Cohen, and CEA Vice President Jeff Leake listen to Curiale teacher Katie McLeod explain an exciting plan to boost student achievement at the school.

Governor Malloy is all ears as he learns about plans and early progress being made in schools that are part of the new Commissioner’s Network — a key program enacted when the governor signed Public Act 12-116, Connecticut’s sweeping education reform law.

Today the governor was at Curiale School in Bridgeport. “This is a check-in. Are we moving toward improvement? Are we making progress?” The governor was speaking in the school’s library with key stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, and board of education members.

At the meeting, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor credited the Bridgeport Education Association (BEA) and CEA with being “incredibly creative and flexible” about spawning innovation at the school.

One of those innovations was developing new teacher schedules to provide students with a longer instructional day and an extended day schedule. The extended day complements the strong academic program by offering dance, music, and art classes, as well as sports and recreation opportunities for students and families.

Curiale teacher Katie McLeod served on the committee that developed a “turnaround plan” for the school.

McLeod says, “We are all excited about the after-school enrichment programs and our new administrators. Teachers’ morale is through the roof, and student attendance is way up.”

With a new curriculum and more teacher professional development, enthusiasm about improvement is palpable at Curiale.

Governor Malloy talks to Curiale Students Kwajana Gooden (left) and Nayelis Perez.

In Christine Nogueira’s fourth-grade class, Governor Malloy chatted with students Kwajana Gooden and Nayelis Perez.

Perez said she likes the longer days. “They are designed to help you,” Governor Malloy told the girls.

Beyond the extended day and after-school program, other elements of Curiale’s turnaround plan include the following.

  • A rigorous kindergarten through grade three literacy initiative.
  • Smaller class sizes.
  • Leveled flexible groups for reading and math so students receive appropriate instruction.
  • A new curriculum in all core subjects.
  • The formation of Instructional Learning Teams to lead and facilitate schoolwide implementation of lesson studies and professional development.
  • Common planning time for teachers each week.
  • A program of Schoolwide Enrichment that will identify the strengths and talents of all students and create classes and programs to develop these talents.

UConn’s Neag School of Education is working with Curiale to develop and implement the Schoolwide Enrichment Model. Neag will offer professional development to train teachers and staff to identify students’ areas of strength and develop strategies to address them and link them to students’ areas of need. Research shows this model engages students in learning and makes them eager to participate in school programs and activities.

Governor Malloy said today that an extra $4.5 million are being allocated to the Bridgeport School District this year.

At Curiale and other schools, the hope is that extra resources and hard work will have everyone talking about “substantial change, not marginal change,” according to the governor.

McLeod explained that the extra instructional time has provided enrichment opportunities enabling teachers to go back and teach fun things that excite students, such as a unit on Pioneer Days.

Jennifer Kelemen, a teacher at Madison School, and Gregory Furlong, a teacher at Bryant School, also serve on the Curiale Turnaround Committee.

BEA President Gary Peluchette said, “Along with Katie McLeod, they are exemplary educators who have shown how much teachers can and want to be part of the solution. They are dedicated to their students, their profession, and their community.”

Kelemen said she hopes Curiale can be a model for other schools because extracurricular opportunities, from sports to the arts, really motivate kids. Furlong pointed out that wraparound services for students and families are also an enormous plus.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said that collaboration that includes all education stakeholders is a key element. “We are pleased that school reform efforts are putting a focus on families and community — essential ingredients for student success,” said Cohen.