CEA Advisor: February-March 2019

FEBRUARY–MARCH 2019 CEA ADVISOR 3 CONNECT WITH CEA blogCEA.org facebook.com/ CTEdAssoc twitter.com/ ceanews youtube.com/ ceavideo cea.org flickr.com/ photos/ceapics instagram.com/ cea_teachers 2 LEADING CEA leaders call on all teachers to stand together and advocate for their students, their profession, and public education to ensure a brighter tomorrow. 4 PRIORITIZING From safe classrooms and well- resourced schools to retirement security, CEA members are giving voice to their priorities this legislative session. Find out how you can get involved and educate your legislators on issues of importance to you. 5 BUDGETING As Connecticut’s new governor lays out his budget priorities, which include a plan for teacher pensions, CEA leaders work to ensure that teachers’ voices are front and center. 6-7 ADVOCATING Find out how your colleagues are stepping up and speaking out to educate lawmakers on what’s really happening in Connecticut’s classrooms. 8-9 RISING Discover how the NEA/CEA Early Leadership Institute helps new teachers hone their professional and leadership skills. 10 SPOTLIGHTING Read how educators’ voices rang out at the Women’s March in Hartford. 11 EDUCATING See how CEA’s Professional Learning Academy is helping teachers—both new and seasoned—deliver the best outcomes in their classrooms and beyond. 12 ADVOCATING Have you become ill or injured on the job? Know your rights. Find out about workers’ compensation for teachers. 13-14 REPRESENTING The NEA RA is in the offing, and the governance structure is shaping up. Get the details on newly elected delegates. Plus, CEA members in locals with 76 or fewer members can find out how to become county cluster delegates to the 2019 NEA RA. 15 INNOVATING Find out how your colleagues are using technology to transform learning and connect with their communities, and how you can incorporate technology in your classroom. 16 CONNECTING Don’t miss a thing. From developments at the State Capitol to news about public education at home and across the country, CEA’s blog and social media pages keep you in the loop. ON THE COVER CEA member Melissa Vargas, who teaches English at Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School in Waterbury, points up teachers’ top priorities this legislative session. Vargas is one of six teachers and 30 students appearing in a CEA television and radio ad campaign filmed at Waterbury’s Hopeville Elementary School, which begins airing on major stations February 27. Watch the ads “Connecticut Public School Teachers: Uniting Us Every Day” at cea.org . IN THIS ISSUE Wentzell to Serve as Interim Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell will serve as interim commissioner of the State Department of Education until a replacement is found. At press time, the State Board of Education was preparing to recommend one or two candidates for Governor Lamont’s consideration. The governor will then select a candidate for the General Assembly’s approval. Wentzell’s regular term is set to expire March 1. CEA Scores Grant to Help Students of Color Pursue Teaching Careers Goal is for teaching profession to reflect student diversity It’s a question many in Connecticut have been deliberating over: how to increase the percentage of teachers of color to more closely match the percentage of students of color. West Hartford teachers have developed a program that’s showing early success, and thanks to an NEA Great Public Schools Fund grant, CEA will soon be taking the West Hartford model to the next level. “There is a significant need out there,” says CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, who will oversee the grant initiative. “We don’t have enough certified teachers of color who reflect our population of students of color. And all kids, not just children of color, benefit from having a teacher of color.” With the help of the grant, CEA will reach out to members in districts with high percentages of students of color to create future educator clubs. West Hartford pilots ‘grow-your-own’ approach Former West Hartford Education Association President David Dippolino and Conard High School Assistant Principal Jamahl Hines conceived of a “grow-your-own” model while brainstorming ways to interest high school students in becoming educators. The program started out informally, with teachers mentoring and meeting with students. West Hartford’s Future Educators of Diversity club now meets weekly after school at Hall High to train students in leadership skills, introduce them to educational issues, and support them in applying to colleges and universities. Each student is also matched with a mentor teacher. Starting in the fall of 2019, Hall will be offering .5 credits to students who participate. “We want to create strong Connecticut teachers who have an understanding of diversity in the classroom,” says Dr. Lara White, a social studies teacher and the program lead at Hall. “We’ve found that the program is becoming more popular because of the things we can offer students—like a college fair we held in the fall and campus visits to CCSU, Eastern, and UConn.” Collaboration with Connecticut colleges and universities is a big piece of the program. White says the program benefits the colleges too, which prioritize recruiting a diverse student body to their education programs. Addressing two types of shortages West Hartford Schools’ partnership with CCSU’s School of Education places special emphasis on introducing ethnically diverse students to areas of persistent teacher shortage. Students benefit by receiving early application/admissions decisions to CCSU, financial aid application support, access to a dedicated CCSU academic advisor, and other opportunities to access CCSU faculty and student organizations. “One of my goals for our project, moving forward, is to have high schools be able to offer concurrent credit for education classes, as they do with UConn’s Early College Experience program, that can then be applied toward teaching programs,” says Nicholas. The West Hartford high school students have also had exposure to some real-life experiences to get a taste of what it means to be an educator. Those experiences include tutoring middle and elementary school students one-on-one for two hours each week. And their experience with the club doesn’t end with high school graduation. The program now has several students who are finishing their first year at CCSU. Making it personal “CCSU has made it a priority to keep in touch with those students, and I’ve been in contact with them every month,” White says. “Part of this program is making sure the students stay on track. Sometimes having a really good relationship with a high school teacher they can turn to makes all the difference for college students just starting out.” Students in the program who commit to a career in education and become certified after graduation are guaranteed an interview at a West Hartford school. “We would love to have staff that is homegrown,” White says. “The district, building administrators, and our union have all collaborated around our program and been very supportive. That, along with listening to students and allowing them to take ownership of various activities, has been key to our program’s success.” “I’m really excited to be moving forward with this project,” says Nicholas. “For any child, what it takes to continue on with their education— whether it’s higher education or a trade—is having someone there who says, ‘I believe in you.’ I’m hoping this opportunity will provide more voices telling kids, ‘I believe in you, and you can do it.’” If you are interested in starting a future educators club in your local, contact CEA Vice President TomNicholas at tomn@cea.org or 860-525-5641. Conard High students who are members of West Hartford’s Future Educators of Diversity club pose with Conard High School Assistant Principal Jamahl Hines (second from left), Hall High School social studies teacher Dr. Lara White (third from right), and West Hartford Schools’ Director of Diversity Advancement Dr. Roszena Haskins (second from right). Photo by John Atashian.