days in the classroom are about getting to know students, getting steeped in the curriculum, finding your way around the building, and establishing routines. “There’s so much to learn and do, it can be difficult to strike a good work-life balance and hard to know where to turn for help and advice. Our local associations put tremendous thought and effort into providing that extra help, support, and fellowship.” From Granby to Greenwich, Southington to Stamford, local associations have been hosting meals, outings, and other gatherings where members could come together. In addition to convocations, special events for new teachers have been held everywhere from cafeterias and banquet halls to bowling alleys and minigolf courses. “It’s important for members to meet their leaders at the state level and know that we’re advocating for them at the bargaining table, at the state legislature, before the State Board of Education, and everywhere in between,” says Dias. Having served as presidents of their local education associations, both Dias and DeLancey have years of experience organizing similar events for new teachers. As statewide leaders, they’re committed to meeting with all educators at the local level and hearing firsthand about their triumphs, aspirations, and concerns.

As schools welcomed first-time and returning teachers to their classrooms, CEA President Kate Dias and Vice President Joslyn DeLancey attended convocations, orientations, and new teacher socials to meet some of those who are new to the profession and to let all educators know they are seen, heard, and supported. They also spoke at press conferences, roundtable discussions, and other events aimed at ensuring safe, in-person learning. “This is an especially challenging time to be an educator, and we are here to show all our members— from our newly minted teachers to our veterans and leaders—how much we value and support them,” Dias says. For early-career educators, she adds, those first

IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: MANCHESTER, BRIDGEPORT BOWLING OUTINGS CELEBRATE NEW TEACHERS Being a new teacher can be overwhelming—which is why the Manchester Education Association (MEA) and Bridgeport Education Association (BEA) made a special effort to bring their newest educators together in a way that allowed for team-building and fun. New teachers in both districts traded in their street shoes for bowling lowtops, practiced their backswings and strikes, and were treated to catered meals, raffle prizes, and new teacher survival kits. “These events allow our new teachers to build relationships with their colleagues,” said MEA President Shelley Carlson. “It’s nice to see their nerves go down. It also gives them a chance to meet our executive board.” “I love welcoming our new teachers and seeing them mingle,” said executive board member Jill Kilgus. “None of them really knew each other before today. Giving them a warm welcome before they start is a great way to ease stress and build excitement about teaching.” Katie Tetrault and Sabrina Torres (pictured, next page), among more than 70 new teacher hires in Manchester, are both beginning their careers after student teaching last year during the pandemic. “I’m looking forward to meeting the kids and their families,” said Tetrault, who is teaching kindergarten at Martin Elementary. Torres, who is teaching at Waddell Elementary, noted that in spite of the stress and uncertainty about how the pandemic will affect schools this year, she is eager to be with her students. “I’m excited to get to know them.” “In Bridgeport,” said BEA President Ana Batista, “at our bowling outing and in our schools, we are so proud and excited to welcome these talented men and women into our association and into the most rewarding profession there is.”

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS: WINDSOR’S NEWEST TEACHERS GET A WARM, HEARTY WELCOME Windsor Education Association leaders welcomed 75 new teachers into the fold with a buffet breakfast and words of encouragement from veteran educators, including CEA President Kate Dias. “We make sure your voices are reflected here in your community and at the state level,” said Dias, “and that you are safe and protected in your jobs.” WEA Secretary Stacey Paley, who helped organize the morning event, said it gave the district’s new teachers an opportunity to connect with each other, prepare for the school year, and meet state and local representatives who will advocate for them in the classroom, at the bargaining table, at the state legislature, and everywhere else teachers’ voices need to be heard. “You have friends in powerful places with CEA, and you are part of a family,” said WEA Membership Chair and Treasurer Melissa Herman. WEA Co-Presidents John Scanlon and Jennifer Delskey noted that their local association is in negotiations this year and will be working on

new contracts for Windsor teachers. “This is not an easy profession,” said Delskey, “and we wanted to gather our newest teachers and let them know they’re valued. Support from their union helps us retain great teachers.”

After the breakfast, Windsor’s newest cohort of educators attended New Teachers and the Law, professional development offered by CEA’s Member Legal Services team to help them navigate legal issues that could arise in the course of their work and understand their rights and responsibilities. K-2 special education teacher Noranita Mohdyusof and school social worker Latisha Balbachan said they looked forward to getting to know their students and appreciated the warm welcome from WEA and CEA. “Meeting my union representatives today makes me feel welcomed into the district,” said fifth-grade humanities teacher Eriya Tateishi. “This get-together is very informative. They’re making sure we as new teachers feel comfortable and ready to go.”

“It was so good to be back in a bowling alley!” CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey posted to social media. “Thanks to the Bridgeport Education Association for inviting me to their new teacher event. It was great to meet some young and motivated teachers and to hang with the BEA. We won’t talk about my second game’s score.” DeLancey (second from left) is shown here with UniServ Rep Eric Marshall, BEA President Ana Batista, and CEA President Kate Dias.

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