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Spotlight: PreK-12 School Teachers

One such educator practicing empowerment on a daily basis is special education teacher, award-winning author, motivational speaker and life coach Dan Blanchard. He was recently offered a lucrative sum to deliver a prized leadership speech in South Africa. All signs pointed to his accepting — until Blanchard realized that the event was scheduled for the first day of classes in the Consolidated School District of New Britain.
Blanchard had to politely decline, saying, “the first face my students should see on the first day should be mine, not a substitute’s.”
“I think all teachers out there would agree with me on how important the first day of school is,” said Blanchard. “We care very much about our students; thus, we all work tirelessly for their well-being and development regardless of what we have to give up sometimes,” added Blanchard, the executive secretary of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated New Britain Federation of Teachers.
Click here to learn more about Blanchard’s work outside the classroom.
Educators in Norwalk Public Schools have helped to build a sustainable local community through their highly successful “Literacy 4 Parents 4 Their Children” program. The family engagement effort was launched in June, 2014 as a partnership between our AFT-affiliated teachers union, district administrators and the local board of education.
The program is coordinated by educators and sisters Pamela Serlin and Francine Hakim, who last year were tapped by the state’s education department as “Teacher Leaders-in-Residence.” The initiative was the brainchild of long-time Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Bruce LeVine Mellion, who last month passed away unexpectedly at the age of 68.
“We always wanted the reward of working with kids and making a difference,” said Serlin. “It’s always been a team effort,” she added.
“Parent engagement is key to positive academic outcomes,” said Hakim. “We, as parents, play a very critical role in helping our children gain foundational skills that lead to full success,” she added.
Serlin and Hakim in July presented the program’s early success at AFT’s TEACH (Together Educating America’s Children) conference in Washington, D.C. Norwalk Schools’ new superintendent last month announced plans to expand the effort to all six of the district’s Title I schools.
Click here for our previous update on “Literacy 4 Parents 4 Their Children.”
Educators at a charter school that opened in Willimantic in 2014 earlier this year demonstrated empowerment by uniting for a voice on the job and winning a first contract. Teachers at the Path Academy Windham in June ratified the collective bargaining agreement after the school’s governing board voluntarily recognized the free choice of its employees to unionize.
“Our new contract cements a real partnership between labor and management,” said Teresa Gonzalez, a former Windham Public Schools teacher now working at Path Academy. “It’s how the relationship between administration and educators should be in all schools. After all, a quality learning experience for all our students is why we do what we do,” added Gonzalez, a member of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated Windham Charter School Federation of Teachers (WCSFT).
Click here to learn more about Path Academy educators’ first union contract.
World Teachers’ Day is an annual recognition effort launched in 1994 and coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The UN agency partners with both Education International (EI) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to promote the importance of educators both as professionals and as leaders in communities across the globe.
This year’s celebration serves as a reminder that teachers have a profound effect on their world, both by empowering students and themselves, and by doing so, build sustainable societies.
Click here to learn more about World Teachers’ Day 2015.

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