Mideastern Region PSEA

Februrary Newsletter

Welcome to the Mideastern Region newsletter! Each month we will be featuring information to help our members stay informed, get involved, and advocate for our profession.

Our region represents the 15,168 public school educators across the 35 school districts and two intermediate units of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Your hard work and the power of collective bargaining help to bring an exceptional education to the 195,426 students in our buildings.

Day at the Zoo

Join us for a fun day at the Philadelphia Zoo on Saturday, April 4th! This Act 48/Chapter 14 event is designed as an opportunity for members and their guests to learn about what the Philadelphia Zoo has to offer to our students. Attendees will have the opportunity to earn three (3) hours of Professional Development credits by attending one small and one large group session, with time to explore the zoo on your own. This event is open to any EA or ESP PSEA member for a discounted price of $10 per member and $10 per member guest ages 2 and above. Visit our website to register!

PSEA Webinar: Proposed PA Budget

Register today for an exclusive webinar on Wednesday, February 19 at 4:30pm to join PSEA Government Relations staff for a review of the budget proposed by Governor Wolf. Participants will also hear more about the upcoming legislative issues and the battles we could face this spring along with what you can do to advocate for your students and your profession!

Nominate an Unsung Hero - and win $1,000 for your school!

The CAPS annual Unsung Heroes contest is now accepting nominations! Take a look at this website to revisit what the contest is all about, and see the work of last year's finalists. Here's how it works:

  1. Nominate a colleague any time between now and 5pm on Sunday, February 23.

  2. Our CAPS team selects four finalists and we send video crews out to schools to capture their contributions to our students and communities. The school of each finalist receives a 1k grant to help students.

  3. The four videos are released on the CAPS website and everyone has a chance to vote for their favorite. The winner's school receives an additional 1k grant to support programs in the building.

Start the process by nominating one of your colleagues today!

Is Retirement in Your Near Future?

If you are retiring at the end of the school year or calendar year here are steps that you should be taking with your district and PSERS:

  1. Carefully read your contract for information about when you need to provide notification to your district.
  2. Request a retirement estimate from PSERS via the website below. You can ask for up to two different scenarios (ex: retirement date of June 2020 or December 2020)
  3. Call the Southeast Regional PSERS office in Warminster (215.443.3495) to schedule Exit Counseling.

You can also sign up to be a PSEA-Retired member if you are in year one or year 35 of your career - or anywhere in between! The earlier you sign up, the more money you will save on dues. You can enroll in PSEA-Retired FOR LIFE with a one-time dues payment of $774, or break that into four payments of $193.50 over a two-year period. This is a great way to continue to stay involved and engaged with the work of the association as well as continued use of our member benefits. For more information and to enroll, visit this website.

Sue Castle Memorial Scholarship

Sue Castle was a member of Colonial EA and president of our region from 1995-1997. Each year the Montgomery County/PSEA Retired Educators group offers a scholarship to a college junior or senior enrolled in the field of education. The individual needs to be a graduate of a Montgomery County high school. If you have a family member or know of someone you respect who may benefit from the scholarship, please email Carol Cohen (carolco328@gmail.com) to get a copy of the application.

Thank you,
The Susan K Castle Memorial Scholarship Committee

Carol Cohen (carolco328@gmail.com

Diana Kernop (Kernop.mea@gmail.com)

33rd Annual CAPS "Touch the Future" Art Show

THANK YOU to all of our members who are helping to prepare student pieces for our art show at the end of the month! Named for Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher selected to go to space as part of NASA’s Teacher in Space project, our 33rd show is shaping up to be amazing. Please consider stopping by the Arcadia University Commons Art Galley between March 1 and March 26 to view the show. For a look at the work displayed in previous years, please visit the CAPS website. Pictured to the right is a piece by North Penn High School student Nathan Addley, a 2019 Purchase Prize winner.

Read Aloud with Confidence

Be prepared to get up on your feet and learn how to be clear, engaging, and comfortable reading in front of an audience of your students and colleagues! Through a series of fun exercises and improvisation games you will learn to apply simple techniques used by voiceover artists and actors to hold audience attention and interest. Reading aloud to students both slows down and simultaneously intensifies the classroom experience. In a world of sound bites and half-formed ideas expressed quickly in electronic formats, students benefit from hearing complete ideas, expressed with originality and attention, such as one finds in literary language.

Presented by: Emlyn McFarland, Actor/Voiceover Artist/Comedian on Monday, March 9th at 5pm at our region office. Click here to register!

Save Money!

Are you saving at least $1,500 a year via PSEA Member Benefits? If the answer is no, please stop in our office on Monday, March 23 for a PSEA Member Benefits fair! A variety of vendors will be in attendance to help you AND your family save money on everything from cell phone bills to insurance to hearing aids. The event will be open from 5-7pm for you to talk with representatives, save money, and eat pizza. Please let us know if you plan on attending!

MER Night at the Movies

Join us at the Movie Tavern in Collegeville for opening night of Disney's Mulan! Discounted general admission tickets for the March 26th 6pm show are $6 per member and member guest. This event is open to all PSEA members but is limited to the number of seats in the theater, so grab your tickets today!

Want to be Happier? Start With Gratitude

"We all want to be happy. In a perfect world, happiness would greet us each morning, usher us around, and surround our days with lovely things, moments, and people. But positive psychology tells us that the world isn’t inherently positive or negative. It’s neutral. What we put out into the universe is proven to impact what comes back. This is some of the best news we can receive."

Take a look at the work of Suzanne Dailey (Central Bucks EA) and start practicing gratitude today!

Can I Wear My Union Shirt to Work?

Yes, thanks to Protected Concerted Activity.

Protected Concerted Activity is a term used in labor law to describe an action or activity where two or more people are acting together, or a single person is acting on behalf of two or more people, to improve pay, benefits, or working conditions. This concept comes from three sources: the US Constitution (First Amendment Right to Free Assembly) The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, and the Public Employee Relations Act of 1970.

“It shall be lawful for public employees to organize, form, join, or assist in employee organizations or to engage in lawful concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection . . .” -Public Employee Relation Act, Section 1101.401

So, what does this afford you and your local the right to do? Among other things…

  • Use Weingarten Rights when representing members
  • Allow Union officers to meet with administration
  • Allow a Union president speak at board meeting

Protected Concerted Activity implicitly demonstrates Union power in bargaining, grievance-handling, and issue-organizing.

It also offers “other mutual aid and protection” which explicitly demonstrates Union power when we:

  • Wear Union buttons or shirts
  • Distribute a leaflet or conduct informational picketing in the community

It does NOT cover anything illegal (e.g., breach of confidentiality - FERPA), violence, intentional lying, disloyalty to the employer, or slander.

Our protected concerted activities are covered through NEA by the State Affiliate Association Professional Liability Program. This program covers state and local affiliates; staff; governance; and includes local officers, building reps, local committee chairs and all Union members who are engaged in an “authorized association activity.”

So, wear your Union button, wear your Union clothing, and work with your local president to improve pay, benefits, and working conditions. You’re covered!

Big picture

Helping Students Build Connections with "Everyday Hero" Stories

Join us for this author event sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Public Schools on Wednesday, April 15 at 5pm at our office in Montgomeryville!

Studies show that young readers who feel a personal connection to what they are reading demonstrate better comprehension and derive greater enjoyment from their reading. They engage more thoroughly when they see ideas connecting to their own experiences and passions. They see themselves in new roles, have a clearer picture of historical events, and become more actively involved in learning scientific theories. Connections also help them bridge the gap between current knowledge and new material. Choosing strong, well-crafted nonfiction is a good first step toward building these connections.

Join author Aimée Bissonette for an interactive discussion about using nonfiction and, in particular, "Everyday Hero" stories to intentionally guide young readers to a discovery of how books connect to their lives. Participants will be provided with model classroom activities and a list of suggested "Everyday Hero" stories. Register today!

Win a Jeep Compass!

Life is hectic enough... when you’re behind the wheel make driving your priority. Promise to drive undistracted and enter for your chance to win a Jeep Compass or $25,000 cash courtesy of California Casualty!

Would you like to be an employee of PSEA?

Are you interested in learning about the process of becoming an employee of PSEA as a UniServ Representative? The next information session will be held as part of the PSEA Spring Leadership Conference on March 6 at 5pm at the Harrisburg Hilton. This is open to all PSEA members, even if you are not attending the conference. For additional information, please contact Cathy Smyth at csmyth@psea.org.

PSEA Personal Legal Services

Our members have access to our PSEA staff attorneys, via their UniServ Representative, for any job-related legal issue. However, sometimes our members find themselves needing assistance with a personal matter.

PSEA Personal Legal Services

Personal Legal Services is a PSEA-NEA program designed to provide all members of PSEA and its affiliates with high-quality legal services or mediation services for personal legal matters at significant savings. Each eligible member is entitled to two 30-minute consultation sessions free during each membership year. If you need additional legal assistance, the Program lets you get that assistance at rates below the participating attorney’s usual fees.

Explanation of Benefits

As a member of PSEA, you are entitled to two free consultations for each membership year (September 1-August 31) of up to 30 minutes each. During the two free sessions, you – or your spouse or domestic partner, or your dependent child – may discuss any personal legal matter except income tax preparation. The two free consultations may not be combined, and must be on two different matters. The attorney or mediator does not get paid for this consultation. The consultation is provided as a service to PSEA and its members.

The free consultation will permit you to discuss your personal legal problem with an attorney in order to determine whether and to what extent additional legal services may be needed. You should not expect the attorney to draft or review documents during the consultation. If you ask the attorney to provide additional services (such as preparation of a will), you will be billed by the attorney for the additional service(s). You will be told when the free consultation is over and when charges begin.

In addition to the free consultations, you may have specific legal work performed in five “core” areas at a 30 percent reduction of the participating attorney’s normal fees. Information regarding the normal fee and reduced fee will be provided to you by the attorney in advance. PSEA cannot guarantee that the discounted fee will be the lowest in the area, only that it is 30 percent lower than the fee normally charged by that attorney or mediator for that service.

In all cases, you learn the rate for legal or mediation services charged before service is rendered. You have access to the services of approved attorneys or mediators who are accountable to PSEA and NEA for quality service. Note, however, that the attorneys or mediators who agree to participate in the Program are not required to provide additional legal services to you, nor are you obliged to retain them for additional legal services.


The Personal Legal Services Program covers almost any personal legal need, not related to your employment, that you or your eligible family members might have. There are five “core” areas of personal legal services for coverage under the Program for which legal services may be provided at the discount Program rate:


  • Preparation of a will, assistance with estate planning, legal assistance if you are named the executor or administrator of an estate, and legal counsel in guardianship proceedings.


  • Assistance with the purchase or sale of residential property, disputes with landlords, property line controversies, and problems with zoning laws or land use regulations.


  • Assistance for disputes with creditors or finance agencies and proceedings with retailers concerning defective merchandise.


  • Representation in proceedings for annulment, divorce, separation, alimony, custody, child support, guardianship, adoption, paternity, or name change.


  • Assistance with charges of operating under the influence, reckless driving, or other offenses involving the potential loss of license, a jail sentence, or financial liability in excess of $50.

The Program does not cover legal services at the discounted rate for business or trade dealings, bankruptcies, preparation of income tax returns, preparation of a defense in Internal Revenue Service income tax matters, or defense of criminal violations (other than traffic violations covered by the Program). A participating attorney is not permitted to represent a member in any matter in which the adverse party is NEA, PSEA, an affiliate of NEA or PSEA, or another member of NEA or PSEA (except in separation or divorce proceedings). Court costs, filing and service fees, and attorney out-of-pocket expenses are not ordinarily discounted.


Call our region office at 215.853.2108 and a staff member will verify your membership and provide you with the contact information of an attorney or mediator approved by NEA and PSEA to participate in the Program.

Your Clearances Will Soon Expire

Act 153 of 2014 requires school employees to provide or renew State Police/FBI record checks and child abuse clearance statements. Additional changes to the law went into effect July 1, 2015. PSEA wants to ensure that all members understand how this policy affects them. Updated clearances are required every 60 months from the date of the oldest clearance. If you obtained your clearances when this law went into effect, you are approaching the end of the 60 month term. Please reach out to your HR department or visit this website for more information.

Recommending School Board Candidates

Are you interested about learning the process by which your local can make a PACE recommendation for school board candidates? Have you gone through the process in the past but would like an update on procedures new for the next election cycle? This event is for you! Join members of the PSEA Government Relations staff, our region PACE director, and fellow EA and ESP local leaders for an evening to help you learn about navigating the recommendation process. Registration for this April 16 event is FREE and includes dinner.

Calling All Student Teachers

Do you have a student teacher this semester? Is someone in your family student teaching? Talk with him or her about the benefits of being a member of Student PSEA, the largest student state affiliate group in the country! Student members are immediately covered under PSEA liability insurance, are eligible for member benefits, AND if student dues are pre-paid for all four years, that money is refunded when the member earns their teaching certificate and becomes a full PSEA member. Membership options are affordable and range from four years ($90) or one year ($30). For more information, please visit this website.

Music and Arts Grant

Last year, six lucky PSEA members were recipients of $250 California Casualty Music and Arts Grants! Apply now for a 2020 California Casualty Music and Arts Grant for a chance to receive $250 for a worthy music, art or performance project at www.calcasmusicartsgrant.com

Advocacy Day on the Hill

Advocacy Day on the Hill (the artist formerly known as Lobby Day) will take place on Tuesday, June 23 for our Mideastern Region members. This event is a great opportunity to create or maintain your relationship with the legislators representing you in the PA House and Senate, meet our PSEA Government Relations team, and spend some time in PSEA Headquarters. (Look how close it is to the Capitol!) Attendees can choose to stay overnight in Harrisburg on the evening of June 22 or simply drive to Harrisburg for the day, which typically goes from 8am-1pm. To register, please click here. If you have questions, please contact Jen Statler at jstatler@psea.org.

One-Stop Shopping

All of the information about our upcoming events is, in addition to this newsletter and our Facebook group, updated frequently on our website. Let your colleagues who are not on social media know that it's a great resource to stay connected to the resources of our organization!

Previous Editions

Did you miss our newsletter last month? Was there something from earlier this school year that you'd like to reread? Look no further!






Mideastern Region PSEA

Bill Senavaitis, President (bsenavaitis@psea.org)

Alan Malachowski, President- Elect (amalachowski@psea.org)

Bill McGill, Vice President (wmcgill@psea.org)

Kathy Hornberger, Treasurer

Susan Brown, Secretary

Theresa Prato, PACE Director

Debbie Lee, NEA Director (dlee@psea.org)