Mideastern Region PSEA

October 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.

Conversations That Matter

Our local officers and building reps have been working nearly non-stop on all the new challenges we are facing this school year. The work is complex, important, and exhausting.

At times, leadership roles in locals can feel lonely - like you are the only one that is always trying to hold back a tidal wave of poor planning and bad decisions over which we may seemingly have no control. Sometimes the environment is such that the situation is already upon us and we are simply trying to get life jackets to those who need them.

My message to our members this month is to help our leaders not be so lonely in their endeavors. If it's a building issue, an administrator is going to hear a message better if it is delivered from 25 members and a building rep, rather than just a building rep. If it's a district issue, your officers are going to have a greater impact when they discuss challenges with your superintendent after 150 members have already reached out to him or her about it.

"Speak your truth in the meeting, not the parking lot."

We work better when we all work together. Staying silent and hoping that someone else takes up your advocacy drags down the whole group.

Speaking up isn't easy. It is also necessary. Be brave enough to start a conversation that maters.

We know that our worlds are upside down right now, but we can't make progress towards making this work unless all of our members are unified in their goals, their advocacy, and their voices.

Thank you for all you do.

Bill Senavaitis, Central Bucks EA

Mideastern Region President

Dyslexia: What Your Professor Forgot to Tell You

Despite being the most common learning disability impacting 1 in 5 students many educators admit they know very little about dyslexia. Every teacher, in every grade and content area has and is likely currently teaching a student with dyslexia. Attend this workshop to learn more about how to identify and utilize technology to create the least restrictive environment for your most vulnerable students. The event takes place on Tuesday, October 27th at 5pm and will be presented by Hollie Woodard, Council Rock EA. To register, click here.

Pre-retirement Workshops

Our last pre-retirement workshop of 2020 is just around the corner on Wednesday, November 4 at 5pm. As with the rest of these events, it is designed for members who are within five years of their anticipated date of retirement, are run by our PSEA staff, and can help you review the PSERS options available to you. To register, please click this link. Mark your calendars: Our 2021 dates are January 12, February 11, and March 2.

FREE for Educators

Headspace is available for FREE for all educators - all you need is for someone (usually the HR department) to register your entity. After that, everyone can use their school email to log in and access a variety of mental wellness resources on a desktop or mobile device.

Tour the Michener from Your Sofa!

VIRTUAL Educators Open House & Artist Talk with Diane Burko

Tuesday, November 10, 2020, 5-6:30pm

Our bi-annual in-person open house event for educators and school administrators is going virtual this fall! Held via ZOOM, this interactive program will introduce you to the current exhibition, Rising Tides: Contemporary Art and the Ecology of Water and include a special talk with artist and environmental activist Diane Burko, also featured in the exhibition. In this program, you will engage with Museum education staff, artist Diane Burko and conversations with fellow educators in how to make connections to the exhibition with your curriculum. Learn more about Diane Burko here.To register for the event, please visit this website.

Election 2020

The 2020 General Election is underway in Pennsylvania! This is a critical election for PSEA and all of our members. Here are some resources the help with your voting plan:

Thanks, California Casualty!

Willow Dale Elementary School and Penndale Middle School will be receiving financial support for creative arts programs, thanks to a Music and Arts Grant from our NEA Member Benefits partners, California Casualty!

The grants will enable Willow Dale to purchase sets props and costumes for Drama Club and Penndale to purchase green screens and clip on microphones to help students in the production of podcasts. Thank you to Woody Martin and Collen Mroz for applying for these grants and helping to make these opportunities available for our students.

California Casualty’s Music and Arts Grants will give more students a chance to learn music, act in a school play, or hone their artistic talents – virtually or in-person – throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. To be considered for a 2021 award, PA public K-12 schools can apply for a $250 Music and Arts Grant at www.calcasmusicartsgrant.com.

$100 Grant

As a thank you to all the educators, support professionals, and administrators who dedicate their careers to help Pennsylvania’s students, Kades-Margolis and Security Benefit Group have partnered for the second year to offer 65 $100 UBenefit grants.

Entries will be accepted from Oct. 12-Oct. 30, 2020. To apply for the grant, you will need to provide your contact information, PSEA member number and region, and an estimate of your own money spent on supplies and materials annually (if applicable). Visit www.ubenefit.org to apply!

Mideastern Region House of Delegates

Mideastern Region will be holding its virtual Fall House on November 12, 2020 at 5pm. Contact your local president today for information on how to attend! This is one of your biggest opportunities to have an impact on the future of our organization through election of leaders and an opportunity to submit new business.

Delegates will elect the following positions for the remainder of the term ending August 31, 2022: Vice President (1); Secretary (1); Treasurer (1); Resolutions Representative (1); Legislative Representative (1); Council on Instruction and Professional Development Representative (1); Resolutions Alternate (1); Legislative Alternate (1); PACE Director (1). If you are a member in good standing interested in running for one of these offices, please email our elections chair, Mike Stettner.

Jane H. Kesson School Concert Program

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Jane H. Kesson School Concert Program is the ideal way to expose students in grades 3–5 to the exciting and powerful art form of orchestral music. School Concerts familiarize students with the environment and traditions of a concert hall, equip them with fundamental musical vocabulary, and cultivate a lifelong interest in classical music.

The Philadelphia Orchestra will offer a Virtual School Concert experience with unique distance learning materials. This virtual experience will be in place of our in-person school concerts that usually take place in the spring, to ensure students and teachers can experience the orchestra from the safety of their homes and/or classrooms during these uncertain times.

In order to receive access to the preparation materials and other updates, please visit this website.

Pick Up Night

Thank you to all of our leaders who came to the parking lot of our office last week to pick up MER materials and clothing for their members! It was great seeing a few familiar (masked) faces.

Virtual Social and Racial Justice Opportunities

Our region's membership in the Delaware Valley Consortium for Excellence & Equity allows us the opportunity for members to participate in special events and activities that are focused on eliminating achievement and attainment disparities defined by race/ethnicity, economics, gender, or (dis)ability. Please use this link to check out their line up, and email me (bsenavaitis@psea.org) if you are interested in participating in one or more opportunities.

Your Clearances Will Soon Expire - FBI Deadline Extended

"How am I supposed to complete my clearances during a pandemic??"

Good news - you have until December 31, 2020 to obtain (not apply for) your FBI clearance. For complete information on this deadline extension, please take a look at this document from PSEA.

PSEA Hardship Grants

The PSEA Education Foundation provides financial assistance to PSEA members who are experiencing dire hardship through illness, disability, and/or financial need. Applications are submitted to the PSEA Retirement & Welfare Committee, which reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the PSEA Education Foundation. For more information or to apply, please scroll to the bottom of this page

Principals Need Help Building Anti-Racist Schools

"What's so frustrating is that racial-equity work is deemed as something that is ad hoc, something I tackle after I have all the other school-improvement-related needs," Welton said of how some school leaders approach the job. "This should be the centerpiece of what you do. This should be what it is about. It should be the driver of what you do."

Check out this important article from Education Week.

2021 Scripps Spelling Bee

With so much uncertainty about this school year, we wanted to remind you that the Scripps Bucks-Mont Regional Spelling Bee, sponsored by CAPS, will take place once again in 2021. We are happy to advise you that Scripps has extended the early enrollment price of $175 per school throughout the entire 2020-2021 school enrollment period which concludes on December 20, 2020. If your school would like to participate but might have trouble with the enrollment fee, please reach out to Bill Senavaitis.

Scripps has developed a new online testing platform that allows you to conduct classroom- and school-level competitions through a virtual spelling exam regardless of whether your students are learning in the classroom or remotely. For many schools, this virtual tool could make the spelling bee one of few extracurricular programs available to their students this year.

No matter how a school chooses to determine its spelling bee winner, all champions from enrolled schools will participate in our Regional Bee. While it is our hope that we can host an in-person competition for school champions this year on Saturday, March 20, we will act in accordance with public health guidelines and make that decision in late January. Either way, the champion of our local competition will represent our region in the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee (which may also be held online or in person).

If your school has not enrolled yet, we hope these additional options for administering a school spelling bee program will encourage you to sign up. To register, visit spellingbee.com

We are proud to continue offering the Bee program in a time when many student recognition opportunities are on hold, and we look forward to providing this wonderful opportunity to your students. Please join us!

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Yard Signs

Coming soon to a lawn near you - CAPS yards signs! Stay tuned for more information about how to get one for your property.

Free E-Performances

This and every Monday evening you can enjoy a FREE performance of the The Philadelphia Orchestra! Tomorrow's virtual event will take place at the The Franklin Institute and will include the first and fourth movements from Beethoven’s Septet, as well as Halloween-themed arrangements by Principal Bassoon Daniel Matsukawa in celebration of the museum’s upcoming Franklin Fright event for families. To get your free e-ticket, visit this website.

Using Power and Knowledge at the Table: Bargaining, Healthcare, and Salary Schedules Basics

The next meeting of the Union Leader Academy is on Thursday, November 19 at 4pm via Zoom. These events, facilitated by PSEA UniServs Allison Bronson Knowles and Dustin Mott, are a fantastic way for you to build leadership capacity in your local. For more information on all sessions, check out this document. (Members are welcome to attend just one or all of the sessions). To register for the November bargaining session, please click here.

Retirement Checklist

If you are retiring soon (within the next 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. You can ask for up to two different scenarios (ex: retirement date of December 2020 or June 2021.)

  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.

Reaching for Better

Our region Minority Affairs committee, chaired by Bristol Township EA member Darlene Edwards and supported by the fantastic work of Monet Reilly, Associate UniServ, is proud to introduce "Reaching for Better." This program will be a series of virtual events, book clubs, and podcasts focused on conversations of social and racial justice. Stay tuned for information on our first event!

COVID-19 Resources

For the latest resources from NEA and PSEA, visit www.educatingthroughcrisis.org and www.psea.org/covid19. Each website has current information on supports available to our members, your rights and leave options, and the latest guidance from state officials,.

Save Money

We spend a lot of time talking about how much our members earn - and maybe not enough time talking about how those earnings are spent. PSEA Member Benefits can save you and your family money on everything from insurance to hearing aids. Spend some time browsing our website today!

Stay Connected

There are multiple ways to stay connected to our organization. If you're not yet a member of our private Facebook group, please consider joining (be sure to answer the question and let us know the name of your local). Our website it also a great place to get information about critical alerts and upcoming events.

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!

September 2019

October 2019

November 2019

December 2019

January 2020

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

September 2020

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

Kevin Deely, NEA Director (kdeely@psea.org)