Mideastern Region PSEA

December 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.

Cheap Seats

"A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” - Brene Brown


There are a ton of ill-informed and mean-spirited people in the cheap seats right now. They've always visited those chairs, but the pandemic has given them more fodder for their frustrating chorus. There's the mean social media groups. The unhelpful school board members. It's a lot. But it's the same noise from the same seat-fillers as in the past.


The same individuals who believed you were overpaid during your last round of bargaining are the same ones shouting about how lazy and awful they perceive you to be during the pandemic. "All they do is sit there on Zoom. It's easy!"


Don't let that feedback into your life. And help us organize above it.


CAPS is putting the finishing touches on our latest round of messaging that will counter some of this negative noise and reinforce our commitment to our craft and professions. There are opportunities below for you to sign up to speak at school board meetings and information about out to organize a winning school board campaign.


We are on the floor of the arena. While we are doing all of our important work as an organization, let's get the right people in the right seats.


Have a safe and restful winter break,


Bill Senavaitis, Central Bucks EA

Mideastern Region President

Educators of Color: Lessons from the Past and Visions for the Future

"According to an analysis of Pennsylvania student and teacher demographics by Keystone Crossroads and Research for Action, more than one-fifth of the state’s 500 school districts haven’t had a single teacher of color in at least seven years."


Please take a few minutes to read this article, and then consider joining us on January 11th at 5:30pm via Zoom for an important conversation: Educators of Color: Lessons from the Past and Visions for the Future. Additional information and registration is available on our website.

Building Power at the Local Level

Is your school board in need of an overhaul? It could make all the difference for the learning conditions of your students. Please consider joining our PSEA Government Relations staff on January 21 for a program dedicated to the preparation and planning necessary to engage in a winning school board campaign. To register for this event, please click here.

Legal Alert and Attestation Form Non-Compliance

Please review the two documents below, distributed to PSEA staff and local presidents earlier this month.

  • Legal Alert - outlines the school district attestation process as well as important points on the documentation of non-compliance

  • Non-Compliance Reporting - PSEA has worked hard to standardize the reporting of school entity non-compliance, based on PDE’s recent guidance and the attestation process. Once submitted to PSEA, we will review information and forward it to PDE

PSEA is aware of school entities that are inappropriately accelerating their reopening timetables because of a loophole in state guidance. We also know of schools that are resetting their COVID-19 case counts without closing school buildings at all. This is unacceptable. PSEA is working on these and many other issues with PDE to help make sure that our students and members are safe.

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

Student Mental Health and Advocacy Update

This presentation will discuss the effects of virtual learning on students' mental health, highlighting research regarding the pandemic and learning, as well as tips for supporting students and families during these times. The one-hour presentation is eligible for Act 48/Chapter 14 credit. Following that, we will have an update on advocacy efforts in Harrisburg as well as time for members to network with their colleagues across the region. To register, click here.


Presenters:

Chimereodo Okoroji, PhD, NCSP

Jennifer A. Mautone, PhD, ABPP

Jenny Wert, PSEA Government Relations

Toys for Tots

Congratulations to our ESP Division members who continued their strong support of Toys for Tots once again this year! Our support staff members across Bucks and Montgomery Counties donated over 300 items for children in need.

PSEA House of Delegates

THANK YOU to our members who attended our virtual state House of Delegates and region caucus earlier this month!


This event is one of the best ways for the voices of our members to have an impact on the future actions of the Association. Special thanks to those from our region who invested time and effort into moving and seconding New Business Items: Deneen Dry (Central Bucks ESP), Dave Diehl (Council Rock EA), Beth Teitelman (Bucks County IU EA), Mary Jane Laquer (Bucks County IU EA), Jill Forster (Colonial EA), Donelle Brotz (Colonial EA), Lynn Vitali (Pennsbury EA), Colleen Brodbeck (Pennsbury EA), David Klein (Central Bucks EA), Kitty Semisch (Central Bucks EA), and Dawn Curran (Central Bucks EA).


This year, all New Business Items are being referred to the PSEA Board of Directors. For a complete list of NBIs presented at the event, please take a look at this document.


Do you have an idea for an New Business Item? Your next chance to put it forward is at the next PSEA House on May 14-15, 2021.

Member-Advocate Network

Are you willing to advocate for fellow PSEA members by writing to your school board or speaking during public comment? This survey is for you! Your information will be shared with the presidents of the locals where you live. Thanks for your consideration!

Special Education Workshop and Meeting

This workshop consists of a practical discussion and explanation for how school entities may deal with special education students that exhibit violent and/or disruptive behavior within the confines of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The workshop is eligible for 1 hour of Act 48/Chapter 14 credit. Following the presentation, our members will have an opportunity to network and speak to the various challenges they have encountered at their job site this school year. Click here to register.

Donations to our Communities

Each month, in lieu of the meals members would have enjoyed at meetings in our region office, we are making donations to local organizations via Our Towne Catering, a small business located in Chalfont. This month, have sent meals to Manna on Main Street in Lansdale, Bucks County Housing Group in Doylestown, ERA Food Pantry in Levittown, and Daily Bread Community Food Pantry in Collegeville.

Pre-retirement Workshops

As your retirement nears, it's time to consider which PSERS monthly income options to choose as well as how to handle your contributions and interest account. Our workshops are designed for members who are within five years of their retirement date. Our 2021 dates are January 12, February 11, and March 2. To register for upcoming workshops, please click here. Two reminders:

  • Please be sure to click "check out" at the end to finalize your registration.
  • A link to join the Zoom will be emailed to participants on the day of the event.

Education Programs from Longwood Gardens

Calling all middle school and high school teachers! There are two exciting learning challenges available through Longwood Gardens to give your students some fun, real world experience in the fields of science and art.


The first program, "Unearth it! The Great Debate," is a collaborative research project that challenges middle schoolers to research and present on an important topic with the help of high school mentors. The winning team receives $500 to help put their ideas in place at their school.


The second program, a STEAM Design Challenge, is designed for grades 6-12, and encourages students to combine their art and science skills to design a garden space for their school that provides habitat and attracts wildlife. Visit their website for more information: https://longwoodgardens.org/education

Epilepsy In School: Training for Teachers and Support Personnel

Wednesday, January 13th, 5:30pm-6:30pm via Zoom

Presented by Ellen Baca, Lehigh Valley Resource Coordinator of the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania

The training will present an overview of epilepsy/seizures and acquaint school staff with new seizure classifications, seizure first-aid, medical treatments, and medications to allow them a better understanding of epilepsy and implications for care. The training will also present the social, psychological, and cognitive impacts that epilepsy may have for a student. There will be time at the end for an interactive Q&A. This training is Act 48/Chapter 14 eligible. To register, please click here.

$25 Gift Card

For a limited time, our friends at California Casualty are offering PSEA members a free $25 gift card when you complete a new auto quote! If you choose their coverage, you can even set up your plan to skip payments for two months this holiday season.

Go to www.readyforquote.com/tara to get started today!

FREE for Educators

Headspace is available for FREE for all school personell - 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.
Big picture

Yard Signs

Coming soon to a lawn near you - free CAPS yards signs! We have many, many signs available for our members and their neighbors to display in support of our public schools. Contact Bill Senavaitis if you would like some!

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 June 2021 or December 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.

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.

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!

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

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 the last year that you'd like to reread? Look no further!


November 2019

December 2019

January 2020

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

September 2020

October 2020

November 2020

Mideastern Region PSEA

Bill Senavaitis, President (bsenavaitis@psea.org)

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

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

Sue Brown, Treasurer

Deleah Archer, Secretary

Theresa Prato, PACE Director

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