Mideastern Region PSEA

November 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.

Give Thanks

It's an exhausting time to work in our public schools.

"But you should be thankful for all that you have!"

Absolutely. We can be thankful for all of the good in our lives AND admit that we are struggling.

Thank you for showing up for your students, colleagues and communities - it's more than half the battle. On days when you are overwhelmed, know that those in your circle are so thankful for you - and that your true cheerleaders will not begrudge you setting boundaries.

When something is added to your full work plate, ask: "what will you be taking off my plate so that this fits?" Push back isn't rude. It's appropriate and one of the first steps to creating a sustainable work environment for the remainder of the school year. Is your push back not working? Reach out to a local association rep or leader to coordinate larger, coordinated advocacy.

I know that this is easier said than done. If you need support in any way with this important work, please don't hesitate to reach out. My hope is that we all continue to believe in the power of our collective voice to be treated as professionals and human beings.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday,

Bill Senavaitis, Central Bucks EA

Mideastern Region President

National ESP Day

On Wednesday, November 18 we celebrated National ESP Day! It was a fantastic opportunity to recognize our members for all of the important work that they do in our buildings all year long. One noteworthy new ESP Division member that joined our ranks on ESP day: Kristin Ellenberger, daughter of Dolores McCracken, now a support staff member in Central Bucks. Finally, Heidi Moll, an instructional assistant and union leader with the Berks Career and Technology Center in Leesport, PA is the 2020 Dolores McCracken PSEA Education Support Professional of the Year. Click here to read the full announcement from PSEA!

Who is on your school board?

"Thank god the election is over and we don't have to think about candidates ever again!"

Yeah, no.

School board elections will be here before we know it. NOW is the time to begin recruiting community members who support our values. A simple, "hey, did you ever think about running for school board...?" could mean a world of difference in the future as your local works to do what's best for students and members.

Reaching for Better

The podcast “Nice White Parents” largely focuses on the story of one Brooklyn middle school that opened in 1968 - and how white parents have influenced the trajectory of this school over and over, even when their children didn’t attend it. But the issues the podcast raises via this one case study make it a meaningful opportunity to explore the complicated realities of race, privilege and power across all American schools. Mideast Region and Division members are invited to listen to the five-episode podcast, complete a discussion guide, and participate in an Act 48/Chapter 14 opportunity on Monday, November 30th at 5pm via Zoom. A total of nine (9) professional development hours will be awarded to participants.

Steps to engage in this event:

Honors and Elections at our Mideastern Region House of Delegates

We had a busy night at our first-ever virtual region House of Delegates! Perkiomen Valley EA member and president Bill McBill was recognized as the recipient of our Region Service Award for his kind, noble, and dedicated leadership in the region throughout the years. Bill's term as Region Vice President will conclude when the outcome of our election is determined on December 14.

We also recognized our outgoing region treasurer, Council Rock EA member Kathy Hornberger, for her commitment to the region.

Congratulations to members elected to positions at our event:

MER PACE Director

  • Theresa Prato, Bucks County Technical High School EA

MER Secretary

  • Deleah Archer, Lower Merion EA

MER Treasurer

  • Sue Brown, Wissahickon EA

PSEA Instruction and Professional Development Committee (one position)

  • David Curry, Council Rock EA

PSEA Instruction and Professional Development Committee Alternate (one position)

  • Aaron Bell, Upper Merion EA

PSEA Legislative Committee (one position)

  • Dave Diehl, Council Rock EA

PSEA Resolutions Committee (two positions)

  • Mike Hermann, Pennsbury EA

  • Bill Gerhauser, Council Rock EA

PSEA Resolutions Committee Alternate (one position)

  • Colleen Mroz, North Penn EA

There are two members running for region Vice President: Brad Pawlikowski (Bristol Township EA) and Debbie Lee (Abington EA). This contested election will be conducted via paper ballots in accordance with our Supplemental Elections Procedures Adopted by our Executive Committee on September 30.

Congratulations again to our award recipient, new officers, and new committee members!

Teaching Tolerance

Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners—who work with children from kindergarten through high school. Educators use their materials to supplement curriculum, to inform practices, and to create civil and inclusive school communities where children are respected, valued and welcome participants. Check out their resources today!

Donations to our Communities

In lieu of the meals that were to be consumed at our region office during regular meetings, we are utilizing a local caterer, Our Towne Catering, to donate to both ERA Food Pantry and Manna on Main. Our Towne also has a fantastic catering menu for Thanksgiving - and it's not too late to order! Consider placing an order for your own family from this labor-friendly local business OR donating a meal to a family in need.
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AAA Discount - Existing and Potential Members!

If you are an existing AAA member, or would like to join, there are fantastic discounts available for ALL school personnel. To take advantage of this offer, call 1-844-945-0621. To be eligible, your home address must be in the Club Alliance territory. To check, visit this website, enter your zip code, and then check the address bar in your browser to see if you are within that territory.

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.

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. Mark your calendars: 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.

$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.
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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!

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!

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.

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.

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!

October 2019

November 2019

December 2019

January 2020

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

September 2020

October 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)