East Hampton Education Association Newsletter

President's Corner

By EHEA President, Steve Archibald

Where did the school year go? As I write this final column of the 2015-16 school year there are a mere 19 days to go (but who’s counting!). We still have end of year RANDA things to complete, exams to administer, students who become increasingly ready for vacation, etc. At the high school many of us have rooms to pack up for yet another move. We have some events on the horizon which are more fun like the Teacher Appreciation Party and graduation! And then………..summer!!! And a long one at that!

Before we look forward to that, however, we have a very important task which is to do everything we can do to pass the budget. As you know the referendum is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 24th at the Middle School. If you live in town is very important that you vote and vote YES. There will be an option to vote against the budget saying that it is too low but members of the Board of Education and Superintendent of School Paul Smith are urging people to vote YES. Passing this budget as it currently stands with a 0.65% increase will save the jobs of those teachers whose jobs are in jeopardy. No teachers will lose their jobs if this budget passes on May 24th. There is also a good possibility that after it passes some money will be put back into the budget since the anticipated cuts in the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grants from the state were much less severe than anticipated. Governor Malloy proposed a cut of $600,000 to East Hampton but the budget which was passed by the State legislature restored nearly $300,000. Even if the Town Council does not restore funds to the schools we have been assured that the teachers’ jobs will be saved. It is critical that we do all that we can to pass the budget because if it fails we will get a 0% budget and three teachers currently employed will lose their jobs. PLEASE do all that you can to save teachers’ jobs and stand up for our students.

I have 100 lawn signs that say VOTE YES! If you live in town and would like one or two or more please let me know and I will arrange for you to get them. Just as importantly we will be operating a phone bank prior to the election. We will be calling all CEA members who live in East Hampton and urging them to support the budget by voting YES on May 24th. Finally you can use your social networks, online and otherwise, to ask all of your friends and family to get out and vote YES on Tuesday, May 24. Together we can save jobs and programs. Please do everything that you can.

Thanks to all of the teachers I have seen at Board of Education meeting, Finance meetings and Town Council meetings. Your involvement has not gone unnoticed! Remember that we are stronger together and this has been and continues to be an opportunity to demonstrate that strength.

Have a great end of the school year and a wonderful, relaxing summer!

Teacher Appreciation Program

Help Us Celebrate!

Please come and join us to celebrate our colleagues' nominations for the annual TAP award. The celebration will be held on May 19 at 3:45 at Campagna Restaurant in Portland.

To RSVP, please click here.

High School Nominations

Jim Angelo

One of the most respected and valuable teachers in the high school, Jim goes above and beyond his role as the industrial arts-technology education instructor. Since he worked in his field of study in building and architecture, he can relate those experiences to students—such as introducing innovative techniques and holding to professional standards. As a mentor to many students and staff members alike, he has taken on a variety of leadership roles within the school community—especially when evaluating and establishing our school’s positive climate. The students look up to Jim as a supporter of their personal and academic futures. As an EHEA member, he has attended many events—from challenging legislators in Hartford to recognizing and helping explain local and national developments. Jim has worked to thoroughly understand current issues and, most importantly, our right as professionals.

Sherry Banack

We are nominating Sherry Banack for possessing the exceptional characteristics of a superb teacher and department leader. Not only does she demonstrate enthusiasm for student learning, but she also supports and motivates five other math teachers and a math tutor on a daily basis and serves to educate/engage parents and the community on the role the mathematics department has in the education process at the high school.

Sherry is always investigating ways to engage and enhance student learning through new authentic activities and performance tasks that both support learning objectives and are relevant and enjoyable to her students. From building “tin men” to apply concepts of surface area in her Geometry class, to leading Pre-Calculus students to discovering radians through jump roping, to video creation by AP Calculus student to present their advanced knowledge and creativity. She strives to keep interest high and content relevant. She also oversees a team of students in the Moody’s Mega Math Challenge which is a consecutive 14 hour applied mathematics modeling contest focused on presenting solutions to real-world issues.

In her role as team leader, Sherry represents the math department to incoming students and parents. She is an active member of the shoreline mathematics consortium and is the backbone to the team of math teachers at the high school. She routinely shares important curriculum related materials and tools with the team. Most recently, Sherry attended workshops on the new SAT and worked with the math team to develop practice materials to ensure the high school in on the forefront of preparation for student success.

Sherry’s commitment to students and the math department makes her respected and endeared. Those that have her as a teacher or team leader know how fortunate they are to have such a dedicated and caring individual on their side.

Katie Tietjen

It is with sincere pleasure that I am writing this letter of recommendation for Katie Tietjen. I have had the opportunity to work with Katie this school year as our Library Media Specialist. Based on my observations of Mrs. Tietjen, I can honestly say that she is one of the most dedicated and hardworking teachers with whom I have had the opportunity to co-teach.

Katie has taught me about what it means to inspire and engage our students. She came to me at the beginning of the school year with an idea about co-teaching classes and she volunteered her services for the senior Capstone project which we were piloting this year at the high school. I was impressed with her enthusiasm and willingness to help in the education process. Katie has been there since the start, helping our senior students with the research portions of their projects—creating student driven lessons where students explored project options and worked together while mind mapping possibilities using various resources. Since then, Katie has never relented in helping both students and teachers tackle this project; through countless hours spent conferencing with students and meeting with teachers, Katie has become a crucial member of the Capstone team.

In addition to Katie’s senior Capstone project endeavors, she has created a “Maker Space” in our library media center. Mrs. Tietjen has applied for several mini-grants and obtained numerous kinesthetic resources for students. With help from our students, she has set up a room where students can “tinker.” The room has a focus on robotics and technology, containing items for students to take apart, create, and explore—building skills essential for the 21st century. So far, students have learned to code, turned ordinary objects into musical instruments, and created two functioning computers for use in the space.

Katie shows that same enthusiasm, dedication, and innovation in all that she does, whether that is as the library media specialist or as a co-teacher. Her involvement is admirable. Katie is always thinking of ways to contribute to our school. Whether it’s beginning the Student Library Committee, the Coding Club, or the numerous library websites she has created, her only goal is always to help make EHHS a better place to be and to learn.

I am certain that Mrs. Tietjen will continue to conquer the challenges presented as an educator. She will no doubt tackle these challenges head-on with tenacity, perseverance, and good humor, working as a leader among her peers. It is my sincere honor and privilege to recommend Katie, as a stellar educator, for special recognition in appreciation of all she does for our East Hampton education community.

Middle School Nominations

Jody Dumeer

I would like to nominate East Hampton Middle School ELA teacher Jody Dumeer as a recipient of the 2015-2016 East Hampton Education Association Teacher Appreciation Program.

Mrs. Dumeer is an extremely knowledgeable educator that challenges every student’s capabilities and attention to detail, never letting students settle for anything less than their absolute best. Mrs. Dumeer’s respect for both the East Hampton school district and the town of East Hampton are evident in the thousands of students she has highly educated in her tenure here at East Hampton Middle School.

Mrs. Dumeer has also served as both EHMS building representative and corresponding secretary for many years with our local teacher’s union , East Hampton Education Association. Her vast knowledge of representing fellow EHMS teachers has helped EHEA immensely. In addition, Mrs. Dumeer has spent many, many hours coordinating this very TAP event for us every year.

Mrs. Dumeer also has devoted her summers in Hartford overseeing the educating young adults at the regional Greater Hartford theater program. In fact, many students from East Hampton have spent summertime participating in this extraordinary program.

Rachel Mansfield

I would like to nominate East Hampton Middle School Social Studies teacher Rachel Mansfield as a recipient of the 2015-2016 East Hampton Education Association Teacher Appreciation Program.

Mrs. Mansfield is a wonderful educator that combines fantastic classroom management while always maintaining a positive energy with students and staff—a tall order in today’s Common Core, Smarter Balance, and data driven generation.

Mrs. Mansfield also has directed shows for the EHHS Drama Club, the EHMS Drama Club, and the Young People’s Center for Creative Arts (YPCCA). Rachel and her staff work extremely well together and always put together a great show. On a personal note, the EHHS production of Grease that I attended a couple of years ago was really impressive!

Pamela Penn

I would like to nominate East Hampton Middle School and East Hampton Center School Speech and Language specialist Pam Penn as a recipient of the 2015-2016 East Hampton Education Association Teacher Appreciation Program.

Mrs. Penn is an extremely knowledgeable speech and language educator that spends countless hours improving student’s confidence in learning and participating in the classroom.

Mrs. Penn has also served as both EHMS assistant building representative for many years with our local teacher’s union, East Hampton Education Association. Pam has a great knowledge of our teacher’s contract, spending many hours with the EHEA negotiations team helping craft and prepare our teacher’s contract and negotiate with the East Hampton Board of Education.

Mrs. Penn also has devoted weeks of the school year to overseeing the EHMS Drama Club. Her hard work pays off with outstanding performances year after year by our East Hampton Middle School students.

Pamela Penn was Notminated by Two Colleagues

A tireless advocate for the students in her care, Pam Penn is a wonderful teacher and an educator worthy of all the appreciation that can be awarded to her. She is consistently on top of the speech and language needs of her students, helping teachers to find and create materials to help them, but she doesn’t stop there. All students in the building can benefit from her expertise, as evidenced by the way she co-teaches and the innovations she offers.

However, she’s not just a tremendous teacher and colleague. She has worked long hours to make EHMS drama programs the popular, fun activities they are. Coordinating dozens of cast and crew, planning and leading dozens of rehearsals, Pam has made Mulan, Willy Wonka, and Peter Pan come to life on our stage, helping students create memories that will last for years.

Finally, Pam has served her colleagues as a union representative for many years, as a building rep and as a member of the negotiations team. No one can know the time and effort that she has expended on behalf of teachers in need, whether they needed representation, whether they deserved appropriate working conditions, or whether they needed an issue addressed in school. So many issues are handled calmly and discreetly, and Pam has worked hard with our other building rep to make EHMS a better place for everyone on the staff.

Center School Nominations

Patrice Ashburner-Smith

I am proud to announce that I will be nominating Patrice Ashburner-Smith for the Teacher Appreciation Award this year. Patrice has been teaching Special Education for over 37 years and is a respected colleague and friend of mine. She displays nothing but determination, hard work, and effectiveness with students, even with the most sensitive cases. Patrice maintains a positive, friendly, and professional attitude, which is something to be modeled.

Patrice is committed to everything she does in and out of the classroom and her knowledge and enthusiasm for teaching and learning always keeps the best interest of the students in mind. Her creative ideas go beyond rudimentary skills that continually enhance student learning. She can always find a way to diversify teaching by bringing her musical skills into the classroom. In addition, she is a life-long learner who never hesitates to take on a new challenge that will keep the best interest of the student in mind. This year, she took on the trial of working with her co-teachers to implement Assistive Technology to students, and because of her willingness and their teamwork, students have been successful with new devices and programs.

Her expertise in reading is something she has modeled for myself and other colleagues for years as well. Whether it’s bringing a musical spin to the classroom, or confirming foundational skills, she has a way of broadening students’ knowledge and skills. Patrice is always willing to share her knowledge by not only teaching students, but colleagues as well. I always look forward to learning from Patrice, and I know many other colleagues feel the same way!

Patrice’s calm demeanor is something to be simulated by her peers. Her precise and tranquil delivery to students brings enthusiasm and success to learning in her classroom. She always knows how to work with students both behaviorally and academically to guarantee success. I have noticed for years how she get to know her students and their learning needs from the start, and you can see that her methodology guarantees the best teaching is delivered to students.

Her pleasing manner also enables her to interact well with parents, staff, and students. Patrice works collaboratively with her colleagues ensuring that we constantly seek to meet student needs in the most paramount way we can. She always finds time to meet with teachers to discuss student needs, then she advocates for their needs to ensure the best is being done for students. She is constantly putting in extra time and effort beyond the school day to make sure students are learning but also having fun! She focuses on academics but also knows the importance of having time for music, crafts, games, and gingerbread houses that can boost learning in a different way!

Patrice is one of the most caring people I have ever met at Center School, and she continues to learn and grow as a teacher. It is a privilege to work so closely with her and get to share a room with her! She is well-deserved of this award. Her knowledge, expertise, and patience to the Special Education Department and to the 4th and 5th grade teams is appreciated beyond words.

Pam Peter Cohen

With East Hampton’s recent adoption of the Lucy Calkins units of study for Reading and Writing, teachers at Center School are fortunate to work with a knowledgeable, hardworking, and dedicated professional, Pam Peter Cohen, our reading consultant, who has provided countless time and extraordinary efforts to make this transition a positive one for both teachers and students.

Pam is truly a reading expert whose love of reading and books is clearly obvious to everyone at Center School. Walk into her classroom and you will see an entire wall dedicated to children’s literature. At any moment a student can ask for a book recommendation or a teacher can ask for a selection to supplement a unit of study and Pam has the book at her fingertips. Pam has worked diligently to unlock the Common Core Standards for the staff to make them clear and easy to understand. She has summarized mini lessons and bends succinctly to make them manageable and user friendly. On a daily basis you can see her donning many roles including coaching, collaborating and planning with staff as well as remediating or enriching students.

Pam also is involved in many extracurricular activities at Center School and within the district. She is an adviser to the Center School Student Counsel whose mission is to encourage students to become involved in caring for their community. She is instrumental in organizing annual food drives for East Hampton’s local food bank and spearheads monthly spirit days to promote a positive school climate at Center School. In addition, Pam is active in our union, holding a leadership role within our building as well as volunteering to be a member for our recent Contract Negotiations Committee and Center School’s committee to hire our new principal, Mary Clark.

Pam’s expertise, leadership, and dedication to the profession of teaching are truly a gift to Center School. We feel fortunate to call her both an educational peer and a friend. For these reasons we would like to honor her with this recognition.

Memorial School Nominations

Stacey Gibson

The kindergarten team would like to nominate Stacey Gibson for the TAP award. Stacey shows great dedication to the teaching profession, her students and the community. Stacey’s enthusiasm, energy and positive approach with her students, their families and her colleagues makes her an exceptional teacher! She challenges and sets high expectations for her students with a wonderful balance of support and encouragement. As a member of the kindergarten team, she demonstrates creativity and initiative by creating superb curriculum activities. For example, she created a social skills yearlong unit to support our PBIS program for the entire kindergarten. Stacey saw a need, then decisively problem solved until the program was developed. She continually considers the needs of her own students, as well as those of all kindergartners.

As a TEAM mentor for beginning teachers, she shares her wealth of knowledge and expertise, while supporting the growth of the new teachers she works with. Her colleagues know that Stacey is the “Go To” person who will always provide assistance when needed.

Stacey Gibson demonstrates professional leadership by being on the district ELA committee. She has assisted writing ELA curriculum, finding resources to support the curriculum and seeking out professional development opportunities for her team.

Stacey has cultivated strong parent and community relationships. She is an active member of the PTO. She fosters strong home/school connections, always inviting parents into her classroom for a variety of activities, provides class newsletters and e-mail blasts.

We know that Stacey Gibson exemplifies what the Teacher Appreciation Program stands for! Put simply, Stacey is AWESOME and deserves to be recognized by her peers for being an outstanding teaching professional.

Donna Kirk

I would like to nominate Mrs. Donna Kirk for a TAP award this year. Mrs. Kirk’s dedication to students, staff and community is obvious to those who know her. Donna spends countless hours devoting her time towards East Hampton school district school and community. For example she participates in such leadership roles as:

  • GIFT Program (Generation Investing in Friendships Together)
  • TEAM District co-facilitator as well as district mentor and paper reviewer
  • Math Team Leader as well as providing presentations and support to staff providing workshops in Touch Math
  • District Math Vertical Team
  • EHEA Building representative.

Donn’s willingness to drop everything and listen to colleagues is greatly appreciated and she makes other her first priority. Mrs. Kirk is innovative and creative. She collaborated with Kindergarten and the community to collect money for a very worthy cause, Puppies for Pennies. She is always listening to per input and communicating successfully to meet everyone’s needs. She works on a district committee as well that is investigating ways to improve community relations and build school morale through PBIS. Donna is an example to other teachers and colleagues and we are so fortunate to have her here in East Hampton.

Joy Mekrut-Suzio

This nomination is for Joy Mekrut-Suzio. Joy has been a speech pathologist in the East Hampton school system for many years. She has shared her expertise in many grade levels and positively impacted many students and their families! Joy continually strives to make a strong home school connection via positive and consistent communication. She accomplishes this by sharing updates and strategies for speech and language concepts so that parents are not only aware of what their child is working on, but how they can support their child’s progress at home.

Joy makes learning fun and builds confidence in her students. She uses a sense of humor, employing a hands-on, authentic learning approach to her teaching. She is very reflective when thinking about how her students learn best. She is always researching and seeking out training on techniques to enhance her teaching.

Joy is innovative with her use of technology. She utilizes a variety of technology such as the use of Boookmaker, iPad apps, and communication boards in novel and creative ways to teach her objectives, while challenging and fostering growth in her students. Joy is a great resource for her fellow teachers. She is a valued member of the Speech and Language, Pre-school, First Grade and district’s Assistive Technology teams.

In her collaboration with others, she is flexible and accommodating with teachers’ and students’ needs and schedules. Joy is always willing to share resources she has or brainstorm ideas to support her colleagues. She is a lifelong learner who is always discovering new materials or learning new strategies that she can utilize while working with her students. Joy demonstrates great integrity and dedication as a teaching professional. East Hampton is fortunate to have Joy. She has earned the respect and recognition of her peers for this Teacher Appreciation award.

Your Money Matters

Union Discounts and Benefits

The summer is just around the corner. As thoughts of beaches and vacations fill your daydreams, you may consider checking out the discounts and programs NEA and CEA have to offer members. Also consider checking here if you are thinking about buying a home, need a loan, or want to go back to school. You will need your member number to access many of these discounts, so have your ID card ready.

NEA Member Benefits

CEA Travel and Discounts

CEA Legal Services

CEA Credit Card and Home Financing Program

Boston Museum of Science Free Teacher Membership

Also, a friendly reminder that East Hampton teachers receive 50% off graduate school tuition at Wesleyan.

Calendar of Events

Ethnic Minority Affairs Commission Open House

Thursday, May 26th, 4:30-7pm

134 Berlin Road

Cromwell, CT

Learn why Ethnic Minority Affairs Commissions (EMACs), both statewide and local, are critical to diversity and the education of all students, including:

  • The discriminatory impact of testing on ethnic minority students and teachers
  • Strategies for ethnic minority hiring and retention
  • The effect of systemic racism
  • The need to take action locally and at the state capitol

Gain knowledge on how to build state and local EMACs by

  • Organizing EMACs (Local/State/National)
  • Strengthening ties to partner groups and organizations
- See more at:

General Membership Meeting

Thursday, June 2nd, 3:45pm

Center School, East Hampton, CT

Please plan on attending the EHEA General Membership meeting held at Center School in the library.

Hands Across the Green Golf Tournament

Monday, July 11th, 8am

Glastonbury Hills Country Club, Glastonbury

Summer Leadership Conference

Thursday, Aug. 4th, 9am

1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard


Contact Steve Archibald to attend the Summer Leadership conference put on by CEA. The conference starts on August 4th and goes to August 6th.

SAVE THE DATE: Annual EHEA Back to School PIcnic

Thursday, Sep. 8th, 3:45pm