Mideastern Region PSEA

March 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.

Author's Note

I'm certain that your Back-to-School or Open House presentation at the beginning of the school year or semester did not include information about how your course will be adapted in the event of a pandemic - yet here we are, educators rising with an unprecedented challenge. Thank you for all you are doing in your classroom, office, library, shop, garage, kitchen, bus, van, truck, or house to help deal with the situation at hand.

The PSEA office in Montgomeryville will be closed for the next two weeks in order to comply with the governor's mandate for helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus. We are cancelling or postponing all governance events and will be in touch with those members who will be impacted by these changes. During this office closure, our PSEA staff are working remotely and will continue to assist our members with both the regular and unique challenges before us, including making sure that our EA and ESP members are paid during these uncertain times.

Fulfill your professional obligations in a way that best resonates with your abilities, take time to get items checked off your long-term to-do list, and take care of your family, students, and colleagues. PSEA will continue to be here to advocate and help.

- Bill Senavaitis, PSEA Mideastern Region President

Friend of Education Nominations

The Mideastern Region Friend of Education Award is bestowed upon an individual or organization whose leadership, acts, or support has significantly benefitted education, education employees, or students in the Mideastern Region. Past recipients of the award include two state senators, a state representative, a public radio personality, and several community organizations.

If you know of an individual or organization that would be deserving of this award, please take a minute to make a nomination. Nominees will be reviewed by region officers with the winner receiving the award at our April 23 House of Delegates.

FREE Internet Essentials from Comcast

Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Comcast is offering 2 months free to new Internet Essentials customers in response to recent and anticipated emergency measures associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here for more details.

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!

Weekend Happier

Take a look at the latest blog post from Central Bucks EA member Suzanne Dailey - and consider joining us for her Act 48/Chapter 14 event on Monday, April 20th at Spring-Ford High School.

This is Why Soap Works

"In an age of robotic surgery and gene therapy, it is all the more wondrous that a bit of soap in water, an ancient and fundamentally unaltered recipe, remains one of our most valuable medical interventions."

Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. But why? Here's a great explanation from the New York Times - a little science for your day!

Save on your Prescriptions

No matter what type of insurance you have or who provides it, this group has the potential to save you and your family money! Give it a try... this will go one of two ways:

  1. You enter your information, discover that there's a savings, and use the coupon

  2. You enter your information, discover that the prices listed are not less than your current copay, and continue to use your insurance for the prescription as you have in the past.

In short, you can use one method, but not both, to get the lowest price available. GoodRx operates this website as well as an app.

33rd Annual CAPS "Touch the Future" Art Show

THANK YOU to Lynne Pribis (Upper Dublin EA) and Mike Werner (North Penn EA) for their work co-chairing the 33rd Annual CAPS "Touch the Future Art Show." We had a full house at Arcadia on Sunday, March 1st for the awards ceremony, recognizing students from across our region for their artistic talents. Please take a few minutes to view this year's pieces, or stop by the Arcadia University Commons before March 27th to view the gallery in person!

Don't Wait Until You are Sick

Many of the healthcare plans offered in our area feature some type of service such as Teladoc or MDLive for members to have remote access to a physician - but there's a one-time medical history set-up before you can utilize the service. Take a few minutes today to create your account while you are well so that you have quick access to care if you become sick.

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.

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

And the Orchestra Plays On

What does the Philadelphia Orchestra do when the city recommends suspending gatherings of more than 250 people and the musicians are ready to perform? The Orchestra plays on.

On March 12, the Philadelphia Orchestra performed Beethoven's Symphonies 5 & 6 to an empty Verizon Hall but an exceptionally appreciative Facebook Live audience. You can view the performance here, along with a variety of other ways to bring the magic of the orchestra to your home.

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.

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!

Would you like to be an employee of PSEA?

Check out this website for a complete posting of employment opportunities with PSEA, including information on how to learn about becoming a UniServ representative. For additional information, please contact Cathy Smyth at csmyth@psea.org.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

"Human beings like certainty. We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening when and to notice things that feel threatening to us. When things feel uncertain or when we don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed. This very reaction, while there to protect us, can cause all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us." Please take a minute to read the rest of this article from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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!

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!
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Career and Technical Education Networking Group

Registration is now open for our May 26th Spring CTE Networking Group. EA and ESP members from our tech schools are invited to attend an evening of networking that will include a presentation on current trends in special education from Judith Petruzzi, PSEA Director of Education Services. Registration is FREE and includes dinner!

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.

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Local Spotlight: Hatboro Horsham EA

The 44th Keith Valley Challenge was held on Friday, February 21. Hundreds of eighth graders participated in the 14-hour floor hockey tournament in order to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The KV Challenge ran from 10 a.m. to midnight and the kids raised over $40,000 which adds to a total of over $1 million raised to date. It is the largest Make-A-Wish Foundation student fundraiser in the country. The kick-off assembly featured special guests Senator Maria Collett, State Representatives Tom Murt and Todd Stephens, 6 ABC Anchor Katie Katro, President and CEO Dennis Heron of Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, Delaware and Susquehanna Valley.

The Keith Valley Challenge began in 1977 in memory of eighth grade student Billy Whitehead who passed away from a rare congenital heart disease. Following his death, administrators, faculty, staff and students sponsored a floor hockey marathon and pledged to raise money for charity. In 1981, the marathon changed its name to the Keith Valley Challenge. The Make-A-Wish Foundation has been the recipient of the Challenge for several years.

What's CBESPA? 960 Kindergardeners Know!

Central Bucks ESP members distributed coloring books to all 960 kindergarten students in their district so students can learn about Support Staff and the important work they do in our buildings. This effort was part of Read Across America Day, celebrated by a number of familiar faces.

Help Us Plan for Next Year

It's nearly time for us to begin considering what types of events and trainings to offer for the 2020-2021 school year! We'd love your input as we begin this process. Please use this link to let us know how we can best support you and your colleagues in the future.

PSEA Personal Legal Services Program Partner

Whether new to the profession or a long-standing public school teacher, the professional standards faced by Pennsylvania public school employees are some of the strictest within the Commonwealth. The school workplace is highly regulated; the interaction with and responsibility over children is highly scrutinized. There are background checks, forms, reporting requirements and tracking – all in place to ensure students are not only learning but also safe. Therefore, when a teacher or other public school employee is accused or convicted of a crime, he or she can face severe personal and professional consequences.

Such accusations are serious, but fear is not the answer. It helps to know the law, understand one’s obligations and most importantly, find the right attorney – one well-versed in both the criminal justice system and the professional guidelines set forth by regulators. For more information, please visit our website.

Google Certification Camps

If you are interested in earning your Google Certification we have a training opportunity for you! It will occur from 9am-3pm on July 20-21 (Level I) and 9am-3pm on July 22-23 (Level II) at DelVal University. The cost is $125 per two-day course, which includes breakfast, lunch, training, and a voucher for a Google exam. The training is Act 48/Chapter 14 eligible. Each class is capped at 55 participants - sign up early to be guaranteed a spot! For additional information and to register, please visit this link.

When and How to Report Suspected Child Abuse

The documents below, prepared by our PSEA Legal Division, are the most current guidance available on reporting obligations of mandated reporters. Periodic review of this information helps us all to make sure we are in compliance with the law and our duty as educators. Please take a few minutes to review the content, and save it in case you or a colleague need it in the future.

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)

Removing Barriers to Learning

In November, we gathered a group of PSEA members at our office to begin discussing how we can all work together to help our students be healthy and successful. On Thursday, May 7th at 5pm we will continue those solutions-oriented dialogues. The event will feature a model of how PSEA members worked together to collect data and support their students, an update on advocacy and legislative efforts in Harrisburg, and time to work with a team of professionals from your local to begin developing your own path to improved student mental wellness.

For this event, we are asking you to bring a TEAM from your local that may include: school counselors, psychologists, nurses, social workers/home and school visitors, dental hygienists, health/PE teachers, and support staff professionals. Additionally, your team needs to include a strong advocate – someone who is comfortable having direct conversations with administrators and school board members about the needs of your students (think local president or other officers). Registration for this FREE event is open to all EA and ESP members and includes dinner.

PSEA Personal Legal Services Program Partner

John Cordisco, Esq., a former teacher and school board member, has been supporting and representing injured PSEA members for years. Cordisco & Saile LLC has six local offices which are convenient for Mideastern Region/Division members (Bensalem, Bristol, Langhorne, Doylestown, Quakertown, and Bethlehem). Cordisco & Saile LLC offers PSEA members and their family, through the PSEA Personal Legal Services Program, the following services:

  • A free case evaluation
  • Contingency-based legal fees: You don’t pay a fee, unless we win!
  • 50+ years of combined legal experience with multimillion-dollar results

For more information on how Cordisco & Saile can fight for you, contact them today using this website or by calling 215-642-2335.

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

Hope Lodge

What doesn't go away during a pandemic? The fight against cancer. The AstraZeneca Hope Lodge next to Fox Chase Cancer Center has 72 patients and caregivers from all over the country staying at their facility right now - and they continue to need the same supplies they always have. Consider helping out with an item from their wish list today.

What's Your Plan for April 28th?

If you are a registered voter in Pennsylvania, you can request a mail-in ballot (no reason needed!) for the April 28th primary. If you are not yet registered to vote, start the application today!

Home Together During a Pandemic

"For many couples, togetherness organically alternates with separateness, as they bid farewell to each other in the morning and reconnect in the evening. When this pattern is disrupted, what gets highlighted is how much we rely on cycles of closeness and distance to keep our relationships happy and healthy." Click here for the full article from Psychology Today.

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.

Save the Dates

Region House of Delegates - April 23, Spring Mill Manor

ESP House of Delegates - April 22-25, Lancaster Marriot at Penn Square

PSEA House of Delegates - May 15-16, Wyndham Grand - Pittsburgh

PSEA Summer Leadership Conference - July 26-30, Gettysburg College

Department of Pupil Services Conference - August 4-5, Nittany Lion Inn

For a complete list of PSEA statewide events, please click here.

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)