The “Year of Action” that was 2017-18

Christina Gillette Randle named 2018 Colorado Teacher of the Year

First-grade teacher and Harrison Association for Education Employees member Christina Gillette Randle (right) was named the 2018 Colorado Teacher of the Year today. Dr. Katy Anthes (left), Colorado’s Commissioner of Education, made the surprise announcement at a school assembly at Soaring Eagles Elementary School in Colorado Springs.

“Ms. Randle inspires a lot of people outside of this school too,” said CEA President Kerrie Dallman. “She is so good at teaching math, she often helps other teachers in this district and across the state with their lesson plans for their students. Lots of educators visit Ms. Randle to see what a model classroom should look like, and that’s a big part of why she is Teacher of the Year.”

Election night 2017 sees voters reaffirm support for public education

In communities across Colorado, voters affirmed their commitment to public schools and their unwavering support for our students. Pro-public education candidates were elected who will put student success first and will create the collaborative partnership that educators want with their administrators and elected school officials. Mill levy and bond measures were passed, ensuring some students will get relief in the future despite the state’s inability to properly fund our schools.

Key races in Aurora, Jefferson County, Brighton 27J, and Douglas County were all favorable to public education candidates in a clear voter rebuke of the corporatization of public schools. Mill and bond measures passed all over the state, ensuring that students found some relief despite the fact that the state fails to adequately fund our schools.

Last night’s election also reminded us that our education system in Colorado is still a system of “haves and have-nots”. There are many school districts out there that still don’t get the funding they deserve and there are many school districts out there that fall prey to outside interests. Out-of-state money pouring in to influence local elections is a pervasive problem; a problem getting worse every election cycle. For all of our victories, it’s educators at the forefront; spending your own hard-earned money through CEA’s Every Member Option (EMO) to advocate for the candidates and the issues that will help your students in the classroom.

PE teacher and SVVEA member wins California Casualty $20K award

From California Casualty:  Taking a pledge to avoid distracted driving has paid off for Christy Clark-Weese. The PE teacher at Coal Ridge Middle School in the St. Vrain Valley School District in Firestone, Colorado, is the recipient the $20,000 grand prize in California Casualty’s Promise to Drive Focused sweepstakes.

Clark-Weese said taking the pledge to stay focused while driving was very important. “I’m a role model for my students and even my own kids, and I need to be a good example,” she said.

Clark-Weese, who has taught at Coal Ridge Middle School for 13 years, feels blessed to be recognized. “I’m not used to being thanked or appreciated; you teach because you love kids.” She heard about the initiative through a CEA email.

In an effort to combat the growing epidemic of distracted driving crashes, California Casualty teamed up with the NEA and its affiliates, asking educators across the country to “make a promise to drive focused,” complimenting the efforts of Impact Teen Drivers, a nonprofit founded and supported by California Casualty to prevent inattentive driving. Surrounded by children every day, educators are important role models who know all too well how devastating the preventable death of a young person can be. The National Safety Council believes we can all reverse the trend of preventable traffic fatalities and injuries with a coordinated effort.

“We are dedicated to protecting educators,” said California Casualty Sr. Vice President Mike McCormick. “Each promise to drive focused created safer roads for them, their families and their students.”

More than 76,000 teachers, administrators and educational support professionals across the country took the pledge and became eligible for the grand prize drawing for a new Ford Focus or a check for $20,000.

Ms. Clark-Weese chose the cash option. She will use the funds to purchase a vehicle for her daughter who attends college out of state.

Pikes Peak Center for Learning opens

CEA leaders and NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss celebrate the opening.

NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss came to Colorado Springs, Sep. 20, to help launch the Pikes Peak Center for Teaching, Learning and Public Education. The first-in-the-region Center will offer courses developed and led by educators for educators and the communities they serve with the goal of helping students achieve success inside and outside of the classroom.

“Our educators are talented and innovative, and above all, they are experts in their fields. The Center brilliantly harnesses all of these qualities,” said Moss at the launch ceremony, held at the Ivywild School. “We are excited to play a role in the establishment of an initiative that will offer so much to so many and most importantly, help the students in the Pikes Peak region. That is what the Center is all about, student success.”

The Center was created by the Pikes Peak Education Association in response to member feedback on what PPEA could provide to help educators in the region’s 22 school districts. The Center will offer free and low-cost professional development courses, mentorship for new teachers, and leadership opportunities for seasoned education veterans.

“The Center reflects the values at the core of our Association – giving educators resources to ensure their students thrive and flourish,” said PPEA President Phyllis Robinette, a 32-year classroom veteran currently teaching 2nd grade in the Lewis-Palmer School District. “It’s been very exciting to create an innovative solution to meet the needs of our educators,” added Robinette, who serves as the Center’s executive director. “Being able to serve the communities that we teach in makes the Center and its work all the more rewarding.”

Before the launch ceremony, Robinette led a presentation on the Center’s goals and structure for Moss and CEA leaders and staff including President Kerrie Dallman, Vice President Amie Baca-Oehlert and Executive Director Brad Bartels. The Center’s unique approach to providing resources to educators has garnered significant support from CEA and NEA.

The Center is being funded in part with a GPS Fund Grant from the NEA because of the its focus on successful students, accomplished professionals, dynamic collaboration, and empowered leaders.

“We’ve learned a lot about what teachers need,” said Maureen Costello, the Teaching Tolerance Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, in her keynote address at the Center launch. “We know it’s really important to have collaboration and the sharing of best practices. We know that teachers need access to research and professional development, and the support of professional learning communities. And we do know that teachers learn best from each other.”

The Center will focus on five different pathways, each led by an expert educator in that subject matter. The Center’s curriculum will help educators tackle modern-day issues that arise in their classrooms such as technology, mindfulness, and student engagement. Relevant courses will also be open to the community, including topics such as suicide prevention awareness and restorative practices.

Visit www.ppea.org for more information and course offerings from the Pikes Peak Center for Teaching, Learning and Public Education. Stay in touch by liking thepikespeakcenter on Facebook and following @PikesPeak_EA on Twitter.

Community icon celebrated with book launch

Mi Mama, Alicia Sanchez is a bilingual Spanish and English book that tells the tale of Alicia Sanchez, a long-time Lafayette resident who took care of her community and founded Clinica Family Health, a network serving low-income people in Boulder, Broomfield and Adams Counties. On February 28, a book launch was held at Alicia Sanchez International, an IB elementary school in Lafayette, in celebration with Alicia’s daughter Eleanor Montour and their family. Mi Mama, Alicia Sanchez was written by Andrea Baeza Breinbauer, Elizabeth (L.) LeNard, and Hannah Mook, three dynamic students from CU Boulder who wanted to tell the story of a local hero. They wrote and illustrated the book and partnered with the Boulder County Latino History Project to bring Alicia’s story to life.

The Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley Education Associations had the incredibleopportunity to partner with CU Boulder and the Boulder County Latino History Project to fund additional publications of the book to provide a copy of each book to every school library in Boulder Valley and St. Vrain schools. Each school copy will include a teachers’ guide crafted by retired BVEA member, Flora Sanchez who now teaches education courses at CU. To order a copy for yourself or your school, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Mi-Mama-Alicia-Sanchez-Multilingual/dp/0997680946

Thousands descend on the state Capitol

On April 26 and 27, more than 14,000 educators from all over the state descended on the state Capitol to let lawmakers know that they “aren’t gonna take it anymore.” For more information, click HERE.

Pueblo educators score victory for students

With hundreds of educators, parents, students and members of Pueblo’s community chanting outside, the Pueblo Education Association today won concessions from the Pueblo City School District and accepted the district’s latest offer on May 12th, ending a five-day strike. The deal was ratified by members of the Pueblo Education Association and the Pueblo Paraprofessionals Education Association the following day. The agreement was reached after nearly seven hours of contentious bargaining.

“We are excited that we have tentatively agreed to a two-year deal and hope that this will allow us to change the  negative bargaining cycle that we have had over the last few years,” said Suzanne Ethredge, teacher and President of the Pueblo Education Association. “We felt we got the best deal we could get from administration and we’re excited our educators can get back into the classroom.”

“Our teachers and paraprofessionals braved the sun and the heat to march and rally for the thing they love:  their students,” said Ethredge. “I hope it was made loud and clear that parents, students and the Pueblo community are firmly behind its educators.”

Daily Kos article written by Colorado teacher Earl Poteet.