East Windsor Education Association

July 2, 2017
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Seda-Schreiber WINS NEA Social Justice Activist of the Year!


HE did it!
WE did it!
Robt Seda-Schreiber, art teacher from Melvin H. Kreps, was nominated by Chris Carpenter to be one of the finalists for the 2017 NEA Social Justice Activist of the year. It worked! After researching all of the MANY wonderful things Robt has done in the name of social justice, Robt became one of seven finalists…quite an honor. Then, you stepped in. You listened and voted from school…and voted from home, and got buddies to vote, and kids to vote and a dog or two to vote.
And Robt won!
I am so proud of him…and so proud of all of you for getting the job done.

The winner was announced at the NEA Social Justice Conference last week, and your elected NEA/RA delegates, and other delegates from Mercer County were on hand to go crazy with Robt

Read the story at http://educationvotes.nea.org/2017/06/29/new-jersey-art-teacher-honored-2017-social-justice-activist-year/#.WVW_0uXBK_0.facebook

Here is what Robt had to say as he accepted the award:
Thank you. I cannot express what this means to me and the gratitude I feel for the respect and love being shown in its giving.
Social Justice Activism is in my blood and imprinted on my soul. I was named for a Kennedy and a King. I marched on DC in the womb and I’ve followed the path ever since. Boots always on the ground.
I am twelve and my parents tell me that my beloved Uncle Les is gay. He couldn’t come out until now because his father, my Poppy, wouldn’t have understood. Now sadly my Poppy is dead but my Uncle can finally be who he has always been.
Thirty-five years later, I meet Vincent V., a student who because of his otherness is bullied to the extent that he must be home-schooled. I become his advocate and his family’s partner in a difficult legal battle with his district, resulting in that district paying for Vincent to attend our school. Safe at our school, Vincent flourishes: finally able to realize who he is & who she has always been. Vincent becomes Vee, now Vita, our school’s first transgender student and she allows me the honor of helping her with that transition. Vee’s bravery and self-realization is a gift to our entire school and our greater community and to me personally: a concrete example of the power of outreach, an abstract made very real. A life saved; a life realized.
An extraordinary story indeed but not uncommon in schools that allow Gay Straight Alliances to exist. The very existence of GSAs save lives every day, both literally and figuratively. By simply existing, these groups make kids feel safer, more accepted and indeed more loved. Sometimes, oft-times, this is what allows some students to get up in the morning, traverse those very intimidating hallways & make it through their sometimes, oft-times, very difficult days. GSA’s are not just for LGBTQI kids either, they are in no way exclusionary, hence the word straight in the very name of the group. It’s a safe space for all kids to listen to and to learn from each other, lend a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on.
Being in a GSA keeps kids off the streets, out of the hospitals, away from the jails, safe from their own hands and even moreso, the hands of others. I forged the first middle school GSA in New Jersey and it has since inspired similar groups across our state, indeed across the country. GSAs are love and love is contagious. They are a wonderful and inspiring microcosm of community-building: kids reaching out to other kids, creating relationships and forming identities through conversation, mutual understanding, and respect. Simply hearing and seeing each other and simply being heard and being seen, for some of them, for the very first time…
That’s how we learn, we grow, we understand – It is indeed Social Justice. We can’t do it without each other, hence the “social” part.
Empathy for others, a deeper understanding of our brothers and sisters of every color, gender (or lack thereof), religion (or lack thereof), national origin, or physical or mental disability allows us a wonderful and unique window to the world around us and the heart that beats within us all.
Listen.
Listen to your students. Listen to your colleagues. Listen to your friends, your family, your community.
Listen to those you love and those you hate.
Listen to a stranger. And then…
Be a voice for the voiceless. A friend to the friendless.
Love and respect all, and if you can’t do that, you have the include them anyway. Any movement that is not all-inclusive is not a movement at all. In fact it is a step backward; and we have surely taken too many of those recently.
We need to teach in the classroom, inspire in the hallways and be a force in our communities.
It may not seem like it, but these are our times. We will persevere, we will rise up, we will come out the other side – stronger, faster, better, with more folks on our side and at our backs.
Hold hands, lock arms, heads up, eyes clear, hearts full and minds wide open…
Boots on the ground.
Now and always

March 11, 2017
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EWEA Day a Success!

March 10th was our annual EWEA Day! This is a wonderful day each year when we celebrate our Association and it’s accomplishments. We also wear our union shirts with pride (and these are fabulous shirts, Jerry Simonelli…so thank you). Finally, we collect donations for the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education that we will present at the NEA/RA this summer.
Thanks to all of the shirt wearers, donators, donation collectors, picture takers, breakfast makers and supporters for another successful EWEA Day! Please tag yourself and your friends!
And if we get anymore pictures, we will happily post them

December 17, 2016
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2016 Mercer County Friends of Education Award Gala

On December 9, 2016, East Windsor Education Association members joined their Mercer County Education Association colleagues to honor individuals who dedicate themselves to making life better for the children of Mercer County at the first annual “Mercer County Friends of Education Awards Gala”. There was dinner, dancing, and comradery as we honored people of Mercer County.
Recipients included Ms. Tricia Baker who created the non-profit organization called A.I.R. (Attitudes in Reverse, Mary Ann Raccosta who has been an advocate for not only her own children but for other children with special needs as well. In 2012, Mary Ann wrote a book called The Survivor, The Hero & The Angel: A Mother’s Story – One Decade. This book has helped many parents come to terms with their children’s disabilities. The final recipient was our own Wendell Steinhauer, for his tireless work on behalf of NJEA members and students.
If YOU would like to nominate someone for the 2017 award, please let EWEA President Ellen Ogintz know and she will get you the information you need to make that nomination.4-ladies-3

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October 23, 2016
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Flu Shot Social…OUCH!

Our annual “Flu Shot Social” was a big success! Almost 120 of us braved the needle and received a flu shot. Our EWRSSA colleagues, Dr. Katz and our Assistant Superintendent, Erin Servillo, took part in the festivities as well.
Our friends at Rite-Aid, led by the “ever popular” Katie Van Why and her staff, tried their best to keep us all smiling through the “tears”.
This year, we welcomed vendors from the approved vendor list of NJEA. They set up their tables and answered our questions eagerly. They gave out brochures, highlighters and good information.
Thank you, Bonnie Harber from California Casualty, Carol Walker from Buyer’s Edge, Cindy Cooper from Prudential, Eric Lorenz & George Kelly from Security Benefits, provider of NEA Retirement Benefits services, and EWRSD alumni Lauren Birish from Ascendancy Wealth Management. If you would like to contact ANY of these vendors, please let me (Ellen Ogintz) know.
A big thank you to our workshop chairperson, Merion Wells, for setting up the “party”. She made sure there were treats aplenty for all of the “good boys and girls” who got their shot without a fuss.
Without a fuss? Well, pictures don’t lie!

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October 23, 2016
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Fall Focus

Members of your local EWEA LAT and others came to the Mercer County Fall Focus. While there, we did our traditional “meet and greet” and discussed issues that are the focus of our legislative work this year…ESSA (Every Child Succeeds Act), Pensions, Chapter 78, and Privatization.
We all agreed that we are ready to fight the fight, and need NJEA to lead the charge.
We also committed ourselves, once again, to the election of Marie Blistan for NJEA President, Sean Spiller for NJEA Vice-President, and Steve Beatty for NJEA Sec/Treasurer.
You can meet Steve Beatty yourself at our EWEA Social on December 6th at Charlie Brown’s.
Stay tuned for information on writing and calling your State Senator in order to pass legislation to take PARCC scores OUT of your evaluation.

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October 15, 2016
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EWEA at the Hightstown Harvest Fair!

Some very brave members of the East Windsor Education Association braved the cloudy, then rainy day to volunteer at the Hightstown Harvest Fair on October 8th. We were out there to meet/greet our community member and friends. Thanks to the work of our PRIDE chairs Angela Yvonne and Esmeralda Leon we had very cool cell phone thingies that stick to the back of a cell phone and have a slot to store stuff in! We also suggested putting it in the inside cover of an assignment book as a place for special numbers…or words to know!
We schmoozed with our Freeholders, Andrew Koontz, Lucy Walter, and EW Mayor Janice Mironov. We saw our best buddy, Assemblyman Dan Benson, with his lovely wife Hande and GORGEOUS baby boy. We were also rooting for Denise Daniels who is running for EW Town Council.
And yes…our booth was RIGHT NEXT to a local vineyard selling…uh…grape juice?
We met lots of former students, currents students and many more people. The event….even in the rain…was a success!
Thank you Jolly Becerra, Esmeralda Leon, Vince Colucci, Frances Lavelle, Audrey Neveling, Sarah Vandervort, Kathy Dziuba, Jill Grois, Chris Carpenter, and Kathleen Carvalho for joining me, Ellen Steinman Ogintz on a day that could have been spent doing other things…

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September 18, 2016
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Robt Seda-Schreiber Receives “Courageous Class” Award!

Kenneth Cole’s “The Courageous Class” is made up of determined individuals who confidently overcome life’s challenges to become inspiring role models. This month, in honor of heading back to school, they highlighted three people fighting to improve education…and one was our own Kreps Middle School teacher Robt Seda-Schreiber!
This is from the website http://www.kennethcole.com/blog-courageous-class-spotlight-back-to-school-edidtion.html
Robt Seda-Schreiber
Teacher of the Year and Champion of Equality
Robt Seda-Schreiber has been an art and theatre teacher at Melvin H. Kreps Middle School in East Windsor, NJ for nearly twenty-five years.
What do you want to share with the world regarding youth and education?

Education is the cornerstone of any great civilization and the very fabric of our culture, no doubt, no diggity. Each and every one of us, should learn, grow and expand our horizons each and every day, and teachers are a small but integral part of that process. We all need to teach each other to learn from each other and be open to new ideas. A good teacher is a great learner and a great learner is a good teacher.

What people and/or events inspired you to do the work that you do today?

My wonderful folks showed me the path, my lovely bride holds my hand as I walk it, and my talented son shows me the horizon. My parents taught me love and respect for all, my wife helps me put it into practice, and my boy carries it upward and onward. I have always been inspired by those who speak out and allow others to rise up within their own communities. When one group overcomes injustice and inequality, it is a victory for us all. Whether it be MLK, Gandhi, Harvey Milk, Dolores Huerta, Muhammad Ali, Keith Haring, Kurt Vonnegut, or David Letterman, these men and women were true to themselves and true to their communities. They inspire all of us to be the best that we can be. Finally, much respect and love to my administration, my colleagues, my students and the community at large in which I work. This oh-so-supportive crew have been nothing but encouraging throughout the years and I truly couldn’t do what I do without them.

What is some advice you have for people trying courageously to change the world?

Don’t ever, ever make someone feel wrong or shamed for who they are or who they love; for the color of their skin or the texture of their hair; for the language they speak or the religion they practice (or indeed the lack thereof); for the ideas they hold dear or the lives they choose to lead. And don’t ever, ever stand idly by and let anyone else do so. Remember light will always dispel the darkness and love does indeed trump hate. The world can and will change—it’s entirely up to you whether you want to watch it happen or be the one who makes it happen. Last but not least, as my man Chuck D would say, “Fight the Power. Fight the powers that be!”

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August 31, 2016
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Welcome New Members!

On August 31, 2016, almost fifty…yes 50, new EWEA members joined 20+ members of the Executive Board for the “New Member Luncheon” at Scotto’s Ristorante. The new members listened intently as President Ellen Ogintz spoke to them about the EWEA…and how it is now their new family. They laughed too as they learned that EWEA is REALLY the East Windsor EATING Association! There were some raffle drawings as well…with some very excited winners. Our “newbies” were welcomed, encouraged, and motivated by Mercer County President Christine Sampson- Clark, NEA secretary/treasurer Sean Spiller and NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan. Everyone there confirmed that the EWEA is one of the BEST locals in the state…and I think the new members will soon agree.
Welcome:
Ethel McKnight School
Kristen Tang
Valerie Barbarise
Vincent Colucci
Caitlyn Borzone

Grace Norton Rogers School

Allison Dombrowski
Lauren Baranowski
Stefanie Cohen
Tiffany Acevedo
Alexis Mendoza
Belicia Perry-Green
Jaqueline Mendoza

Perry L. Drew School
Reina Calise
Jennifer Elgolany
Harley Place
Katelyn Coluccio
Stacey Lepes

Walter C. Black School
Miranda Sirimis
Jeffrey Branchek
Kiley Fellows
Howard Chandler
Stephanie Benjamin
Kaitlyn Springsteen
Jonathan Basmagy
Amy Wish
Taylor Katawck

Melvin H. Kreps Middle School
Gennine Damanski
Sara Price
Jeron Stephens
Ashley DeVincentz
Nicole Florio
Brianna Weiss
Stephanie Widdoes
Sarah Anders
Katherine Baseden
Melissa Maya
Evan Morris
Rueben Sutin
Courtney Raisch
Athena Kokinos

Hightstown High School
Cassandra Bunda
Brendan Connelly
Michael Friedman
Matthew Holsten
Kristina O’Dea
Christina Palmisano
Carmen Austin
Allyson Coryell
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August 25, 2016
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2016 NEA Representative Assembly Meeting… EWEA Was in the House!

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Reflections
By Sarah Vandervort – 1st time delegate

The opening scene was filled with music and dancing, and an electric energy of comradery and support, as some 8000 delegates packed into the Walter C. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, to kick off the 95th NEA Representative assembly on the 4th of July 2016.

Key Note
As we settled down from our excitement about beginning our important work, our energy quickly changed to sadness as our NEA president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, started her keynote speech, http://ra.nea.org/speech/2016/15489/, letting Orlando know that we were mourning with them. She continued painting a picture of a dangerous world, a world that needs us. “We are living under a toxic choking environment where entire groups of people are demonized, targeted, and terrorized.” She also painted a picture of hope, and strength, her closing statements being “We are fearless. We are warriors. We are what democracy looks like! Ya es tiempo. Now is the time. Go. Fight. Win.” And, as you could imagine, our spirits and energy returned and exceeded our initial feelings.

Amendments and New Business Items
Although we had already met as a state for a day and a half, an air of resolve filled the convention hall as the importance of the next four days quickly set in. Our days started with the 6:30 AM breakfast and the NJEA caucus where we decided OUR stand on major issues such as over testing, LGTB rights, immigration issues, and more. Then it was a subway ride to the RA, our days were filled with making amendments to our NEA constitution and by-laws, as well as introducing New Business Items. The New Business Items come from members like us,and determine NEA’s focus and budget for the upcoming year. NEA’s budget comes from OUR dues money, making it imperative that we decide how the money is spent! We were all there to support our students, no mater their race, color, gender orientation, or sexual orientation, and it became clear that a large portion of the RA would be focused on fighting against the fear and divisiveness that is so often intertwined in our political system. After discussion and friendly debate, educators decisively and repeatedly voted to fight for social justice and unity. Delegates also took a stance on current curriculums across our nation so that our students are exposed to more accurate accounts of history and acknowledgment of global warming.

Links are provided below to see amendments and a comprehensive list of the new business items that were presented and adopted:
• Amendments: http://ra.nea.org/business-items/?type=leg_amendment
• New Business Items: http://ra.nea.org/business-items/?type=nbi

Hilary Clinton Addresses the RA
Hilary Clinton’s message was strong. In her speech she stated “I am with you,” outlining her vision on how to strengthen public education, “TLC”- teaching, learning, and community, the pillars on which her vision is built. She also noted the stark difference between her plan and the plan of republican candidate Donald Trump, stating that he will dismantle the DOE, “leaving our most vulnerable students to fend for themselves.” She wrapped up by imploring us as educators “to work with me. Advise me, hold me accountable. And keep advocating for your students and profession.” And although there were many delegates who did not say “I’m With Her” at that point, everyone appreciated her presence and enthusiasm.

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Strong Union Equals Strong Schools
NEA’s executive Director John Stock’s speech emphasized the connection between strong public schools and a strong union. Focusing on the need for the newest educators to become members and become active, stressing that their voices need to be heard. “We must become relevant to them, to help them meet the changing needs of students… to help them be successful educators, and to tap into their idealism.” “We could feel the Bern”!http://ra.nea.org/speech/2016/remarks-prepared-delivery-nea-executive-director-john-stocks-95th-nea-representative-assembly/

Against the School-to-Prison Pipeline
NEA vice president Rebeca S. Pringle and NEA Executive Committee Member Kevin f. Gilbert gave a presentation about institutional racism. Encouraging members to vote yes to a policy statement that would combat the school to prison pipeline. “Gilbert stated, “we have an opportunity to be leaders… and steer our students away from criminal punishment and toward the success we all wish for them.

National Teacher of the Year
2016 National Teacher of the Year, Jahana Hayes gave a powerful and emotional speech about how her own teachers transformed her life and how we all have that power. http://ra.nea.org/speech/2016/remarks-prepared-delivery-national-teacher-year-jahana-hayes-95th-nea-representative-assembly/, “I know that for many of my students I am their only hope. It is those times when I am transformed into an advisor, counselor, confidant and protector I have made the commitment to help my students in the same way my teache3rs helped me.” She also stated the importance of our organization. “As a teacher, I am so emotionally invested in the success of my students that I sometimes forget that I deserve the r4espect and dignity of being a professional. [My union] ensures that I am treated like the professional that I am and my creativity is not stifled by mandates. My union advocates on my behalf and creates a structure that protects me…” If you click ANY of the blue links at all, click this one…you will be inspired.

Friends of Education Award
Senators Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, of Washington State, earn NEA’s highest honor- the Friends of Education Award. This is awarded to a person who has significantly contributed to the improvement of American public education. Alexander, the first republican to win this award in over 40 years, called for us to take a stand and say “no more Washington mandates telling us exactly how to evaluate teachers and whether schools are succeeding or failing. The path to better schools is through decisions by those closest to our children, not through a distant department in Washington D.C.” Murray stated “I look forward to continuing to work together so that every child in our nation has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.”

Thank you, EWEA members, for affording me the opportunity to attend the 2016 NEA/RA. It was exhilarating, exhausting, uplifting and…I can’t wait to go again!

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June 14, 2016
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Getting Jiggy Wit It!

Thanks to your social chair, Melanie Bowen, over 100 EWEA members schmoozed and feasted on great appetizers at Charlie Brown’s last week! Wraps, mozzarella sticks, potato skins, quesadillas, crab cakes…oh my!
To make things even better, EWEA raffled off 12 gift cards to places like Charlie Brown’s, Fernando’s Grill, Towne Diner, Prestige Diner and the Americana Diner! There were even a few Visa gift cards in the mix.
The “house was rockin'” as colleagues laughed and commiserated one last time before summer break.
Thanks to everyone for joining in the festivities…
“Every picture tells a story…”
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