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Week of 6-8-2020

A message from Rich Askey

During the COVID-19 emergency, PSEA’s goal is to support you.

Whether we’re providing updates on legislative activity, the latest news that impacts our schools, students, and livelihoods, or resources to help you teach kids in new and innovative ways, we want to do everything we can to help.

That’s why we’ll be doing this e-newsletter frequently.

I know that this is a tough, stressful time for you, your families, and your students. PSEA wants to make it easier by keeping in touch and offering good, helpful information.

So, have a look. And let’s keep connected.

Inside this issue

  • PSEA is committed to educational justice
  • My latest testimony to the state Senate Education Committee focused on higher education
  • CTC members go door-to-door handing out tassels and graduation gifts
  • On a bright note: Another creative approach to teaching in the time of COVID
  • PSEA’s Center for Professional Learning: Summer Learning Series
  • Check out PSEA’s COVID-19 resources

PSEA is committed to educational justice

PSEA is founded on commitments to equity and social justice for everyone, and we believe that everyone should be treated equally – period.

This idea lies at the heart of everything we do. It’s what prompted us to form the Educational Justice Committee last year. This group of dedicated PSEA members – members like Kizzy Nicholas, who had the above to say about what educational justice means to her – helps to promote issues related to racial and social justice.

Amidst the protests and demonstrations that are currently rippling across our nation, this idea carries an even greater weight and urgency.

You’ll be hearing more about our ongoing efforts to confront these issues, including from other members of our Educational Justice Committee in the upcoming July issue of Voice magazine

My latest testimony to the state Senate Education Committee focused on higher education

On June 9, I provided testimony to the state Senate Education Committee, encouraging the Legislature to join us in urging federal lawmakers to approve $175 billion in federal emergency aid to public education.

PSEA members in colleges and universities have made it clear to me that the challenges of reopening campuses are just as daunting as those facing K-12 schools – if not more so.

Larger campuses and the amount of student- and community-based activities that occur there make federal resources essential to ensuring that they can reopen in a way that keeps everyone safe and healthy.

And then there’s the economy. At a time when we’re looking to invest in our workforce, colleges and universities – and community colleges in particular – can help workers build new skills, enhance existing ones, and transition back into the labor force.

Cutting costs, increasing tuition, and limiting access to higher education isn’t the answer. Federal assistance is.

Pennsylvania lawmakers and Gov. Wolf have stepped up to ensure that colleges and universities receive a full 12 months of state funding – with no state funding cuts.

Now it’s the federal government’s turn. Click the link below to ask our U.S. senator to support federal emergency aid for public education.

CTC members go door-to-door handing out tassels and graduation gifts

Woodland Hills multimedia design teacher Philip Greene delivers graduation gifts to senior Michael Fletcher.


We’ve been asking members to share stories of how they’re celebrating the class of 2020. And the ones we’ve received have offered a wonderful glimpse into how different locals are marking this important milestone.

This one comes from George Karnbauer of Forbes Road CTC EA.

As a CTC, we have students from nine sending districts as well as several specialty schools and surrounding districts, covering the eastern half of Allegheny County,” Karnbauer said. “Our traditional in-person certificate ceremony was cancelled, so we moved to a virtual ceremony, streamed online with the traditional speeches, photos of each student posted as their names were called, class by class.

The biggest part of what we did was the morning of the ceremony, several members of the staff delivered their FRCTC tassels, and a gift to each of the 190 members of the graduating classes, to their homes.

My particular route to the 19 students in my Computer Networking program took me from the South Allegheny School district, through and over 100 miles, an eight-hour-15-minute tour, ending up in the Highlands school district.  

Seeing the faces of the students and their parents (many who had taken the day off to meet with us) was worth every minute of the day and brought such a good end to the lousy way the school year ended.

This idea came from our school counselor, Megan Tomley, and was completely setup and paid for by the teaching staff. I believe our seniors know that as a staff, we love and care about them. And that while an in-person graduation was what everybody wanted, in some ways this meant even more.

On a bright note: Another creative approach to teaching in the time of COVID

Every educator has had to step outside their comfort zone and come up with new ways of reaching students during these closures.

We thank everyone who has shared their stories of struggles and triumphs with us so far.

One heartwarming story comes from Sarah Grimm, who teaches deaf and hard-of-hearing preschoolers in the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

Though the closures have presented a unique challenge for her students, one thing she’s said has been a shining light is the opportunity for community to develop.

“I serve students itinerantly all across the county,” Grimm said. “Hearing loss is a low-incidence diagnosis, and all of my students are the only child in their school/childcare with hearing loss.”

To combat that isolation, Grimm has been inviting families to participate in paired Zoom meeting sessions, mixing and matching students each week with a different friend from across the county.

“My students (and families) have loved meeting and seeing others who are just like them, who wear hearing aids or use hearing-assistive technology when they don’t usually have that experience!”

She also has mailed out her own version of Flat Stanley to students (“Flat Ms. Sarah”), so she could be there with them even when she can’t be physically. She hears stories of how the children bring Flat Ms. Sarah to dinner or tuck her into their dollhouse before bed every night, and it’s touched her deeply.

“Knowing these students are missing normalcy and our time together makes every extra minute worth it, and I know I’m not alone in that,” she said. “Teachers everywhere are pouring out their love and passion for the job and their students in all new ways, and I’ve been amazed to see the field join together to support each other all across the world.”

PSEA’s Center for Professional Learning: Summer Learning Series

Here’s what we’ve got coming up to keep you earning Act48/Chapter 14 hours through the summer:


Act 48 Book Discussions

Check out PSEA’s COVID-19 resources

PSEA is committed to providing members with the most up-to-date information and resources on the COVID-19 emergency. We want to help you cope with this unprecedented challenge, and we want to make sure you have the tools you need to help your students.

Be sure to visit regularly. We update the information you’ll find there daily. Here are a few things you’ll find.

400 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101

This content is intended for PSEA members and their immediate families.

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