To sum it up, it's been a long summer. Over the past few months, many of our districts have seen unprecedented challenges as they face the reality of returning to school during the COVID 19 pandemic. There are no easy solutions to the problems that we face, however, we have seen that swift action by many of our local associations has created a network of educators who are willing and able to tackle these issues and create favorable conditions for teachers and students to return to school safely.
I am also aware that there are many of our locals who are struggling during this time. Budget cuts in the spring coupled with the crippling safety protocols and guidelines that must exist to welcome our students into our buildings have also ushered in a sense of uncertainty. Many of our buildings are not considered safe due to ventilation issues and lack of space in order to maintain the proper distance between students in a class. Other districts are grappling with transportation and scheduling issues - the infamous debate over "hybrid vs. remote" learning models has created heated discussions in our communities. It's essential that school leaders alongside parents and educators work together to solve these problems instead of the contentious battles we have seen in some of our locals.
On a personal note, I am proud of the work that NCTA has done over the spring and summer. Each Friday for the past few months, I have hosted virtual Regional Union Leader Meetings where up to 40 participants have come together to share ideas and network in order to assist in negotiations and learn from other locals. The MTA President, Ms. Merrie Najimy has also joined us to offer her support as well as offer us space at statewide virtual meetings to share what some of our locals have been doing. These regional union leader meetings have created an essential network of educators and I plan to continue hosting them into the school year. We have also drafted a statement that our locals are invited to share with their membership which can be found here.
Our yearly planning calendar has been approved and we anticipate virtual meetings up until our December Holiday Presidents Meeting at Lombardo's. We will wait until our October meeting to determine if it is safe to meet then. If not, we will hold the meeting virtually.
In the meantime, I encourage all educators to apply for a $300 NCTA grant this fall. The application and website with exemplars is now available by visiting this link. Also, you're invited to sign up for a graduate level course this fall - I hear we have some amazing new courses along with our already attractive array of exciting educational opportunities!
I truly wish you all the best this coming school year. We are all facing challenges that we never anticipated, but as this summer has shown we can continue to work together, support one another and meet the needs of our students. Now more than ever our students need us to be strong and supportive - as we have been to each other - and together we will get through this!
By now you've finished with online teaching, entered grades or report card comments, and most likely you've returned to your classroom for a final walkthrough and to pack up anything left behind back in March. What a challenging spring this has been for us, our students and our families. Especially noteworthy is the fact that educators quickly rose to the occasion, adapted to virtual teaching, and always held students' best interests in mind. It reaffirms the fact that we are resilient and consistent in our goal to support young people both academically and emotionally. Although not a perfect situation, it was truly a job well done!
I'm well aware that many of our locals are facing devastating budget cuts that are adding to an already uncertain future. We stand in solidarity with you and offer any help we can to ensure a full staff of teachers and support personnel will be present to adequately welcome all of our students in the fall. I'm hopeful that the HEROES Act will be able to alleviate some of these cuts and lessen the burden on our local school budgets. If you haven't done so already, please reach out to your legislators via this link to ask them to support these vital funds:
Just yesterday, the DESE released some preliminary guidelines for districts to consider as we plan for the upcoming school year. Although daunting, it does allow us the summer to brainstorm ideas, create new schedules, and solve different scenarios that will undoubtedly occur. Many districts have created task forces to work out solutions to a possible return to classrooms. The guidelines can be found here:
In case you missed it, in light of the unfortunate incidents in our nation and especially after the death of George Floyd, the NCTA released a statement of dedication to anti-racist teaching that was shared with over 8,000 of our members. The link to that statement can be found here:
In other news, I'm proud to say that almost 300 of our members chose to take an online course with NCTA for the summer session. The courses we offer, many of which are taught by local educators, are an invaluable way to stay informed and maintain licensure at a discounted rate. Be on the lookout later this summer as we release our fall course menu if you're interested in pursuing a convenient way to learn something new and earn graduate credits.
Soon, we will be planning NCTA's Calendar of Events and Activities. The plan is to have most of our fall meetings virtually, with the hope that we will still be able to host the Annual Presidents' Holiday Dinner in December at Lombardo's. Also on the summer agenda is a plan to create New Teacher Packets, likely virtual ones, that we can share with locals as they welcome new teachers to their districts.
As we enter into "summer mode", I encourage you to take a break from the news cycles, read a book, take a stroll, relax with family and friends, and simply breathe. You've earned this time to regroup and recharge for what will be a new approach to teaching and learning, but as educators have all proven recently, our dedication to students will continue to be the focus regardless of the challenges that face us.
I'm looking forward to a second year as President and connecting with many more of you as we continue our important work together.
Christopher M. Brillant, NCTA President
It's certainly been a challenging spring for many of us as we've learned how to navigate a new world of remote, online teaching as well as balance our other professional and personal responsibilities. As usual, educators have risen to the occasion and continued to do what's best for students despite this unwelcome change to our daily lives.
As many of you have heard, our Annual Awards Banquet has been postponed until next June - the first time since its inception in 1983. Any local who submitted names for the Teacher Honor Award and Service Award will have the opportunity to celebrate with their friends and colleagues next year. We're looking forward to being with all of you at that time.
Our Future Educator Book Awards are being processed and we are happy to honor our graduating seniors who are considering a career in teaching. We wish them all the best!
Most recently, many of our locals have heard the difficult news that reduced state aid will bring to our schools. To that end, NCTA encourages you to promote the $3 trillion HEROES Act with your state legislators which would allocate more funding for public schools. More information can be found here:
As I write this, I'm preparing for a virtual meeting alongside NCTA Directors, Local Presidents and the MTA President Ms. Merrie Najimy to discuss the implications of school closures, student needs, budgetary woes and next steps for the eventual return to our classrooms. I'll be sure to share any insight with you on our website, Facebook page and future blog posts.
Also, I hope many of you consider taking a summer online graduate course with NCTA. These 3-credit courses taught by many local educators and that are supportive of public higher education (Framingham State) are a great way to stay up to date while fulfilling recertification requirements. The deadline to register for a course is June 15th. More information can be found here:
This school year has certainly tested us, but it has also cast a light on our resilience and perseverance to serve our students' needs both academically and emotionally. In many cases, our students need us now more than ever and we are there for them, as always.
Christopher M. Brillant, NCTA President
I hope this message finds you well. These are uncertain times for all of us, however, we can find comfort in the fact that we are united in our common goal of keeping everyone safe and healthy.
By now your school district is working on plans to keep learning alive as we deal with statewide school closures due to the coronavirus's arrival in our area. Many of our locals are negotiating fair terms of any type of agreement that allows for learning at home due to several factors including access to the internet as well as access to the curriculum for those who require one-on-one assistance.
Your local Presidents as well as MTA have been hard at work to ensure a plan that's best for all including signing a petition to cancel MCAS testing this spring among other initiatives. I encourage you to visit the MTA website for ongoing updates and important information. I've added a link on our website which can be found here: https://www.myncta.org/pages/mta-news-updates
Additionally, for those who like to plan ahead and would like to take an engaging online course, our Summer Graduate Course Offerings are currently online and can be found here: https://www.myncta.org/collections/summer-2020-semester
As of now, our 37th Annual Awards Banquet is still scheduled for June 2nd at Lombardo's in Randolph. Your local NCTA Director is currently in the process of facilitating who your honor and service award recipients will be for this year. Please reach out to them if you have any questions about that process. Your Director's name can be found here: https://www.myncta.org/pages/ncta-board-of-directors
Our students continue to be our top priority and we are grateful to all of those who support and encourage us as educators during these challenging times.
Christopher M. Brillant, NCTA President
Happy New Year!
It's hard to believe that we've entered a new decade and that 20 years have gone by since the turn of the century. For NCTA, this is the second time the organization has seen a century begin and we hope to see another in 2100!
With the future in mind, it's been a tremendously busy year for NCTA and I'm happy to share some of what we've been doing so far. As I mentioned in August, we began our Strategic Planning process which has been both engaging and informative for us as we begin to carve out specific action plans that will guide us moving forward. More to come on that process later on this spring - so stay tuned.
Additionally, I have been looking at ways to improve communication by the use of different platforms such as our new Facebook page and Google Forms to facilitate both communication and outreach to our members. I encourage you to like and share our Facebook page entitled "Norfolk County Teachers Association". There you will find links to course registration, pictures of our events such as the December Presidents' Dinner as well as other news and updates.
We are anxiously preparing for the Spring, 2020 course semester and registration closes on January 15th. NCTA consistently offers engaging and affordable graduate level courses that are ever-changing to meet the needs of all educators. I invite you to contact us if you are thinking of teaching a course through NCTA. It's a tremendous opportunity and a way for you to share your enthusiasm and knowledge with colleagues across the county.
That's all for now. I hope winter continues to be kind to us. In fact, as I write this post, it's 70 degrees outside and it feels as though Spring is knocking on our door. All the best with your students as we approach the mid-year point. I'll be back here in June with my final blog post with the year in review.
Christopher M. Brillant
Greetings Fellow Educators:
It is with great pleasure that I begin to serve in my new role as NCTA President! I am fortunate to have the opportunity to lead the oldest teachers' association in the country that is full of over 7,500 dedicated, engaged and passionate educators.
I have been a member of NCTA since 1998, and I began my involvement with the board back in 2005. Since then, I have served in many capacities: as a local director, grants coordinator, first vice president, and annual awards banquet chair. In these roles I became more aware of the great work that we do not only as educators, but as leaders in our schools. Given today's political climate and economic challenges, our work as teachers is not easy, but I firmly believe in public education and the positive impact we have on our students and colleagues alike.
At NCTA, we believe the best way to serve our locals is to continue our legacy of offering a wide array of graduate level courses at discounted prices, hosting our annual awards banquet where we celebrate the achievements of educators, students and friends of our locals, as well as continuing our grants program that allows teachers to create awesome learning experiences for their students.
I'm happy to announce that this year NCTA will begin a strategic planning process that will guide our association moving forward for the next 3-5 years. A collaborative and inclusive process will ensure that all locals are heard. I'm eager to see what comes of these meetings and I will be sure to keep you informed here on our website.
I wish you all a positive and successful year with your students!
Christopher M. Brillant