Students in East Hampton don’t start school until September 3, but teachers are back this week learning and preparing for the year ahead.
At the district’s convocation teachers caught up with their colleagues and recognized their own—including the 2019-20 East Hampton Teacher of the Year Ehren Brown and Rookie of the Year Katherine Robinson.
Introducing Brown, who is the choral director at East Hampton High School, 2018-19 East Hampton Teacher of the Year Lisa Forcellina said his classroom environment is “founded on teamwork and mutual support, not competition.”
Brown urged teachers to embrace their uniqueness and tap into their strengths as educators.
“Anyone who tells you there’s only one way to succeed in the classroom probably hasn’t spent much time in the classroom, or is trying to sell you something,” he said. “Kids can spot phoniness a mile away. The only real way to reach your potential as a teacher is to be yourself. That’s it? No—but it’s the best way to begin.”
Robinson, a physical education teacher and an East Hampton grad herself, remembered and thanked the many East Hampton teachers who influenced her and put her on the path to becoming an educator.
“East Hampton is such an amazing place to be, and I’m so happy I’m able to teach here,” Robinson said.
Following convocation, East Hampton Education Association (EHEA) members held a brief meeting to prepare for the year ahead. This year marks a transition for the EHEA as Neil Shilansky, the EHEA treasurer for many years, is taking over the reins from former president Steve Archibald.
Shawn Quinn, who is also new to his role as vice president, said, “I’m excited to take on the role of vice president after having been involved as a building rep in the past, and also to taking on the role of Negotiations chair. I appreciate everything the EHEA has done for me since I’ve taught in East Hampton.”
Membership Chair Kristen Keska talked to members about all that EHEA membership offers teachers. “I feel one of the most important benefits of CEA membership, after support with negotiating our contract, is CEA legal representation. We have three CEA lawyers who will help you at no cost to you.”
“As an EHEA member, you have so many levels of benefits,” Shilansky said. “You have building reps, and then you have other members of our executive board, and if things can’t be resolved at that level, it goes to CEA. Our CEA UniServ Rep and lawyers are also there for us.”
Former EHEA president Steve Archibald urged members to be advocates for their schools and stay involved politically. East Hampton has had trouble approving a budget in recent years. Last May, voters rejected the first proposed education budget by a mere 19 votes. The budget that passed in June was cut significantly.
“We lost teaches and we lost programming because of the budget,” Archibald said. “Please vote and please encourage others to vote.”
Saying that students have fewer foreign language options this year due to the budget cuts, Archibald added, “19 votes matter.”