The first CEA Celebrates Gala brought teachers an evening of fun and connection with friends and colleagues all while raising more than $15,000 for the Connecticut Education Foundation.
“It was great to have a really fun night with teachers and celebrate 175 years of CEA advocacy,” says CEF President and CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey. “We can do more for teachers and students through the foundation now because of the money we raised. Thank you so much to everyone who sponsored the event, donated, and attended.”
The CEA Celebrates gala was held on Friday to benefit the Connecticut Education Foundation. CEF’s purpose is to help in times of need. CEF provides school and living essentials for children in need, scholarships for high school and college students pursuing teaching careers, gifts that brighten the holidays for families experiencing hardships, books for students in our poorest districts, and emergency assistance for educators facing catastrophic illness or other emergencies.
In addition to dinner, dancing, and a silent auction, the Gala also featured an awards ceremony honoring education champions.
“It’s really important for us to honor the people who move our work forward and who’ve gotten us to where we are today,” DeLancey says.
State Representatives Jeff Currey and Kathleen McCarty, Education Committee chair and ranking member respectively, were honored as legislative education champions for their efforts to support students and teachers.
A graduate of the East Hartford Public Schools and former chair of the East Hartford Board of Education, Currey has focused on addressing education inequities and championing LGBTQ+ priorities. As a state representative, he has been an advocate for students and educators, ensuring their voices are heard in the General Assembly and that education issues are a primary focus for his colleagues.
McCarty is a former high school French teacher, chair of the Waterford Board of Education, and founder of the Waterford Education Foundation, who has advocated for education to be the number-one priority in our state and has drawn attention to the opportunity gaps negatively impacting Connecticut students.
Dr. Paul Freeman, superintendent of the Guilford Public Schools since 2011, was honored as an ally for educators. Guilford teachers say he is an exceptional pillar of support for both students and teachers alike. He prioritizes collaboration with his teacher colleagues, equity for Guilford students, and is unafraid to stand up for what he believes is right. He has defended teachers from attacks by a small but vocal group of community members and has advocated for fair compensation, professional development, and acknowledgement of educators.
Former Danbury, CEA, and NEA President and current CEA-Retired member Bob Chase was honored for his lifelong commitment to unionism, representing teachers at the local, state, national, and international levels. As NEA president he moved the nation’s largest teachers’ union forward with a focus on teacher professionalism. He has also formed bonds over the years with Education International, a global union federation of teacher trade unions consisting of 383 member organizations in 178 countries and territories.
A fourth-year English teacher at Manchester High School, Katie Grant was honored for showcasing what it means to be a union leader as an early-career educator. Grant joined CEA’s Aspiring Educators program during her first year as an education student at UConn and went on to become state chair of the program from 2018-2020. Beginning her teaching career, Grant leapt head first into a union leadership role, becoming chair of the Manchester Education Association’s Political Action Committee. She also serves as a program specialist for the CEA Aspiring Educators program, supporting today’s future educators, and was elected to the CEA Board of Directors.
“It was a true honor to be able to celebrate some of our members,” DeLancey said. “Bob Chase had a big role in shaping what unions should look like at the state and national levels, and it was motivational to honor an early-career educator who really lives unionism at her core.”
“We raised money for our foundation, honored absolutely amazing people, and shared the stage with two former NEA presidents—Bob Chase and Lily Eskelsen García,” says CEA President Kate Dias. “It was an epic night. I’m so thankful for our amazing sponsors, staff, and leaders who made the night a huge success.”
Top gala sponsors were Bayard Printing Group and Barker Specialty. Gold Apple Sponsors included CEA Aspiring Educators, CEA-Retired, Bloomfield Education Association, Bridgeport Education Association, Darien Education Association, Guilford Education Association, Manchester Education Association, and Pomperaug Education Association.
Read more about the CEA Celebrates Gala in the next issue of the CEA Advisor.