More than 400 teacher delegates to the CEA Representative Assembly today elected Jeff Leake, a Cheshire teacher, as president of the statewide teachers’ Association. The current CEA vice president, Leake will assume the office of president on July 15.
Leake will succeed current CEA President Sheila Cohen, who has served in that office for the past six years and is ineligible to run again due to term limits.
Leake is an elementary and middle school teacher with a long history of involvement with CEA. Besides his six years as vice president, he has also served as CEA treasurer, as president of the Connecticut Education Foundation, on the CEA Board of Directors, and on multiple CEA committees.
Leake is a champion of public education and the teaching profession. “We must ensure that Connecticut is committed to providing all students with a quality public education and treating our profession with the dignity and respect it deserves. That begins with adequate funding for our public schools and ensuring the long-term viability of the state teachers’ retirement fund.”
Leake is also an ardent supporter of collective bargaining rights. “Collective bargaining lifts up everyone and empowers teachers to fight for the rights of their students and public education. We must not forget that teachers need the right to collectively negotiate for decent, equitable pay; affordable healthcare; quality schools; and vibrant communities.”
As president of the Connecticut Education Foundation, the charitable arm of CEA, Leake has helped improve the lives of students across the state through programs that provide underprivileged children with much-needed clothing and school supplies, as well as help them understand the importance of literacy. Leake was at the helm of the new literacy program CEA launched with the Plainfield Public Schools to motivate children in high-poverty school districts to read.
“The reading bus tour is an exciting way to educate children about the importance of reading and to help them develop good reading skills. It builds excitement and gives children the impetus to read, and for educators, it’s a reminder that CEF is here to help them help their students. The CEF bus tour ensures that students in low-income districts can choose books of their own to take home. There’s no more important gift than literacy,” said Leake.
New CEA Vice President Elected
Teachers also elected Manchester social worker Tom Nicholas to the position of CEA vice president. He will succeed Leake on July 15.
At present, Nicholas is CEA treasurer, a post he was elected to in 2012. He serves on numerous CEA boards and committees, and his positions have included county director, past NEA director, and local Association president.
Nicholas is committed to ensuring Connecticut students receive a high-quality public education. “With all the attacks on public education, it is crucial to continue working with legislators and the State Department of Education to ensure adequate and equitable funding for our public schools. A great education system and respect for teachers are inextricably intertwined. Our dedicated professional educators provide public school students with opportunities for success.”
National Posts Filled
Members also elected directors to represent them on the NEA Board of Directors. Vernon teacher David Jedidian was elected as NEA director, and Tara Flaherty, a teacher at Shepaug Valley School in Washington, was elected NEA director alternate.
The Connecticut Education Association is Connecticut’s largest teachers’ union, representing active and retired educators across the state.