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PDK International

Past Events
Congratulations 2016 Joy D. Rice Award Winner
Congratulations to Taylor Wheeler, our Joy D. Rice Book Award Winner! Taylor was the valedictorian of the 2016 graduating class at Oliver Wolcott Technical High School! Taylor has an impressive resume which includes community service, clubs and sports and numerous awards and honors. She plans to attend UCONN next year, studying secondary education. Congrats and good luck Taylor!

Members Meet to Discuss New Year
Our enthusiastic chapter officers met to discuss the new year. Among the events to look forward to, the chapter is planning to celebrate the retirement of PDK friend, Dolly Spadaccini after 48 years of service in Regional School District #1!

An Evening of Apps & Apps
It was a wonderful spring evening to share information and to reconnect with friends at Miranda Vineyard! The group was able to share and swap apps, while enjoying yummy appetizers and award winning Miranda Vineyard wine!

Teacher Retirement: What YOU need to know!
This past Veterans Day, about a dozen interested members and guests gathered at Miranda Vineyard in Goshen, CT to hear CEAs retirement expert, Robyn Kaplan Cho! She was able to provide the group with updates regarding the current status of our states teacher retirement fund. She was also able to share information regarding current issues and policies. It was a terrific opportunity to hear more about teacher retirement and to ask pertinent questions in a smaller setting! As always, it was a fantastic evening at the vineyard!

Our Annual Year End Celebration!
We gathered at the beautiful Fairview Farms in Harwinton for our annual end of year celebration. We were thrilled to award the Joy D. Rice Book Award to a very deserving high school senior. In addition, we installed chapter officers for the upcoming year!

Being Good To You: An Evening for Teachers
Founder of Visionary Lights, Reiki practitioner and teacher Anna Roupp showed us how to bring relaxation to the classroom and to our lives. She took us through an amazing guided meditation, truly illustrating how relaxation techniques enhance the school experience.

April 3, 2014 Kicking Off Our 20th Anniversary Year with Dr. Dom Vita!
It was a lovely Spring evening as members gathered at Miranda Vineyard in Goshen CT. We enjoyed catching up after the long winter and sampling some fine CT wine. Charter member Dr. Dom Vita joined us fresh from a flight from FL to share this special evening. He recalled the founding of the chapter, its purpose and some fond memories. Dr. Vita noted that the Litchfield Hills CT chapter of PDK remains a busy and active one. Each guest received a complimentary wine glass to celebrate the anniversary! It was a wonderful way to reflect back as we move forward!

iPad Apps for Teaching
The Wandering Moose was a terrific venue for our iPad App Exchange night! Unfortunately, our guest of honor, Nicole Feeney from NEAT Marketplace was unable to attend. However, her information was shared and well received! Member Keri Snowden also stepped in to share how websites and iPad apps have enhanced her daily classroom experience! Enthusiastic members and guests left with lots of ideas and suggestions to try right away in their own classrooms!

Teacher Retirement: What You Need to Know!
We kicked off the new school year with a fantastic event at Miranda Vineyard! Robyn Kaplan Cho from CEA presented all of the latest news about teacher retirement. She also fielded questions and shared resources. This is such a hot topic that is continually changing! It was a wonderful opportunity to find out more of what is happening with pensions and funding.

2013 End of Year Celebration!
On June 13, 2013, the Litchfield Hills Chapter of PDK gathered at the beautiful Fairview Farms in Harwinton to celebrate a wonderful year of events and happenings! It was a special evening as the group recognized longtime member Ron Dower with the prestigious Service Key Award, bestowed our Joy D. Rice Book Award on to a well deserving high school senior, installed 2013-14 officers and welcomed a new initiate, Eileen Sullivan! It was an outstanding (and very busy!) evening! The newly installed officers will meet in the summer to plan fun and informative events for next year!

Fishing for Fun, Insight and News!
On Tuesday, May 21, the Litchfield Hills Chapter of PDK met to try something new! At the beautiful Miranda Vineyard, the group fielded questions and topics as part of a "fishbowl" session. Participants filled out slips of paper and put them into the fishbowl. Each note was then read to the group and fantastic discussion ensued! It was a terrific evening of insights and information, as the group stayed to sample wine in spite of tornado warnings!

Apps & Apps!
What a wonderful evening of fun and information! An enthusiastic group gathered in a great Litchfield office space to trade info about the latest in educational technology. While enjoying wonderful appetizers, the group traded websites and apps that help both teacher and student! Member and officer Keri Snowden did a wonderful job presenting apps that she uses in her classroom daily. She included many practical tips and information. Handouts for easy referencing were available and well received by the participants! (April 2013)

What is the NCLB Waiver and how does it affect me?
We have had OUTSTANDING speakers this year from the State Dept of Ed! Renee Savoie was terrific! In spite of the rain, the Cornwall Inn was cozy and warm, providing a wonderful backdrop to the presentation regarding CTs NCLB waiver!! It was great information. We were also able to ask Renee other questions regarding changes in the world of education! Pictured L-R: Bonnie OBrien, programs, Renee Savoie and Dotty Bates, president.(Oct 2012)

Presenting the new Language Arts Common Core Standards
It was a lovely evening at Miranda Vineyards. Abbie Lareau from the CT State Dept of Ed delivered a wonderful presentation of the new Common Core Language Arts Standards. Guests also enjoyed a sampling of Miranda Vineyards delicious local wines. What an enjoyable and informative evening! (Sept 2012)

Using Assistive Technology in the Classroom
It was a fantastic night in West Cornwall! Nicole Feeney, from NEAT Marketplace in Hartford, joined us! She presented a variety of educationally relevant ways to incorporate iPads and applications into the classroom! She gave us handouts which included many great ideas and apps! It was a very hands on meeting where we were able to ask many situationally based questions! Our group left with lot of information that can be immediately transferred to the classroom and student learning! It was a fantastic opportunity and we hope to have Nicole back for a follow-up soon! Picture shows L-R: Nicole Feeney with Co-Chairs of Programs Deb Czupkowski and Bonnie OBrien!

Exploring the Common Core Standards: Language Arts
The Litchfield Chapter of PDK gathered at The Pizza Palace in Torrington, CT for some fellowship and to hear a fabulous speaker present information regarding the Language Arts Common Core Standards. Amy Radikas is currently a Language Arts Consultant at the Connecticut State Department of Education. She works in the Bureau of Teaching and Learning where she coordinates professional development for all Priority School Districts, supports the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Literacy, assists with Early Literacy initiatives and manages the Governors Summer Reading Challenge. Ms. Radikas shared a powerpoint which focused on the timeline for standard implementation, the changes in future student testing and defined some of the language arts curriculum differences. Her presentation was very informative and motivating! In a photo snapped during our event, (L-R) Chapter President Dotty Bates and speaker Amy Radikas.

Welcome Back to PDK!
On a cloudy October afternoon, the Litchfield PDK group gathered at the beautiful Sunset Meadows Vineyard in Goshen CT. Both familiar guests and newcomers alike were able to sample delicious local wines, while networking with members. It was a wonderful chance to spend time with colleagues and friends. It was also a terrific opportunity to raise money for our Joy D Rice scholarship, which will be awarded to a high school senior pursuing a career in education. The presentation will occur at the end of this school year.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Retirement
At the Village Restaurant in Litchfield, CEAs Robyn Kaplan Cho presented the latest information regarding teachers retirement in CT. The enthusiastic group listened intently while Ms. Kaplan Cho gave information and answered questions about current state funding, social security and future trends. It was a very informative and thought provoking evening! More information regarding Robyn Kaplan Cho upcoming workshops can be found at Pictured, L to R, current president Dotty Bates, CEAs Robyn Kaplan Cho and co chair of programs, Bonnie OBrien.

Year End Celebration
Not rain, not sleet, not horrible thunderstorm will stop the members of Litchfield Hills PDK from gathering to celebrate a wonderful year!! On Thursday, June 9, the group met at the Torrington Country Club to initiate new members, install officers and award the Joy D. Rice Book award. In a surprise presentation, outgoing president, Ed OConnell received PDKs Service Key Award. Dr. Dominick Vita, past president and Service Key winner himself, recognized Mr. OConnell for his dedication, leadership and service to the organization. He has served as president for the last 10 years and now hands over the office to Dotty Bates. We look forward to the same enthusiasm and efforts in the coming school year! Pictured L to R: Outgoing president and Service Key award winner Ed OConnell and past president Dr. Dominick Vita.

Joy D. Rice Book Award Winner!
Maryssa Brogis is our 2011 scholarship winner! The Litchfield Hills chapter of PDK was proud to award Maryssa, who is a very deserving high school senior! 3rd in her class of 246 at Torrington High, Maryssa is a member of the National Honor Society, Latin Club and the Forbes Flyers (teaching children to jumprope). A class president, she will be attending Union College in the fall. Pictured L-R: Treasurer Ron Dower, President Ed OConnell, 2011 winner Maryssa Brogis, husband of Joy D. Rice Ralph Nigra and proud mother and PDK member Joanne Brogis.

A Fresh Look at Math Standards
On a truly glorious evening in May, the Litchfield Hills Kappans met at the Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen to investigate CTs new Common Core Standards for Math. In the beautiful tasting room, the group enjoyed snacks and delicious local wine. As the evening progressed, the group was able to also enjoy an extremely informative presentation by Charlene Tate-Nichols, K-8 Mathematics Consultant for the CTSDE. She explained the shift in the paradigm regarding the teaching of math in our state and how these Common Core Standards reflect that. She shared how developmentally appropriate instruction based upon these standards would delve deeper into content and provide students with a solid foundation for future grade levels. With graphs and charts, the members could see which topics would be focused on in each grade level. Mrs. Tate-Nichols also remarked that "many familiar things have been taken out, so that we can focus on what is developmentally appropriate". All information can be found on the state website, Look for and click on the Common Core Standards logo! Pictured are Charlene Tate-Nichols with President Ed O Connell

The New Look of Teacher Certification
Spring was in the air on Wednesday, April 13 as members from the Litchfield Hills Chapter of PDK gathered at Kristin Maries Cafe and Grill in Canaan, CT. Bureau Chief of the CT Department of Certification, Nancy Pugliese made to trip west to share important changes in the state regulations concerning teacher certification. Years in the making, the new regulations were detailed in handouts as Mrs. Pugliese highlighted the most important modifications. She also shared the process that the state takes to create these changes which are set to take effect in 2013. Pictured (standing) Outdoing President Ed OConnell, Incoming President Dotty Bates, (seated) Speaker Nancy Pugliese.

Oh, What A Night!
It was a wonderful evening at the Torrington Country Club on June 9. Both the Litchfield Hills Chapter and the Southern CT State Chapter joined together to initiate new members, install new officers and celebrate the exciting changes coming to PDK! Both chapters announced scholarship winners. These scholarships support prospective educators in our area. Pictured from L-R, Dr. Dominick Vita, who highlighted the new responsibilities of PDK. Dr. Vita is the new Field Representative for the East Coast (CT to Fl, Central America, Carribean). Carol Mikulski will take over as president of the Southern CT State Univ. Chapter while Peter Boppert becomes the Area Director for CT and RI.

2010 Joy D. Rice Book Award Winner
While our scholarship winner could not attend our dinner, we were able to celebrate the achievements of Colleen Traub with her grandparents, Dick and Barbara Traub! Colleen is very accomplished indeed! Placing 1st out of a class of 179 with a 4.0 GPA (weighted for honors classes), she was the perfect choice for this award. In addition to being vice president of the Honor Society and the captain of her swim team, Colleen was on Student Council and Math Team. She was also involved in Junior Achievement, worked with 2nd graders and has volunteered at a summer camp for inner city families. The last experience touched her greatly and inspired her to become a teacher. Best wishes to Colleen as she attends Marywood University in Scranton, PA in the fall!!

SRBI: What every Connecticut educator needs to know”
On April 27, 2010, members from our chapter and guests gathered at the First and Last Tavern in Avon, CT. Mary Anne Butler, from the State Department of Education, did a terrific job presenting an eager audience with up to date information regarding SRBI! It was a wonderful opportunity for members to learn more about this initiative.