Dalio Education founds storytelling platform for Connecticut teachers
Dalio Education has founded a new storytelling initiative that centers around teacher voices.
“Teachers of Connecticut” is an online platform — created by the philanthropic group led by billionaire hedge fund founder Ray Dalio’s wife, Barbara Dalio — that allows educators to share their stories in their own words. The collection debuted with about a dozen teacher stories, depicting a range of experiences from all around the state.
“One of the things we kept hearing was that teachers sometimes feel as if their voices aren’t being heard,” Barbara Dalio said in a statement. “With so much noise out there on so many different channels, they sometimes feel as if their voices are getting lost in the mix,”
“So that’s what this is: simply a platform for them to tell their stories, unfiltered, in their own words,” said the Greenwich resident.
Stories will publish semi-weekly and be circulated on social media, including on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The idea came from several virtual meetings Dalio Education held with about 40 Connecticut teachers last spring, according to a press release from the organization.
“Barbara and I heard a lot from teachers on a whole set of topics, but the one common theme that kept coming up again and again was this desire from teachers to be heard,” said Andrew Ferguson, the chief education officer of Dalio Education, “for their stories, in their words, to be more understood in the general public.”
Ferguson added that an aspiration for the platform is to incorporate teacher perspectives into more decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond — “whether at a classroom, state or national level.”
“Part of this is to say we think teachers deserve much larger platforms, because we think they’re champions,” Ferguson said.
One of those champions is Sheena Graham, who was awarded the 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year.
“Storytelling helps people to connect to one another, to understand different perspectives and experiences,” said Graham, a choir teacher at Warren Harding High School in
Bridgeport, and an adviser for the initiative. “Stories can build empathy. They can empower others.”
Graham’s story is online, where she shares the unique pressures of teaching during the pandemic, connecting with students split in classrooms and online, and being the only one in her family who did not lose her job.
“The stories that are already published on the Teachers of Connecticut platform are so powerful and inspiring, and truly humanizing, which means so much in our profession where teachers are not always appreciated as people with deep passion for the work we do,” she said.
According to the organization’s website, Dalio Education, which was created more than a decade ago, prioritizes supporting students at risk of not graduating high school on time and their public school teachers.
Ferguson of Dalio Education said educators interested in sharing their stories should visit www. teachersofconnecticut.org.
“Teachers of Connecticut” will be supported by an advisory group of 10 teachers and civic leaders from throughout the state.