Stamford Advocate

Dalio Education founds storytelli­ng platform for Connecticu­t teachers

- By Cayla Bamberger

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. teachersof­connecticu­

“Teachers of Connecticu­t” will be supported by an advisory group of 10 teachers and civic leaders from throughout the state.

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