NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – New Haven students go back to school next week, but New Haven’s teachers got together Wednesday morning for an event called “convocation”. It is a return to an old tradition at a time when everyone is trying to get back to normal.

“Now we cannot use Covid as an excuse,” said Dr. Iline Tracey, the Superintendent of New Haven Schools. “We are now ready to start a normal school year, as normal as we can get it.”

The Convocation is kind of a pep rally for the teachers and staff, with the superintendent reminding everyone of the importance of their profession.

“We’re standing as examples in front of them,” Dr. Tracey told the crowd. “We’re saying to them, ‘You see me? You can get there, too.'”

If they care enough. Caring is what Ma’Shai Roman, the student representative on the Board of Education, says the students also need from teachers.

“We need our teachers and support staff who constantly check on how we are doing mentally and physically,” Roman said. “We need people who care.”

Those people can then lead students to great success, according to one of the most powerful women in Washington, who was a substitute teacher years ago.

“We all know that education can serve as a great equalizer,” explained U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D – 3rd District). “It opens doors and opportunities for jobs and higher wages and for a better life.”

Teachers have faced a lot of challenges in the past two and a half years. Remote school, masked students. New Haven was hit particularly hard and just lifted its mask mandate this week. There is also a shortage of teachers. New Haven’s superintendent says they are working on that.

“Two days ago, we onboarded about 130 new teachers to the profession,” Dr. Tracey said. “While there’s a shortage, we’re not going to let that stop the momentum of being fired up and ready to go.”

Teachers have a few more days to get their classrooms ready. School in New Haven begins on Monday.