Park Ridge Education Association



 

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE .................................

 

Welcome back to the 2018-2019 school year!

Passion for people, driven to teach; a calling - to help children develop, nurturing growth in others (children and adults) and strong sense of moral purpose. I am sure no one in this room would argue that these are just some of the qualities that guide each and every one of us in our work as teachers. You can add your own. And while many of us might have diverse beliefs regarding how best to teach our students, it is becoming so ever-important to our local teaching community here in District 64 to collectively support one another in our work. Especially, in today’s political environment.

This past June, a landmark supreme court decision, Janus, vs. AFSCME, drastically changed the rules for how membership can be maintained within a public union. It is the corporate education reform movement’s latest attempt to divide educators’ voices and confuse the general public about the role of teachers’ unions in public education. Most unions, and this is true here in District 64, get most of their attention every 3-4 years as we engage in the process of collective bargaining with the District.

But over-looking one of the most predominant role of teacher’s unions, would be a travesty. That role is what I like to call collective advocacy. It is my belief that the work done during this time is as important as collectively bargaining. In District 64, yes, this work in done by myself along with our union officers, by your individual school’s building reps, but even more relevant and most important, by all of the individual teachers here in our community, in our schools and our classrooms. Everyday.

You see, as teachers here in District 64, we work to communicate with one another, we discuss our most basic needs in the classroom, we look to one another to grow in ways that make us better for our students, we give each other moral support at times when we face problems, we communicate our needs to our principals, serve on committees, put in extra time after school hours together, you can fill in the rest. And all this for one, major reason, the educational success of our students. My colleagues, with out this important collective advocacy and without this unified support for one another, I ask, what are we? OUR COLLECTIVE SUPPORT OF EACH OTHER IS CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF OUR STUDENTS.

But this collective support, this collective advocacy and this collective unity is not exclusive to just the educators in the PREA. It extends beyond, to the teacher and program assistants and the members of the PRTAA (and their President, Karin Lennon). As most every teacher has become aware in our school district in just that last couple of years, these important members of our staff have become a critical part of the success of our students. This collective “WE”, extends to the members of the custodial staff, the SSC, who I am told, worked harder this summer than ever at assisting with the many physical changes in our district and preparing our schools for the coming school year. (and their president, Jason Borst.) It extends to our secretarial staff who’s efforts are ever-so important in the school setting. (Don’t worry secretarial staff, we teachers know who really runs the schools in our district). Colleagues, this collective support of each other that I speak of, also extends to the members of our school leadership and our administration. There isn’t a single one of us here who doesn’t know the importance of the role of leadership in our school. School leadership, we need you.

Most all of us here are aware of the challenges we currently face within the confines of District 64. When a recent news report summarizing an auditor’s finding of special education services in our District appeared in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate questioning levels of trust between teachers and administration, it felt like a punch in the gut to me personally. I know it did to you

too. While many of us know that levels of organizational trust need improvement, I would personally argue what I know to be true about trust in our District. You see, the challenges we face are the result of smart, highly-skilled, multi-talented professionals who know their area of expertise, they understand their role with respect to their teaching, their assignment, or position in the district. In an organization as large as ours we all have expectations, needs to be met and goals to achieve - for our students especially. As highly effective professionals, all look to make what we know to be a great school district with great people, even better. In a small way, what we currently face can be seen as a good problem to have.

In the coming year, we look to support each other in new opportunities to grow, to improve, to fix what we know we can. And we will. We know that there is work to be done together in special education. We welcome our new Director of Student Services, Dr. Leanne Frost with open arms. We know that there are many avenues and plans recently established to improve collaboration within special education, specifically. Last spring, the PREA convened its own special education committee and we invite you to meet and share with them as well.

Also, in the coming months, the executive team of the PREA and members of our District-level administration will be working collectively to specifically focus on improving collaboration with the goal of improved organizational trust. We look forward to engaging in facilitated discussions that we know will be helpful and will help us continue on the path to achieving the professional culture needed to sustain and build upon a high quality school district.

Finally, I’d like to end with a story about my summer and my family vacation to Cedar Point Amusement Park. It’s a roller coaster story. One of the largest roller coasters in Cedar Point, the Millennium Force became sort of a fascination for myself and my 12 year old daughter. Not of anything we would actually ride, of course. We were too scared. After all, it was deemed the tallest rollercoaster in the the world for 12 years and went up to speeds of up to 93 mile per hour. Oh no, we had no plans to ride that thing, especially myself, just having reached my 50th birthday. But as our day at the park wore on, we noticed that the one hour long line to the coaster was less than 10 minutes, and we figured we’d, ‘just get in line and see’.

As it became clear to us that we were just too scared to try and began talking about bailing out of line, a young man in front of us, who we did not know, turned to us and said, “Hey, I can’t help but hear you both talking yourself out of this. Stay in line, you are going to love it!” He offered some proof for us, “Just watch the people getting off after the ride, do you see how every single one of them is happy, excited and screaming out of joy? How hundreds of people be wrong?”

Upon this unknown young man’s advice, we stayed in line and rode the roller coaster. My daughter and I both loved the ride. In fact, we rode twice. We said we would have rode it 27 times if we could!

In my 27 years of teaching, I know that I every year is a roller coaster ride. As teachers, we know there is great power in collectively supporting our profession and supporting each other. We know that our support for one another is critical to the success of our students. We know that this support for one another needs to extend beyond We will ride the ups and downs, we might be a little scared, we will face problems and challenges. We will work to bring the joy of learning to the hearts and minds of our students. It is my wish for each and everyone of you, to engage your students with the level of enthusiasm for teaching that we are renowned for here in District 64. When the ride ends on June 10th, I know we will look at the our students faces. We

will see the happiness, excitement and joy as the result of the experience of amazing school year. And we will ask the question, “How can 4,500 students plus be wrong?”

Have a great school year! Thank you.

 


Click here to see some pictures of the PREA in action!