Another school year is under way. We’re off to a great start.
For students and parents, routines have been set or renewed. New locker combinations have been figured out. The tears at the bus stop have died down. And new schedules are beginning to feel routine.
When I was still in the classroom, I loved the start of the school year — it was a fresh chance to create memories with a new class of students.
One of my favorite school memories was the annual field trip to the Arthur Avenue Bakery. We learned about the baking process, and got plenty of samples. It was a fun trip that the students loved. And I’ve gotta admit — we teachers loved it too!
Teachers work hard to create special memories for their students. But they can’t do it alone. That’s why having a solid community of colleagues matters; and why strong unions are so important — especially for the newest teachers.
For educators in their first year — or first few years — of teaching, the job can feel overwhelming and isolating. While inspiring, the work is challenging. And the professional development, and certification requirements, new teachers must fulfill to stay in the classroom, can be complicated and daunting.
If you’re a fledgling educator, I’ve got a message for you — It won’t always feel so overwhelming.
And you’re not alone. Your union is here for you.
This year, we launched a new initiative, called Next Generation NYSUT. It’s designed to help our newest members establish themselves in their careers, and to ensure that they have the necessary resources, and support, from their union to be successful.
Through NYSUT’s Education and Learning Trust, we offer a variety of affordable, flexible professional learning opportunities for members — including required certification training.
We also help teachers address the student loan debt crisis that drives too many talented educators out of the classroom and into more lucrative career paths. Free or low-cost counseling, that helps educators determine how to best pay off their student loans, can mean a world of difference to a young teacher. It allows them to both pursue a fulfilling career, and to build their own futures.
And we’re fighting in the halls of power to make sure their workplaces are safe and healthy, and that their voices are heard when policymakers make decisions about their professions.
And we will continue to fight to fully fund public education, so that all teachers have the resources they need to serve and support their students.
Now more than ever, teachers need strong unions that fight for good jobs… strong public schools… affordable health care and benefits… and a voice in the halls of power.
So — as September draws to a close — best of luck to all the educators and students out there.
As you embark on another year of making memories, know that your union has your back.
Andy Pallotta, a former elementary teacher, is president of the more than 600,000-member New York State United Teachers.
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