Union Highlights

AFT Supports for Trauma and Healing

American Educator, Summer 2022

May was a devastating month for the United States. With two mass shootings and reaching 1 million deaths from COVID-19, students, families, and educators are reeling. For AFT members, we offer a free trauma counseling benefit; please visit aft.org/benefits/trauma to learn more. And to help our members support their students, we offer “10 Trauma-Informed Strategies to Help Students Heal,” a remote learning course on primary prevention skills to promote student well-being and resilience.

While students’ mental health has long been a grave concern, it is now a national public health crisis. Social stress, isolation, and loss of loved ones to the pandemic, the opioid crisis, and senseless violence have translated into steeply rising rates of child and adolescent anxiety and depression, self-harm, and suicide. Declining mental well-being also manifests in the classroom, leading to withdrawal, aggression, and impulsivity.

In the AFT’s course, educators can learn to address these trauma responses in ways that support students’ mental health and increase their readiness to learn. The course contains 10 modules, each focused on a research-based practice for responding to student trauma, including helping students manage triggers and supporting grieving students. Participants can receive 20 credit hours for completing the course modules; locals may also request skills training workshops on individual strategies to meet specific needs. For more information, contact Chelsea Prax.

Children’s Book Highlights Working Immigrants’ Contributions to the Labor Movement

A historical black and white photo of strikers' children from the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike superimposed with the cover of The 1913 Paterson Silk Strike: The Children’s Story, a painting of a building with a large crowd of people gathered in front

The American Labor Museum/Botto House National Landmark has stood as a beacon of light on labor and immigrant studies since 1982. To commemorate its 40th anniversary, copies of the book The 1913 Paterson Silk Strike: The Children’s Story are being distributed by AFT New Jersey and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) to public school fourth-grade classrooms, school libraries, and public libraries throughout New Jersey.

The book, funded through a grant by the New Jersey Historical Commission, was coauthored by two of the museum’s leaders: Dr. Angelica Santomauro, executive director (and NJEA member), and Evelyn Hershey, education director. It tells the story of the biggest strike in Paterson’s history through the eyes of four children: two young brothers who needed to work in the silk mills to financially help their family, and a brother and sister who had the privilege of attending a public school because they did not have financial responsibilities. Although the characters are fictional, the story and illustrations are historically accurate. Teaching materials that accompany the story give readers a greater understanding of the role of labor unions, democracy, and civic engagement.

The 1913 Paterson Silk Strike: The Children’s Story may be purchased for $10 through the American Labor Museum website—and a 40 percent discount is available for educators outside of New Jersey by contacting the library at labormuseum@gmail.com. To learn more about the American Labor Museum and access lesson plans and supplemental materials about the strike, visit here.

American Educator, Summer 2022
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