Hope for the future of public education
At the closing session of AFT TEACH on July 10, Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus and AFT Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram were joined by Deputy Education Secretary Cindy Marten for a conversation on what comes next in public education. They discussed the hurdles of the past 16 months, the amazing work being done to recover and prepare for the coming school year, and our vision for equity and access in the session called “The Future of Public Education.”
Lessons learned from the pandemic
“Kids are resilient. … They just wow me.” “Be prepared for the unexpected. … That’s the big takeaway piece: making sure kids feel secure in what they are learning and safe in this environment.” “The need for science, integrating it into our curriculum.” “As an educator, you have to always be mindful of how your kids are feeling.” These are just a handful of the lessons AFT members learned during the pandemic. In this video, educators recall how they found strength in their students—such as Valhalla, N.Y., English teacher Cayne Letizia, who describes his students’ digital diaries of the pandemic, including how one student chronicled and mourned the death of her father from COVID-related complications.
Rapid response grants for the 2020-21 school year
Healing an Oregon community after a devastating wildfire. Retrofitting school ventilation systems in McAllen, Texas. Bringing together paraprofessionals and school-related personnel across Florida to learn leadership and self-care. These are just a few ways AFT affiliates used AFT Innovation Fund COVID-19 rapid response grants for the 2020-21 school year, as these inspiring videos show.
Using mindfulness to find greater peace
When Kristin Colarusso-Martin, the community schools director for the Massena (N.Y.) Central School District, started planning for the reopening of schools last summer, she wanted to find a way to help students and staff deal with the stress and trauma brought on by the pandemic. “We recognized that students were going to be coming into school, and our staff as well, with this collective trauma that we had to try to figure out how to address,” said Colarusso-Martin during an AFT TEACH session July 10. Even though the district brought in counselors, therapists and social workers, something was missing. Colarusso-Martin found the answer in mindfulness.