Press Release

Teacher Who Helps ESL Students Overcome Language Barriers Is Recognized as AFT Everyday Hero

For Release: 

Sunday, July 11, 2010


George Jackson

—Christine Rowland, an English-as-a-second-language teacher at Christopher Columbus High School in New York City, is one of six American Federation of Teachers members to be honored as an “Everyday Hero” Sunday at the AFT’s national convention for her exceptional commitment to her students and school.

The awards, new this year, are presented to members from each of AFT’s five employee constituencies plus a retiree. The award recognizes an individual or group who has had a profound impact on the workplace or has performed extraordinary community service outside of the job.

At Columbus High School, Rowland works with English-language learners and serves as a resource teacher in the school’s Teacher Center, which is operated by the United Federation of Teachers. Columbus has one of the most challenging student populations in New York City. Students come to the school in the Bronx from many countries and speaking many languages. She has helped many of her students overcome that language barrier, with many of them passing the rigorous New York state regents exams and some receiving full scholarships to four-year colleges.

Recently, when Columbus High School was slated for closure, she spearheaded a campaign to keep it open. Supporters of the school ultimately won a court order to keep it open.

Roland is a member of the United Federation of Teachers New York City.

The AFT is holding its biennial convention July 7-11 in Seattle. Coming together under the theme “Building Futures Together,” more than 3,000 delegates will vote on major union policies that address the need to save and strengthen public education, build common cause with communities, and improve the institutions in which our members work.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.