Being a teacher fits who I am as a human being and my passion of working with people, especially children. When kids understand what it is I’m trying to teach them, and I see them interact with other kids in a kind, compassionate, and caring way—that’s the best.
As teachers, we have a duty to foster a sense of community and collectivism in children because we all do better when we all do better. Right now, we're treading into dangerous rhetoric about individualism that discounts the importance of teaching social- emotional skills. This narrative also ignores what we, as unique individuals, bring to the table as part of a larger community and excludes the totality of what we do in schools.
I believe in the strength of collectivism, and that’s the value of my unions, the Racine Educators United (REU) and Wisconsin Education Association Council. We’re a collective voice for people who feel voiceless, whether we're talking about teachers, students, parents, or people who believe in public education.
My involvement with the union started when I became a building representative. I was quite content being, at the time, a 5th grade teacher in the classroom and a rep in my building. But I stepped up my union activism when Act 10, a law that limits collective bargaining, was brought forward. I was at the state Capitol regularly, and as someone who is politically conscious, I knew we were going to have to fight for public education if we wanted it to survive here.
And I think Act 10 happened for a very specific reason: It targeted teachers’ unions because we are the last line of defense in ensuring public education exists. I think that speaks to how powerful we are as an organization.
I’ve been really involved in my union ever since, currently serving as president of REU. It’s very different than being in the classroom. I enjoy it. This level of leadership allows me to help teachers and their students across the district.