Remarks as prepared

Good morning union sisters and brothers of the Unit Five Education Association!

And, good morning Unit 5 staff and members of the Board of Education.

My name is Lindsey Dickinson, and I am the newly elected President of the Unit Five Education Association.

There aren’t words to describe how proud, humbled and honored I am to serve in this role.

It is my privilege to represent the members of UFEA because educators are some of the most important people in the world, doing some of the most important work in the world.  

What you all do every single day for each of your students simply amazes me.

You show up for your students – even for days and weeks when you aren’t paid to (I’ve driven by your schools this summer – I know!)

You speak up for your students.

You stand up for your students.

You listen, console, guide, instruct, coach, teach, support and love your students.

For some students, you may be their only constant source of encouragement, their only consistent positive role model, their anchor.

A very smart man once told me, you can only be one piece of your students’ puzzle, not the entire puzzle.

But I know that you are like me.

As teachers, we want to do everything we can to help our students have a complete puzzle, to be whatever piece we need to be for them, to help in every way to ensure they feel as supported, safe and secure as possible.

This work we do is important.

This work we do matters.

But this work is not always easy.

It can be a challenge; an adventure. It’s an adventure we are all on together — to make a difference in the lives and futures of our students.

That is why we don’t do this alone. We have to support each other.

We need to help anchor each other as well.

We live in a world that is all too often divided and polarized. At times it seems as if every topic is one that splits us down the middle or sends us off to our separate corners. Every issue can be politicized, even weaponized.

Don’t get me wrong – politics are important. We need to be educated and engaged. But in the midst of divisive rhetoric and polarized politics, it’s never been more important for us to stick together – for ourselves and for our students.

Public education is under attack.

Public employees are under attack.

The unions that represent them – like UFEA and UFSPA – are under attack.

When facing those attacks, we must stand firm.

We must stick together.

For years we have been asked to do more with less.

We proctor standardized tests whose scores are given way too much consideration, we collect evidence and enter data about our students and ourselves, we unpack new standards, write new curriculum, purchase new supplies and materials (often out of our own pockets), and work long hours with fewer resources.

Yet even doing more with less doesn’t always cut it. The truth is, for those who attack us, we’ll never be able to do enough.  We cannot make everyone happy and satisfied, even if we try.

But we will do it anyway. For our students.

When the attacks come, when the resources shrink, when the expectations pile up and the naysayers pile on, we come together for our students. We know that each and every student deserves the absolute best education in the absolute best environment. And we are committed to providing the absolute best, committed to helping them each achieve their absolute best, and committed to giving our absolute best.

When our students sense the uncertainty around them, we will support them. We will be their anchor.

When we feel as if the tide is rising, the workload is becoming unmanageable, the safety of the shore is harder to see, the attacks are coming from every direction, we will support each other.

And UFEA will be our anchor.

Our union will be what binds us together as we navigate this adventure, together.

Our union allows us to speak with a common, amplified voice. Our union helps us fight injustice and inequality. Our union helps us support each other as we support our students, helps us stand together as we stand up for our students, helps keep us safe and secure while we work for the safety and security of our students.

How does our union do that?

By fighting for better working conditions for us, and learning conditions for our students, when we collectively bargain our contract and enforce those agreements we have made.

By advocating for members who need representation or support, because we know that an injury to one is an injury to all.

By providing members with professional development – in person and online – on just about any topic you can imagine, including restorative practices and adverse childhood experiences.

By providing members with grant opportunities to support and extend the work they do in the classroom and community.

By providing members with debt and loan forgiveness and public service opportunities.

By supporting the newest generation of educators through a quality induction and mentoring program for new hires.

And by supporting the next generation of educators through scholarships.

Our union does that. We do that.

Because our union is us.  We are UFEA.

When facing potential danger or risk, when navigating through uncertainty, an anchor provides safety and security. Our students need us. And we need each other.

When the world seeks to divide and tear down, we will seek to unite and restore.

When the world operates in hate and fear, we will love.

We will love our students.

We will love each other.

We will love our schools. And love our union.

We will support each other as we support our students and our profession. We will stand up together, speak up together and stick together. Because we know that we are stronger together. We must be the anchors.

Good luck on a first day with a new group of kids.  I wish you all the best of luck. I will be cheering and anchoring you along the way.

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