UFEA President Lindsey Dickinson welcomed UFEA members and the Unit 5 community to the 2021-2022 school year, reflecting on a challenging 2020-21 year and reminding us we are survivors, our students need us now more than ever, and we have the power to endure and do this — together!
Remarks as prepared
Good morning fellow educators and members of the Unit Five Education Association! And, good morning Unit 5 staff, administration, and members of the Board of Education.
My name is Lindsey Dickinson, and I am entering my 4th and final year as President of UFEA.
This past school year was so challenging. In some ways it was likely the most challenging year in education many of us have ever faced. It was difficult. It was, at times, demoralizing and disheartening. And, it demanded more from each of us — more time, more patience, more energy.
We learned lessons.
We gained perspective.
We grew stronger.
We survived — together.
To paraphrase Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child: We are survivors. We didn’t give up. We didn’t stop, oh, we just worked harder.
We mastered new technology. We connected with others — educators and experts — all over the world. We were flexible — sometimes because we had no choice. We connected with our students just as effectively and meaningfully as always, but often in ways we never had before. And we did it all while flipping back and forth between in-person and remote, or while simultaneously trying to perform the nearly impossible — being in-person and remote. We did it with masks on and while cleaning every inch of our work spaces.
And now we enter a new year — together.
I hope, as I am sure you all do, this year feels a bit more “normal”. We need some more normalcy, and so do our students. We have more than 13,000 of them getting ready to get on buses, walk through neighborhoods and enter our schools and classrooms — some for the first time in over a year!
They all need us. They each need us. As much as ever and more than ever.
They will need us to help them adapt and adjust emotionally and socially. They’ll need us to teach them to analyze data and information accurately. They’ll need us to help them think critically and approach the world with an open, curious mind. They’ll need us to help them learn how to effectively work with others and advocate for themselves. They’ll need us to help them achieve personal excellence. And they will need us to model for them those traits we know are necessary for excellence in education — hard work, energy, passion and excitement.
I know we are up to the task because we’ve demonstrated it time and again. Even when things are difficult, even when things are demoralizing and disheartening, and even when more is demanded of us, we are not defeated.
It reminds me of the words of Maya Angelou:
“All my work, my life, everything is about survival. All my work is meant to say, ‘You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.’ In fact, the encountering may be the very experience which creates the vitality and the power to endure.”
We have encountered defeats before. But, we encounter defeats together. We have endured before. But, we endure together. We must not be defeated. We will not be defeated. Because we have the power to do this, together.
Our students need us. And, we need each other.
As we navigate this new year together, I will continue to be a champion of public education, an advocate for unions, a listening ear and a support for the nearly 1,000 members of UFEA. I appreciate all you do for each other and our students.
And I am proud to be your president, your representative, your advocate.
I hear you.
I see you.
I believe in you.
And I am here for you.
Let’s do this — together!