As I write this UpFront it has only been a few days since I was notified that I would be remaining as President of our Association for the 2019-21 term of office. It has been my privilege to serve as your President and I am honored to continue. I am very proud of the work that the Executive has accomplished on behalf of our membership; however, it is important to acknowledge that there is still much more to be done. Together with Vice-President Trent Langdon and the other members of Provincial Executive, we all will work to address your concerns and continue to advocate on behalf of the membership and students in Newfoundland and Labrador.
We all know how important education is to the fabric of our province and how it is the best path to moving beyond our current economic challenges and into the brighter future that we all desire and our children deserve. To that end, I have continued to bring our very important message to various stakeholders and special interest groups around the province. I have addressed several Rotary Clubs and there are plans to speak to others. Provincial Chambers of Commerce are also an important audience for our message and I am scheduled to address several in the coming months. My message to these groups is that when education is treated as an investment there are social, health, and economic benefits to the province. There is a critical difference between viewing education as an investment in our collective futures and viewing it as an expense.
When we view education as an expense, the pattern is to reduce the expenditure, to reduce what is provided, to reduce what our students receive. As an investment, the pattern is to support the system, to support our children, our students and all of our futures.
Our responsibility extends beyond the classroom and we must continue to be advocates for what we believe our children deserve. Not the best education possible under the circumstances, but the best possible education. Period.
One of the things that I miss most about my previous role in education is that I do not get to interact as often directly with students. As a teacher this is something that I, and I expect most of you, see as a very positive feature of being a teacher. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I make a point of speaking to groups of students and discussing how I feel my job as NLTA President is an important one. Some of these students look at me with curious expressions and I challenge them to explain why my job is important. The first question I ask them is, “Who are the most important individuals in our school system?” After a little bit of prodding the students eventually land on the correct answer – and that would be them. I then explain what my job is – to ensure that our schools, and teachers, have what they need to educate students. They often ask that if they are the most important individuals in the school system, then why am I not trying to get them what they need. Again, after a bit of discussion, the answer becomes clear. If teachers get what they need, students get what they need. In short, my job is important because they are important.
With the holiday season soon upon us I want to wish each and every one of you a safe and relaxing break. Much success and happiness for 2019.
Until next time.