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May/June 2021

It’s hard to believe it has been four years since I wrote my first Up Front article. I began that submission by stating: “We all have dates that mark significant events in our lives. The day we were born, got married, had children, or other life altering events and situations. One of those dates for me was the day I became a teacher and at the same time also became a very proud member of the NLTA. Like all teachers in this province, the moment I taught my first class I became a part of our Association. The journey that eventually brought me to be your President started when I taught my first class. I’m very proud to be able to represent all of you and the day I was elected as your President marks another one of those significant life events.”

I find myself now looking at another significant date. That date will be July 31, 2021 and it will mark the end of my time as the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association. The past four years have gone by very quickly and it has been my pleasure to have been afforded the honor and privilege of representing all of you. I can only hope my representation and advocacy served you and your colleagues in the manner you deserved and needed. As my presidency concludes, I will forever be thankful for the feedback I have received. Not only the feedback that was in support of the directions being taken, ,but also the feedback that questioned and suggested a different approach. It is never helpful to only hear that which you like to hear – hearing what is needed is more important and helpful. That feedback was always part of the deliberations. At times it caused a change in direction, at other times a reaffirmation of the path we were on. But it was always taken into account and I am grateful for receiving it.

This year was certainly not how I expected my last year as President to be. If I was in charge of writing the script, it would have been a lot more Robert Munsch and a lot less Steven King! But that’s another story for another day. Thinking back to March 2020, I can’t help but marvel at how amazingly well teachers handled the initial shutdown. And my admiration has just continued to grow since that time. I am continually reminded of just how resilient, hardworking, and committed you are.

The degree to which your students have coped with this pandemic and still found success is directly related to the efforts of you – our members. I know those efforts have caused significant strain on each and every one of you, impacting your personal health and wellbeing. In order to be good to your students, and give them what they need, it is important to ensure that you are giving yourselves what you need. When conditions are far from ideal we all have to look at what we are able to give based on current circumstances. In other words, to create the learning conditions that students need, we need to start with creating the teaching conditions that you need.

Over the coming weeks and months this Association will continue to engage with both government and the school districts to press and advocate for what is needed. Premier Furey publicly committed to conduct the long overdue review of the allocation model for our province’s schools. This year the school counsellor allocations and administrator allocations were reverted to what was recommended in 2008. We need not only a return to 2008, but we need to have a system that meets 2021 needs. Class size and composition was an issue long before COVID, it was crystallized during COVID, and will absolutely need to be addressed post-COVID.

In a few short months the incoming Provincial Executive with Trent Langdon as President and Maureen Doyle-Gillingham as Vice-President will take on the task of leading this Association. There will no doubt continue to be challenges, but the Association must always rise to meet them. Rising up to meet them must include continued advocacy for what is right for our members. What is right for our members is what is right for our students. Teaching Conditions are Learning Conditions.

In closing, to those members who are concluding your careers, let me offer my sincere congratulations and wish you all the best in whatever comes next for you. A career of dedicated service deserves to be recognized and celebrated. This year’s celebrations might be dampened, but the significance of your career is not. Congratulations and best wishes to you all.

Thank you once again for affording me the honor of sitting as NLTA President. Thank you for your support over the past four years and most importantly, thank you for all your efforts. I have always concluded my Up Fronts by stating “until next time.” This time I want to end by simply saying…

Thank You.