Board Meeting Notes
Next Executive Board Meeting ~ June 3 ~ South ~ 3:15
From STA President, Andrea Pires (Opening Day Speech)
Welcome back! September is always my favorite time of year. Everything is new and exciting. So to start this New Year, I’d like to introduce you to your new officers:
Vice President - John Gunning
Secretary- Kim Kellog
Treasurer- Linda Smith
Grievance/Negotiation Team- Melanie Ingrao high school, Ken Kalen Gibbons, Bill Gorman high school, Molly O’Connell high school, and Susan Rock Hansen
Your Building Representatives:
High School: Mike Ingrao, Pat Small and Dan Fitzgerald
O’Donnell Middle School: Chad Kelley and Rich Grasso
Gibbons School: Jen Angelos
Hansen: Kerry Sullivan
Dawe: Linda Nobil
Jones School: Joanne Rose
Sick Bank Rep: Linda Rondeau
Public Relations Rep: Craig Beaulieu
NCTA Rep: Kathy Rahaman
We are looking for representatives at the West and South School as well as a representative for School Committee. Please let me know if you are interested in these positions.
Thank you all for your time and commitment this upcoming year. I look forward to working with you.
I would also like to welcome all the new STA members to the Stoughton Family!
Before I move on I want to say a few words about our past president, Susan Cogliano. Although Susan could not be here this morning I would like to acknowledge her dedication to the STA. Susan has been the president of the STA for four years. During that time, she has forged a relationship with a new superintendent, overseen reorganizations, settled two contracts, and handled many issues behind the scenes. She has answered thousands of emails and questions from members and spent many sleepless nights working on spreadsheets and memorandums. Even though Susan’s term is over, I know she wishes to still be active in the STA and she has promised to continue doing spreadsheets for me. Thank you Susan for being a wonderful leader, role model and mentor.
I’d like to take a minute to introduce myself. I’m Andrea Pires, President of the Stoughton Teacher’s Association. I grew up in the small town of Rehoboth, but my family’s roots in Stoughton run deep. As a matter of fact, if you happened to run into Honey Dew Donuts this morning for a coffee, you may have seen my great uncles, John and Butch Pires, or my grandfather, Henry, having a coffee, solving the world’s problems or remembering Butch’s glory days on the Stoughton High Football team where he set many records. My grandfather and grandmother built their home on Simpson Street shortly after they were married. There they raised my dad, Henry Jr., my aunt Karen and my uncle Mark. My dad likes to boast that during his entire Stoughton Public Schools’ career, he never had to cross the street to get to school! I spent many years as a child watching the Stoughton Fourth of July fireworks from the pool in that back yard. I recall watching the Black Knights football teams during their double sessions practicing on the fields while I played on the swings at my grandparents’ house. My Dad met my mom, Debbi Cullen while working at Roxie’s Grocery Store, and they graduated from Stoughton High School in 1974. Some of you might know my aunt, Linda Nobil, who currently works as a 3rd grade teacher at the Dawe, or you might remember my grandmother, Jackie Sloan who worked as the secretary at OMS for over twenty years. I have always felt that I was a part of Stoughton as I have many fond childhood memories in this town. As a result, I thought, “What better way to give back than becoming the President of an organization that has influenced my family and their education for generations?”
I believe in unions and in the collective power that our union gives us when each and every one of us joins together for the common good. Many voices are more powerful than one. When we work together we can promote positive outcomes to benefit every child with whom we work.
I have been actively involved in the STA since my first year of teaching in Stoughton. In the past six years, I have attended every STA general meeting, was elected building rep for the South School, served on the grievance/negotiating team, participated as a delegate to the MTA annual meeting for 3 years, attended and presented at the Williamstown summer conference for 2 years, joined the MTA New Member Committee and this summer was a representative in Washington DC at the NEA representative assembly.
As I have become increasingly involved with the union, many people have asked me, “Why did you want to get involved in the union or Why do I pay dues dollars?” I’m here today to answer both questions with one simple answer. The reason I get involved and the reason you pay dues dollars is to maintain and preserve this document, our contract. I’m not talking about the ink and pages in the contract I’m talking about the content on these pages. These 84 pages affect your everyday life. It tells you how long your work day is and when you can get home to your family. This document lets you know how many days you can take off to attend to a sick child or sick parent or how many nights you will need to conduct school business and be away from your family. This contract outlines how many days you can spend with your family after the death of a loved one and most importantly it tells you how much you will make a year and whether or not you can afford that house you may want. This document is your constitution and Bill of Rights and we unite to protect it. We pay money to protect it.
Now I know the struggle that teachers think they face, do what’s best for our students or follow the wording in the contract and sometimes it seems like the two conflict. I would argue that the two are the same. If we don’t protect the wording in our contract or God forbid we didn’t have one, how does that help our students? Do you think your students would benefit from a teacher who had to come in when she was sick because we weren’t afforded sick days? Do you think our students would benefit from a teacher who didn’t have any prep periods during the day to plan or copy for a lesson? I would argue the stronger our contract and our union the better it is for our students. If we continue to fight for a fair salary, then you might not need to work that second job and imagine the lessons you could plan with all your free time. You could spend more time supporting your students at their athletic events and theatrical performances. The more we protect the wording in our contract, the better it is for our students. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Massachusetts students test scores are number one in the nation, and Massachusetts has one of the strongest teacher unions in the country.
With that being said, we all know we have an election this coming November, NEA and MTA support President Barak Obama’s reelection and MTA is supporting Elizabeth Warren for Senator. The decision to vote is yours, of course, but I encourage you to research the candidates and choose the candidate that supports our union, our students, and their education. As Walter Ruther, 4th president of the United Auto Workers Union once said, “The bread box is directly related to the ballot box.” We will not be able to take care of our families or fill our bread boxes if we as a nation cast a ballot for a president who wishes to destroy unions. We cannot afford to have a president or a senator who takes away our right to bargain for a fair wage. We need to protect our pension benefits, we need to preserve our right to bargain over health insurance, and we need a way to recognize and reward teachers who are lifelong learners and are constantly striving to improve educational practices. We cannot continue to be attacked when we work so diligently for the betterment of our students. So I strongly urge you to research the candidates and cast your vote for someone who will support us as educators and union members.
In closing, it is imperative that you be an active member of your union. As many of you know we will be introducing a new evaluation tool in the near future. I look forward to working collaboratively with our members and administration on this new tool to improve student learning and to enhance Stoughton Public Schools. We need you to attend the ten minute meetings in your building and let your reps know what is working and what is not. It is essential that you play an active role in protecting your own interest as well as your students’ interests. I encourage you to attend general meetings and read your union emails so that you will be an informed union member. I also encourage you to attend STA socials and connect with other members. It’s nice to have some adult conversation with like-minded people.
Thank you for your attention as I know you’re all eager to get back to your buildings and into your classrooms. I look forward to getting to know you all and working as your president. Have a great first day of school and a successful school year.