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President’s Letter

To quote Ed Parker, “the humble man makes room for progress, the proud man believes he is already there”.
What kind of teacher, human being, or President would I be if I did not allow for mistakes and embrace them as a learning moment – and allow them to make me humble.
Thank you to those who have reached out to me this week to show me that there is a broader perspective and as a President who strives for unity, it is necessary that all perspectives are respected and appreciated and acknowledged.
So I ask ALL of us to remember the lessons we pass onto our students and those attributes that make great men greater:
Listen to each other, there is always learning to be had in other perspectives
Sometimes there is not right and wrong, just different
We can respectfully agree to disagree
Everyone matters
We owe it to each other to be respectful and responsible
We all have more to learn
It is my charge to represent and take a position based on the majority of the membership. I have strived to do that and will continue to do that. That being said, alternate perspectives must be respected and represented. Therefore, this union will, in that vein, provide a safe space for all perspectives to be heard, acknowledged and respected. We cannot see the light if we leave your our heads in the sand.
As we all head back into buildings and at some point, in the not too distant future, into a new and different hybrid plan let’s be there for each other, please. There are members who have been in the buildings and who have thrived being in the buildings with their students. There are members who are scared of being in the buildings because of their own health issues, family, etc.  There are some of us who are not being allowed accommodations we had before for very serious health conditions and being made to return (and we may not be sharing because it is so personal) and there are those of us who don’t experience any type of health issues. There are those of us who have students that need to be back in the building desperately, and those of us who don’t want to yield the success we have had with our students to try something different. There are those of us who don’t have a choice but to be with students who can’t wear masks or be six feet distance or spit on us or need their shoes tied and there are those of us who can’t imagine it because we have not had to do it. All of it is acceptable and understandable. We all stand under one umbrella which is our love for our students. This time is not easy for anyone. Every one of us has experienced COVID, the racial divide, the political division, exhaustion, change, the unknown, and so much more this one year has demanded, so very differently. Sometimes I experience it differently within myself day to day or hour to hour. Every one of us has also done their very best, worked their hardest, and has experienced frustration.
That is okay. However you feel, at any given moment, is okay. But it is also okay for those who don’t feel the same at that moment. I am asking that we all just remember that different is okay. Doing your best at any given moment doesn’t always mean it is the best you have ever been, mistakes aren’t reason for condemnation, everyone is learning as we go, there is no playbook, everyone is valid in how they feel.

In closing I offer this: this union, and its’ committee members, have worked endlessly and tirelessly to make sure we are as safe as possible, to try to get the most fair working conditions as possible, and have done their best to represent member needs and the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement.
There are some pros and cons about returning. I ask we acknowledge them and acknowledge we can help each other or hurt each other, it is up to us.
Pros
Seeing our students face to face
Having colleagues who have been doing remote and in person instruction and are there to help us
Plenty of PPE
Health and safety protocols
Respect and responsibility of each other to follow the health and safety protocols
HEPA filters and updated ventilation systems that ensure 90% risk reduction
Principals who are designated point people to help us any way they can
A contract that holds accountable those who don’t
No one is an expert at this
We are all educators and all willing to help one another
You have support
Social interaction again
Some sense of normalcy
An opportunity for more open communication within buildings than has ever been before out of sheer necessity
Cons
Fear of COVID
Difficulties of child care or parent care
Fear of teaching a different way
Having to change schedules or students
We won’t be the best we can be
We won’t be able to use teaching strategies we are used to in a classroom
We won’t be able to use strategies we have developed teaching remotely
The unknown of so many things
Fear of judgment
Protocols not being followed(gently remind people)
I am telling you that in all my negotiations and discussions, one thing is consistent and probably one of the hardest things an educator has a hard time managing – you are not going to be perfect at this. But you are not alone in that. I understand it, your administrators understand it, your colleagues understand it, your students even understand it.
For those with health concerns, you are valid and your union is willing to do all that is possible to help you.
I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend and remembers to take time for self care.


Laura Demakis

President, Chicopee Education Association

Mission Statement

Purpose: the CEA is an organization of educators dedicated to advancing and promoting quality public education, improving teaching and learning conditions, and protecting member’s rights.

The Chicopee Education Association is a member driven organization dedicated to improving the quality of public education, increasing student academic achievement, upholding professional standards, advancing the economic well being of our members, and protecting their rights.

CEA Vision Statement

Objective: within the next two years the CEA will become:

  • An innovative organization whose culture inspires our members to be the best they can be, and helps them to become it.
  • Advocates for learning and working conditions which ensure students and educators reach their full potential.
  • A respected voice on education policy and reform.