New teachers meet Association leaders in Pueblo
Suzanne Ethredge (right) awards a prize basket
The Pueblo Education Association served up pizza and passed out prizes, but new teachers in the Pueblo City Schools District were told they deserve much more.
"Everytime I go to any kind of a concert, in my heart of hearts I believe teachers should be treated like the performers are treated when they walk out on the stage," PEA President Suzanne Ethredge said at a new teacher orientation, July 23, at the district office. "There's the music, there's lights and there's smoke - every teacher deserves to be a rock star in their classroom."
Ethridge told the new teachers of the many ways her Association works to deliver rock-star treatment to members during a presentation covering the benefits of belonging to the PEA and the Colorado Education Association.
Lawrence Garcia, one of three NEA directors in Colorado, spoke at the orientation and encouraged new teachers to reach out to other teachers for support.
"As a brand new teacher, I felt like I was on an island, like I was by myself. And it shouldn't be that way," said Garcia. "Talk to the other teachers around you; open up that door. Teaching is a collaborative effort."
While teaching math in Denver for several years, Garcia said he found fellow association members had the most heart and caring for students and helped him find his voice to advocate for student success.
"As Lawrence Garica, 9th grade teacher in Denver, I don't have a whole lot of influence on what happens in my school or in the district," said Garcia. "Yet when I have 3,000 teachers with me in Denver, or nearly 40,000 teachers with me at the state, or three million nationally, guess what? I now have a huge voice and people are listening. It's really amazing."
The new teachers also heard from Brad Bartels, CEA's deputy general counsel, on their legal responsibilities on the job. They learned about their duty to report suspected child abuse, the boundries of free speech and expression for students, and the risks of communicating with students through personal calls, texts and social media postings.
The afternoon wasn't all briefings though. In small groups, the new teachers were challenged to form the tallest, free-standing structure they could in 15 minutes, using only the materials placed out on their desks. Each member of the winning team, posing below with their structure, scored a $10 Starbucks gift card.
The Pueblo Education Association signed up 34 new members at the new teacher orientation.