As always, June is a time for reflection. This was not how I thought my year would go but becoming President of your Association six months ago has been a fantastic experience and I have learned much in a short period of time. It has been an extremely busy and challenging year with many changes happening at RETTA, MTS, and the province.
When Tim told me back in November that he had accepted a job as a staff officer at MTS, I knew this would be an interesting year. Not only would I step into the role of president, but we would have to appoint a vice-president in my place. Fortunately Kirsten Mundle stepped up and has done an excellent job as your new vice-president. Our Executive also kicked it up a notch this year, welcoming Andrea Zaroda as a new executive member, and worked through the transition while also leading us through some new projects this year including the New Teacher Welcome event, the Women in Leadership Committee, and the Night at the Beach event. And of course Janice Bell has been our rock through the transition and kept things running as smoothly as ever. My thanks go to Kirsten, Janice, and the entire Executive for their hard work this year.
Our RETTA Council Members, who represent the members of RETTA, have done a great job this year. So much of the Association’s work requires Council’s participation as it allows RETTA to advocate for members and to keep our colleagues throughout River East Transcona informed. Council Members are vital links to our members and participation at our Council meetings is always strong. Simply put, RETTA has the best Council in the province!
Thanks also to the Trustees and the Superintendent’s Department for their collaboration on issues that were significant to members. The channels of communication are always open and accessible, and the Association values the positive relationship we have built over the years.
It was a year of change at MTS as well. My first year sitting on the Provincial Executive was a busy one. We started the year working hard towards taking the provincial bargaining model that MTS developed in 2011 and turned it into an operational protocol as well as dealing with the announcement of the K-12 Education Review. This year also saw the departure of the MTS General Secretary which caused some internal shuffling of staff but I have great confidence that our MTS is as strong as ever and ready to take on the challenges ahead. Our new President, James Bedford, and a new Vice President, Nathan Martindale, are ready to lead us into the next few years.
The Premier of Manitoba has called an early election. And this, my friends and colleagues, is where I have a summer assignment for you all. On September 10th, it is imperative that you, and everyone you know, vote. Education has seen changes and a number of challenges over the last couple years. I realize that September is a crazy month for teachers, but I can’t overstate the importance of having our voices heard at the polls this fall. I’m not telling you who to vote for but I’m sincerely hoping that you, and everyone you know, will vote with public education in mind. So this summer, while you relax at the cottage, the beach, perhaps around the campfire or pool, I implore you to have conversations with anyone who will listen (especially voters!) and tell your stories. Talk about the challenges that students are facing with increased class sizes, the learning needs of the students who need special supports, the effect poverty has on student learning. Tell the story of your students, the children of those people you talk to. Those are the ones most affected by government education policies and funding. Encourage them to vote for education and for kids. And while you’re at it, remind them that school isn’t the same as it was 30 years ago when we were kids and just because you went to school, doesn’t make you an expert on education. There has to be some trust in what teachers are saying about education. That’s our gig, after all.
And one more addition to your summer homework, please sign up for MyProfile on the MTS website. Over the next few months there will be communication coming directly from MTS and the more members they can reach, the better. And while you are doing that, they have recently sent out a survey, in partnership with the University of Winnipeg. This voluntary and anonymous survey on Safe & Inclusive Workplaces is very important and can be accessed through your MyProfile page. It will take some time but this data is extremely important, especially in the context of an uncertain political environment with the possibility of so much educational change. All MTS members will benefit from a strong response on this survey
And finally, if you’ve made it this far into my long-winded year-end President’s Message, and on behalf of both myself and Kirsten, I thank you, the members of RETTA, for your energy, your ideas and your commitment to education. Now take some time in the summer to catch your breath and recharge! It is my honour and privilege to serve as your President and I am very proud to have had the opportunity to work on your behalf and to work for you. In these last few days and going forward, please remember to take care of yourself, and take care of each other.