Teachers Support Students After the Fires
Students and teachers returned to classrooms a week after the devastating fires in Redwood Valley and Potter Valley. I know I speak for all our 337 UTA members when I say that we grieve with families for the lives lost, and we thank all of our first responders as we look forward to a brighter day and the rebuilding of our community.
California Teachers Association and Ukiah Teachers Association were instrumental in giving grants of more than $20,000 to teachers who suffered losses and were either evacuated from or lost their homes in the fire. This is just one of the many benefits of belonging to a union—our Ukiah Teachers Association helps all members, in good times and bad.
UUSD teachers might not have been first responders in the fire, but you can rest assured that we are long-term responders, helping students cope with this tragedy and rebuild their lives every single day. In an effort to remain a steady, reassuring presence for students, many of the affected teachers have opted to miss as little school as possible as they handle their own insurance claims, adjusters, cleanup and other activities required to begin the long-term rebuilding of their homes and lives. And teachers at Eagle Peak Middle School have been “adopting” students, supporting them through the recovery process by providing school essentials and clothing, as well as helping to purchase personal items lost in the fire.
TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM
As UTA President, I am so proud of all our teachers’ support of local students. In the classroom, our teachers use innovative methods to instruct students, bringing in virtual reality glasses, audio technology tools and other new programs. In science, teachers are beginning to offer more hands-on activities that correspond with the Next Generation Science Standards. Student enthusiasm soars when they have the opportunity to learn in these new ways!
In addition to incorporating computer technology in their curriculum, teachers use technology to gain unprecedented access to student performance data, which helps us identify students who need more help in grasping concepts before we move them on—and before they lose interest in learning.
FUNDING FOR OUR SCHOOLS
To support all this work, we need funding, of course. One way parents can help us maximize the money we receive from the state is to turn in the free-and-reduced-lunch paperwork for their students. This paperwork helps increase funding for programs that provide extra support for our most needy students. Another way to increase funding is to make sure students attend school every single day.
When parents pull their students out of school for any reason, schools and students both lose. Schools lose funding and students lose educational opportunities. Some parents believe the first years of school are not as important as the high school years, but studies show otherwise. TK and kindergarten students need to be in school every day, just like everyone else. These early years build the foundation for lifelong learning. They are the most important years in programming the brain to think critically and process information, developments that lead to the ability to read, write and calculate. Please plan your vacations for times when students are not in school. We would like to raise our attendance rate by at least one percent district-wide. To achieve the goal, we need every family’s help.
In addition to sending your student to school every day, consider participating as a volunteer in your child’s school. You can assist with fundraising efforts, field trips, and even classroom support throughout the day! Parent support is crucial to student success; teachers cannot possibly do everything for every child in their classrooms without help. We know students really enjoy it when their parent is involved at school. At the elementary level, students love it when their parents come and eat lunch with them, accompany them on a field trip or plan a class party. As teachers, we do our best to make sure every student feels safe, heard and valued at school. We appreciate it when parents help us provide an environment where every student can succeed. Have a love-filled Thanksgiving break!