President’s Column: Telling your stories

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President’s Column: Telling your stories

Voice: May 2017

One of the most important things you do as educators and support professionals is help students develop the skills they need to think for themselves, take responsibility for their lives, and be successful.

Along the way, you are teaching them to be engaged citizens, strong leaders, and good men and women.

I know that, like me, you have inspiring stories to tell about the students who have passed through your classrooms and schools, and the young lives that have been changed by the remarkable work you do – in the course of your “normal” day.

Have you told those stories?

Have you shared with your friends, family, and neighbors why you chose to do this difficult work and what it’s meant to you?

Too often, we don’t tell our stories. Maybe we don’t have time. Maybe we don’t think about it. Maybe we think, “It’s no big deal. It’s just what I do.”

It is a big deal.

One researcher estimated that educators make 1,500 decisions throughout the course of a typical school day. Fifteen hundred. Then, there’s the after-school work – the grading, the curriculum planning, the instructional design. Staff meetings and parent-teacher conferences. Bargaining and negotiations.

No wonder we don’t get the word out about what we do. We’re too busy doing it.

That’s where your union comes in. Last month, PSEA released a series of short videos telling everyone about the incredible work that you are doing for Pennsylvania students every day.

These digital ads played on Facebook, Twitter, and media websites across the state. I hope you’ve seen one of them.

Each video reminds viewers that there is no such thing as an ordinary day in Pennsylvania’s public schools. Every day is extraordinary because PSEA members are giving their all to bring the power of a great education to every single student.

You can watch the digital ads at and share them with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve often said that as advocates for good public schools, we have an obligation to speak out, to talk to our building and district administrators, to call and email our legislators, to sign petitions and rally for our schools.

We also have an obligation to tell people about the important work we are doing in school districts across Pennsylvania.

There is an unprecedented number of attacks on educators today – from the U.S. secretary of education to certain lawmakers in Harrisburg to advocacy groups that want to undermine public schools. It can be overwhelming, demoralizing, and frustrating. It can make you angry.

Put that anger to good use. You are part of an organization of 180,000 men and women who are educating our children and preparing them for a bright and successful future. Your dedication to your students benefits all Pennsylvanians.

Let’s tell the world about it.

Email Jerry Oleksiak: