Wyoming Education Association

Fall 2021

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/1419437

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Page 28 of 31

I always love the start of a new school year. I love seeing the students, and I thrive on the air of nervous excitement. I get to catch up with my colleagues and rekindle friendships. I enjoy participating in new professional development. But the start of this school year feels different to me. We still have COVID-19 looming over us, and there is a heavy and divisive feeling in our country that saddens me . I hear newscasters and politicians talking about how divided we are as a country, how we have never been this divided before, and how we may never come together again. Maybe I am overly optimistic (my husband will tell you I am), but I can't believe this. I won't accept that our values as Americans are so different that we can't agree on anything. The division is an intrusion, and it is intruding on our schools, which are supposed to be safe places. That safety is being degraded by disagreements on topics such as vaccines, wearing masks, critical race theory, school safety, and local, state, and national politics. Much of the division in our country and schools is caused by people who want to be heard but don't want to listen. When we stop to listen, we realize that we are all working toward many common goals. I believe ESPs can be one step in the right direction toward unity because we are all working toward the same thing: We want our students to know they are special, and that their education is important to us. We want students to know that they are the highlights of our day. We want them to be fed, warm, and be in a safe space every day that they're with us. We want to let them know that the color of their skin, their economic status, or who is raising them won't affect how we care for them. We want students to know that, when they enter our buildings, they are loved, and their education is important. And as ESPs, we will help make that education happen. When ESPs go home at the end of each day, we hold our heads high, knowing that we are all working, in unity, toward these common noble goals. I enc ourage you as ESPs to be the start of a solution to our country's division by listening actively and with acceptance of others' views. You may find that you are not so different after all. At the end of the conversation, you may not agree with them, but you may understand their views better and be able to respect their choices. I also encourage you to investigate topics that are important in education. R ead articles from unbiased sources. NEA and WEA are both great resources that focus on students. For additional informative resources about public education, please feel free to reach out to me—or another member of WEA—to help guide you. As ESPs, I urge you: please don't get caught up in or mired down by division or disagreements. Just keep caring for and educating students in our state, and don't let anyt hing distract or dissuade you from your goals. Thank you for the work you do and for the difference you make in students' lives. You are appreciated! Education support professionals Should Come Together to Support Our Common Goals jcatfitz@msn.com (307) 286-4503 Christine Fitzgerald ESP Representative to the WEA Board of Directors In Solidarity, 29

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