Our President, Ellen Ogintz, was selected by NJEA Vice-president Marie Blistan to deliver the inspirational message at the May 17th NJEA Delegate Assembly. For a woman who usually has A LOT to say, this assignment was not easy. Ellen really wanted to inspire, yet get her true feelings across.
We think Ellen did just that!
Here’s what she had to say:
Good morning Colleagues.
For many of us, the school year is winding down and coming to a close. We can reflect on our accomplishments, both personally and as NJEA members, and reflect, as well, on what we can do differently, going forward, to get the results we want.
September will bring forth a new crop of educators AND NJEA members…some eager to get started, and some a bit hesitant about doing a job they always wanted to do because of what they hear “out there”.
What should we do about THAT? What is our responsibility as the more “seasoned” educators?
What do these new educators need from US?
For one thing, they need our support and encouragement. They need us sitting around in the staff room sharing our SUCCESS stories, our passion for what we do, our joy. They need to hear us laugh and be optimistic that the tide will turn…we know it always does. They need US to inspire them and to be their role models.
They need to hear from us that, “Yes…things have changed in education, but what students REALLY NEED has not really NOT changed that much. The students still need us.”
Please…promise our new colleagues this September that our students today will still remember, many years from now, how we made them FEEL as opposed to teaching them multiplication facts. And you ALL know I’m right.
They need us to continue to lead the fight for public education and due process and our reputation as professionals and all the rest.
We cannot sit in that teacher’s room saying we are quitting…saying it’s hopeless…questioning their choice of profession. Asking them “Why” they went into teaching instead of blah, blah and blah.
We KNOW why! We KNOW that the future does NOT happen without what we do today.
We must be role models for change…for tenacity…for “chutzpah” (and I can translate that last one during lunch).
And if anyone can do that, we of NJEA can do that.
I would like to end my three minute message…which is six minutes by now…with a short poem by Langston Hughes that sums it all up. And if you know it, please say it with me…
This is for YOU Governor, and commissioner, and State Board of Ed, and Koch Brothers, and Broad academy robots, and the rest of you so called “experts” and “money changers”:
I been scared and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,
Looks like between ’em they done
Tried to make me
Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’–
But I don’t care!
I’m still here!