How long have you been working in the district?
17 years started when my youngest started school at Jefferson. I was a registrar at Albert Leonard and then I became a general school aide because my kids were off during the summer. I’ve been a general school aide for 15 yrs. I enjoy it. I deal w kids. I enjoy it. I like that interaction. NRHS… half time helping the director, Bruce Daniele in the office w cameras. 2004 to 2005 at ALMS.
GSA NRHS - it’s good and bad… I love interacting with the wonderful talented students in our school. I’ve mentored a couple of students to get them to graduate in the past.. That was very rewarding.. It’s hard. You have to have an open mind.. Hard bc we don't have enough GSA. Once we had one at every corner.. But now you cover not only your hall but the hallway on the left and right and the stairwells.. More with less… people retired or left and they never rehired or they hired hourlies who could only work however many hours at a time.. Full-timers have left including a supervisor.. They don’t want to pay the health; it’s cheaper to get an hourly… no benefits for them.
What encouraged you to become involved in the union?
Prior to my role as VP, I was a building rep at the HS. Marty and Billy moved up, and they approached me to step into Billy’s role. I was appointed and then elected to the position. I guess it’s 2 years.
Can you tell us a little bit about the position you hold in leadership, what you do in it and why it’s an important position for our members?
It’s enlightening. Everyone has their input and different perspectives. I bring the SRP perspective. We get to understand different aspects. It helps to get different points of view. We don’t always agree. It’s helpful to express the issues that you’re having.
Usually, it’s every second Tues at the FUSE office.. Or zoom now… agenda past minutes and topics that we hit.. New issues that come to the board that we discuss.. PPE.. regarding COVID that was the hot topic.
What is the most difficult and / or most rewarding part of your work for the district and your work in leadership?
Most difficult for me anyway is not getting the answers quickly enough for our members.. I want it like yesterday and I don’t have the patience to wait a week to get an answer.. I’ll email later to get an answer. Get it quickly… our members are waiting for an answer. Unfortunately, the answers are not always what they want or what we like, but that’s just the way it goes.
The most rewarding part is... gosh there are so many... when we get answers, it’s positive. It makes the job a lot easier and puts the employees at ease.. Or when we fight for them to get that answer.
It’s rewarding to work with the people on leadership and bring different perspectives to the table.. You could be wrong. If someone is a little more enlightened on that subject…. I’m new at the position and some of them have been in that position a while.. and I'm not afraid to admit it.
What do you like about leadership as a person?
I see a whole different group of people.. Not only GSA. I’m dealing w other aspects.. Buildings and Grounds, clerical.. I didn’t have any dealings with them before. I like meeting new people and being open to their concerns.. Meeting the different people and understanding where are they coming from.. And also other schools.. It's rewarding meeting new people and trying to help them with their questions and concerns.
What advice do you give to younger members who are thinking about becoming more involved in union leadership activities?
My advice to younger members is to get on board a lower level or as a building rep to see how everything works and eventually become a part of union leadership. It’s the staff at different levels. It helps to recognize that change doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and perseverance and strong leaders walking by your side. It will happen.
We need new blood. It can't be the same old people at BOE meetings.. Newcomers are starting to talk… sometimes it’s that broken record… that same person.. Getting more voices involved.. SRP, custodians, GSA.... all ranges are fed up.
What or who motivates and/or inspires you personally? Or Do you have a story of something that has happened in your work or in your life that we could share?
17 years ago, I was diagnosed w breast cancer. It was detected whe I was 39. I was treated. Three years later, I had to undergo more.. and I had to do it for my kids.. My youngest was in K or first grade. I wasn’t afraid to talk about what I was going through and that made me stronger. You see yourself with the younger kids… they don’t see you like you see yourself.. One a little kid asked, Can we see it? I remember I took the scarf off.. It has made me stronger. My mentality was it was a cold ,and it was going to go away.. 17 years later.. I am willing to help anyone who has it give me a call here is my number.
It was tough. There were set backs ,infections and stuff. It took a while and surgeries. and Faith. My oldest son is 33. My second son is 30. My daughter turned 25 this past weekend. I have grandchildren. Circle of life.
I've been married for 36 years. You don’t see that too often these days.
Last question... What do you like to do outside of work?
I'm an arts and crafty person. I like making things.. I knitted a huge blanket.. It got out of hand… it’s so big… (laughs) for my granddaughter with rosettes or something.
I like working out. Right before work at 5 am. I have an app on my phone that I stream to my TV.. Sometimes you don’t want to get out of bed. I work out in the morning before work.. the day just seems better. Even though you are exhausted at the end of the day, you feel better during the whole day, not just that hour.
I meditate it helps a LOT. People don’t realize it.. It is going to take a few things because people aren’t used to just sitting and relaxing and meditating. My nerves were jumping out of my skin, and I had to try it … it puts me at ease a calmness comes over me.
During the summer, I go to the park or by the water… w my blanket and people watch.
And, spending time with my grandson ... that's a no-brainer.. He’s making sentences now so we just laugh.