Becoming a teacher is about more than lesson plans and learning styles. In an effort to teach students about all aspects of becoming an educator, Heather Herringshaw welcomed Nancy Phelps, Labor Relations Specialist from NYSUT (New York State United Teachers) to her Introduction to Teaching and Education class.
“If we can get our kids career-ready and informed beforehand, they can make better decisions,” said Herringshaw.
Phelps is the Labor Representative for all three unions that represent employees in the Windsor Central School District. She wants these students to be informed about the role a union will play in their career now, instead of when they are just starting in their profession.
“They actually don’t have a lot of knowledge about unions at all. They may only know what they see on TV,” said Phelps.
“When we first start teaching is often the first time we are exposed to a union,” said Herringshaw.
The students asked Phelps a number of questions, including whether only public employees have unions and whether joining a union is mandatory. Phelps used examples of sports unions as private industries that have unions.
She also spoke about the recent Janus v. AFCME Supreme Court decision which ended the compelled collection of union dues for public employees in explaining that paying union dues is not mandatory.
“The worry is that unions will lose a lot of members, but in New York the reaction has been very good,” Phelps told the students. “You have to maintain at least 51 percent of membership to be a union. But, more importantly, you need everyone (to be successful). I think the idea that many hands do important work is true.”
“It makes me feel safer trying to be a teacher. It shows I have a safety net and makes me more excited to be a teacher,” said senior Brady Weingartner, who want to be a Physical Education teacher.
“Even if you’re not going to be a teacher it’s important for millennials to know this stuff. We’re out there on our own. It’s important to know what this is and be educated about it,” said senior Maralee Bixby.
The Introduction to Teaching and Education class is a college-level course through SUNY Broome at Windsor Central High School. Its debut this year is part of the District’s Future Ready Knights program to make students more career-ready. Education is one of seven career pathways the program is developing.
Among other activities the class has scheduled is exploring the District, Windsor Human Development and SUNY Broome to learn about food insecurity and the obstacles it can pose to education.