It has been a privilege to serve the educators of Davis Teachers Association. As I reflect on the great efforts, challenges, and successes of this year, I recognize one clear truth: we are better when we engage. We are better when we engage with our students. We are better when we engage in our school’s community. We are better when we engage with our Union.
Each of the achievements of this year were only possible because of DTA members who volunteered their time, effort, and passion. We successfully advocated for and helped pass Measure G, which will allow us to continue to attract and retain the educators our students deserve. We updated our Union bylaws so that we can have a governance structure that best serves our members. We navigated the challenges of the shutdown relating to the global pandemic with poise and care.
Most recently our membership has been focused on our return to school in the Fall. While there has been progress on that front, DTA must continue to work for what is best for our students and educators. We need to ensure the health and safety of us and our loved ones, and each of us must adapt our practices in order to best serve our students. Our work continues, but I have the utmost faith in our ability to meet the challenges ahead of us as we begin the Professional Development and planning for the upcoming year.
In closing, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities, experiences, and friendships I have made this year as President, and I will continue to do so as I now transition into the role of past-President. Davis Teachers Association’s governance dictates that the presidential term begins on the first Monday in August, thus allowing me the honor of passing the title and duties of President to Dianna Stommel. I am confident that under her leadership, we can continue to progress forward to do what is best for our students and educators.
Victor Lagunes, DTA Past President
Thank you for the honor of representing you this year. I know that summer has not been particularly restful for any of us as we’ve gone from experiencing optimism about the possibility of school reopening to dealing with the uncertainty of what school will look like in the fall, all the while worrying about the health and safety of our students, our families, and our colleagues.
We are in unprecedented times, but our colleagues have stepped up. DTA thanks our educators, who worked tirelessly in the District Action Teams over the summer—they have been giving their voices and expertise in planning all facets of the coming school year. We also thank our negotiations team led by Frank Thomsen for reaching our first MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with DJUSD for the reopening of school in the fall, which includes paid professional development time, as well as sick days if you happen to get sick with COVID 19. We also recognize our PAC (Political Action Committee) for interviewing candidates for the school board appointment. While the timeline and summer break prevented DTA from endorsing a candidate, as it turns out, we will have an opportunity to do so in the fall election.
We also recognize all that YOU have done this summer, from reworking your curriculum for online learning and familiarizing yourself with new software to reading books for your classes and attending professional development. This is the work that we always do; however, in the midst of a pandemic, coupled with widespread protests and a national conversation about systemic racism and injustice, that work and time for reflection as educators is more important than ever. I also know that I represent some of the kindest and best teachers around–so while you may have read or heard some criticism from pundits or community members on message boards and facebook groups, remember that we have earned–through our dedication and commitment to students–the overwhelming support of parents and the wider community.
We begin a school year unlike any other, and it seems that while one aspect of our year has been decided, there are many unknowns–including a possible recession, state cuts to education, as well as the virus. As a union, we have a difficult road ahead of us. Yet, we should be optimistic. Over the past few years we have seen the power of solidarity with one another. We will need each other to face whatever challenges this year will bring. Please remember that we can only be as successful as your willingness to be involved in your union. I know that our schedules are full, but please consider volunteering either as a site rep, an organizing committee member, or a PAC member. There will also be an election at start of school for our Executive Board. With your involvement and support, anything is possible.
I look forward to serving you. If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.