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A column on education in Watkins Glen
The following was written by Travis Durfee, President of the Watkins Glen Faculty Association. It is the eighth in a continuing series of monthly columns.
Back to School Edition
The back-to-school season is upon us, and what queues the end-of-summer blues in some has others of you jumping for joy at a new year ahead.
Labor Day marks summer's last gasp for students, families and educators, and with it comes time to reflect on the efforts of this country's labor movement. The Watkins Glen Faculty Association (WGFA) looks to continue the legacy of the folks who brought you the weekend, the minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, and the concept of overtime. To that end, our union has been busy this summer carrying on the traditions of organized labor with an eye toward community action.
Five members of the WGFA travelled to Saratoga Springs this summer for training with our affiliated union, the New York State United Teachers. Other WGFA members dedicated time to meet with regional labor leaders at a conference at the Harbor Hotel. In our brainstorming sessions we developed ideas for a fulfilling school year for our community.
Recently, we joined vendors and small businesses from our community at the ever-popular Clute Park Market. We sponsored a viewing of "Wayne's World” for the Movies in the Park event and provided free books and back-to-school supplies in collaboration with the WG Parent-Teacher Organization. We also began sharing our opposition to the upcoming vote on the constitutional convention (the con-con for short). The WGFA opposes giving lobbyists and Albany insiders an opportunity to re-write our state constitution. Watch this space for more information about why we urge you to vote no on the constitutional convention.
It is hard to pick your head up in town without recognizing the development and investments in the village of Watkins Glen. The community is hard at work re-envisioning itself in the wake of generous investments from the state of New York. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) could dramatically reshape our community for years to come. The WGFA has been in conversations concurrent with that theme of revitalization.
Earlier this year, our district welcomed a new leader, Greg Kelahan. Working in collaboration with our new superintendent, dozens of WGFA members have participated in wide-ranging conversations to help focus the vision for our school district. We are entertaining some big questions:
What measures show that we are preparing our students for the world?
What values do our organization represent?
How will the district change in the next 10 years?
As the teachers and administrators chew on these questions, our ideas will be shared with the elected Board of Education. We look forward to advancing the school district with our combined vision, effort and expertise. These lofty goals will need more than just a summer session to work through, especially when sudents return to school next week.
As we prepare to help our students dust the cobwebs gathering near the entrance to their minds, many faculty association members are geared up and ready for the year ahead. The classrooms and libraries throughout the district have been full of teachers working through professional development and collaborating with colleagues. We are working hard to make sure our students experience excellence on day one.
One of the great thrills of the summer was preparing the Welcome to School bags for our newest students. Union leaders and pre-kindergarten teachers stuffed backpacks with welcome gifts for the 60-plus students entering pre-k for the first time. We want their first encounter with our district to bring a smile, and that smile to be the first of many.
We have many other exciting new initiatives to share with the community this year. Here is to a great start to the new school year for our students and community.
Photos in text:
Top: Travis Durfee.
Bottom: WGFA members Jamie Pokerwinski, left, and Jeanette Lasko at the Clute Park Market on Wednesday, Aug. 23 providing free books to the community. (Photo provided)
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869