I am humbled, honored and excited to introduce myself to you as your new President of Fort Bend AFT. Our leader of 17 years, Karrie Washenfelder, has decided to retire and under the Constitution of the Fort Bend American Federation of Teachers, Article 5, Section 3, as Vice President I have the honor and privilege to take on the task of leading this organization and continuing the great work that had been part of this Union. I am excited that we can continue the good work Karrie started and look forward to working hard to increase benefits, services and opportunities for our member. I believe that Fort Bend AFT is a professional organization that supports its members through its affiliations to the state and national organizations and provides opportunities for its members to express themselves through advocacy, political issues, and promoting educational professionalism.
I grew up in Fort Bend attending E. A. Jones, Blue Ridge, and Ridgemont Elementary, Missouri City Junior High, Dulles High School and I was in the second graduating class of Willowridge High School. I even worked in Payroll for Fort Bend ISD for several years. My mom worked as a para-professional for 35 years in the district so I also know what paras have to face. I have been in the Fort Bend ISD classroom as a bilingual, special education and GT teacher for the last 12 years. I know the issues that face our teachers in these classrooms. I have been a Building Representative for the last 6 years and on the Executive Board for 3 years serving as Vice President for the last 2 years. I have also worked with Texas AFT on the Quest committee that works on issues of Professional Development and with National AFT as a National Trainer for the English Language Learner 101 course facilitating PD for teachers all over the country. I’ve had the privilege of working with the National AFT Department of Human Rights and Community Relations around issues concerning our immigrant students. This is one of my passions. Prior to becoming an educator, I was in Human Resources for 17 years working in the engineering and Legal field. I opened and ran legal offices for attorneys gathering discovery for mass litigation law suits and was the Benefits Administrator for the Engineering firm. I believe this experience gives me unique perspectives on managing organizations and dealing with attorneys as well as providing knowledge concerning benefits which I believe is a huge issue we continue to address as an organization. I believe my experiences in all these fields have well prepared me to successfully lead this organization and I am excited to have the opportunity to do so.
My vision for our Union in Fort Bend is that through communication, transparency, and building relationships we can engage all of our members in the process improving conditions for our teachers and become a powerful voice that effects positive change in our education system. I believe if we have all these things in place, fighting for things we want will be much easier. But this is not my organization, it is our organization and we must facilitate what you, the members, need.
Things we will continue to fight for are:
– Improve insurance
-Pay – always teacher pay but right now a living wage for support staff!
-Adherence to the law, I.e. conference time and such.
-Fair and transparent discipline for teachers as well as students.
-safe working conditions
In addition, I envision us working on these issues:
-Fair treatment for new teachers
– Equity for all
-Parent action committees
– Community rallies around education issues
-First Book Events
– Recognition for members, administrators, community helper, Parents and students
These are not exclusive or all-encompassing issues, but is a basic outline. Our list of issues will come from you, our members. We will be sending surveys out to find out what you want to see our organization focus on. This is your Union and our focus will be on making sure you all are engaged in everything we do.
Again, I am so excited for our future together and I look forward to working with each and everyone of you to make our voices heard.