President’s Message: We Are PAT

Dear Educator,

It is a bittersweet task to write this, my final President’s Message. It has been my great honor to serve as the president of our union these past two years, and especially during a time of crisis, change, and uncertainty, when the united voice of educators has been more crucial than ever. For all of us, it has been a challenging time to say the least, but I am awed and humbled by what we have accomplished together.

Our union has not only survived the pandemic, we have met every challenge head on. Here are just a few things we achieved together in the last two years: 

  • Becoming a leading voice in an international conversation about the educator workload crisis
  • Strengthening ties with our PPS union partners, SEIU, PFSP, DCU, and ATU, including organizing together for safe and stable schools
  • Organizing with parents across the district for smaller class sizes and more building-based supports for students
  • Bargaining some of the strongest pandemic safety language in the country, enabling us to serve our students in-person while mitigating risk to students, educators, and the community
  • Elevating the voice of educators, through our IPC meetings with district leaders, town halls, and work with elected leaders
  • Bringing elected leaders into our classrooms, through Teacher for a Day, so they can experience the teaching and learning conditions that we live each day
  • Initiating the Advocacy Cadre, empowering members to know and enforce our contract
  • Winning ground-breaking contract language to advance racial equity in our union and in our schools
  • Building community amongst members, in our buildings and across the district through our committee work, projects, and celebrations

Educators have accomplished all this and more--despite an ongoing pandemic, distance learning, hybrid instruction, and intermittent shutdowns; while teaching through masks and over the noise of the air purifier; despite a chronic staffing shortage in our schools, and a revolving-door leadership in our district.  Despite all this, PAT members show up to fight for what our students deserve, and what our profession requires. 

Our power comes from our shared dedication to students, and our belief in what we can accomplish together as a union. 

Of course, we build PAT collectively, so there are many people I would like to recognize and thank: 

  • Gwen Sullivan, our out-going PAT Vice President, who has been a peerless advocate, leader, and partner
  • Our incredible PAT staff who consistently go above and beyond for our members 
  • Our elected PAT officers, Executive Board directors, and OEA Board directors who set and oversee our collective goals 
  • Our Committee Chairs and members of every PAT committee, who work to carry out those goals
  • Each one of our 350+ Building Representatives who are the frontline of our union, and who build solidarity and uphold our contract at every work site
  • Our Advocacy Cadre members, who have empowered so many Reps and members with the knowledge of our contract
  • Our unparalleled Bargaining Teams, both for regular certified educators and for substitutes 
  • Our Internal Organizers and External Organizers who build our unity and power
  • Our Retired members who continue to be active in PAT, whose wisdom and energy continue to bolster us
  • Every member who showed up at school board meeting in blue this year
  • And every member who has helped a colleague in need or advocated for our profession 

Our union is powerful because we share the load and do this work together. 

I am grateful to our incoming PAT leaders, and look forward to supporting them, alongside all of you, next year.

WE are PAT, and I could not be more proud to be a member of our union.

In Solidarity forever,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President