Story and photos by Jo Mathis
When AAEA President Linda Carter began her teaching career with Ann Arbor Public Schools 41 years ago, she walked into the Forsythe teachers’ lounge during a break.
A new colleague spotted the petite 22-year-old, and—apparently thinking she was one of the kids—said, “Young lady, you shouldn’t be in here!”
“It’s OK!” said another teacher. “Miss Carter is our new orchestra director.”
Decades later, Carter’s motto is: “Year 41. And still having fun.”
“The beginning of a new school year is always exciting,” says Carter. ”Meeting new kids; building the relationships. It’s just an exciting time. “
The district has hired about 80 new teachers due to retirements, resignation and program needs. About 20 new Teaching Assistant/ParaEducators will also be hired in the coming days.
On Friday, new teachers spent the day talking with AAPS administrators, touring the district, signing up for the union, and enjoying a picnic hosted by the AAEA’s Minority Retention Program.
MEA Secretary-Treasurer Rick Trainer reminded the teachers that AAPS is special in several ways, including the fact that it is able to draw teachers in from other districts and charter schools.
AAPS is also especially welcoming, he said.
“This doesn’t happen everywhere, where the new people are brought in, and there’s a social event where administrators and board members and union leaders are all in the same place at the same time,” he said.
Trainor said that everyone can point to somebody in education who changed their lives for the better.
“By the middle of September, every single person sitting here will be that person for more than one of your students,” he said, noting that computers offer information, but not an education.
He urged teachers to fight against what he called the “corporate takeover of public education.”
“You are coming to a leading district at a time when the state needs to be led, and we need to fight for public education. If we let them, the profiteers will take that inspirational person out of the life of every student that’s about to come into your classroom.”
Superintendent Jeanice Swift reminded teachers of the important role they’ll play in the lives of their students this year.
“Ms. Carter was right,” said Swift, referring to Carter’s comments earlier in the brief program. “You’ve joined a great team in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and it’s our goal to make sure that you have every bit of the support you need,” said Swift.
“Seventeen thousand students are counting on us … Thank you for all you’ve done to get ready for this day, and I appreciate and want to thank you in advance for all the work you’re going to give to invest in our children. Your caring, your competence and your commitment make all the difference for our children.”
Opening Day for teachers and staff is Tuesday, Sept. 1. Principals, teachers and staff are encouraged to use social media on Tuesday to highlight their first day back in the classrooms. AAPS will stream Facebook and Twitter posts on its main website, www.a2schools.org. AAPS is also on twitter (@a2schools) and Facebook.
Students’ first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 8.