School leadership comes in many forms from running a campus club to attending a field trip.
It also comes in the form of teachers supporting teachers. And these days, with tough economic times looming and ever-changing demands, teachers need as many people in their corner as possible.
This year three teacher-leaders are being honored for just that, their commitment to going above and beyond by serving teachers in a leadership capacity through the Ramona Teachers Association (RTA).
The award, given by the California Teachers Association (CTA), is called the WHO award or We Honor Ours.
Proudly representing Ramona Unified this year are Jeanine Hawkins, Grant McNiff and Stephanie Hurst. They will be celebrated for their hard work on June 6 at the Westin, San Diego.
Hurst has been working in education for 34 years and has been with Ramona Unified School District for 29 of those years, working at all grade levels. She currently is a speech language pathologist at Barnett Elementary, and has been since the school opened in 1992.
She has been the RTA representative for Barnett in the past and also developed and helped launch the RTA Web site, which she manages. She is the RTA secretary and edits the Teacher Times newsletter. In March, the newsletter was awarded with the prestigious CTA Newsletter Award for best newsletter in the 100- to 499-member category. She is honored and proud to earn the WHO award.
“It’s a tribute to those who dedicated their time and energy in service to their CTA chapter,” she said.
Hurst comes from a family of active employee union members and she is proud to carry on that tradition.
“Having an organization that looks out for the interest of teachers in particular, and education in general, is vital to keeping a balance in our educational system,” she said. “It provides much needed representation for teachers.”
Hawkins has been in the district for 17 years. The last 12 have been at Montecito High School, where she teaches business and computer applications, computerized accounting, and computerized graphic design.
In addition, she has been the RTA treasurer for the past three years and a member of the Communications Committee. Hawkins was also commended for her work in the award-winning newsletter mentioned above.
She was surprised and honored by her upcoming award.
“CTA is so important because it supports us as a whole and looks out after our best interests,” she said. “They make sure teachers know there is always someone working on their behalf.”
McNiff has taught at James Dukes Elementary for 21 years, spending time teaching grades kindergarten through third and fifth. He currently teaches third grade.
He joined RTA the same year he started teaching and has been the site representative for 18 of his 21 years. He sits on the Calendar Committee and the PAR panel.
“Rewards and recognitions are always nice,” he said. “But, seeing students figure it out, grow and succeed are the only awards that matter. The more of these the better. But, being a part of CTA/RTA, which gives a voice to teachers when they are uncomfortable speaking up, is an opportunity to take on a leadership role within the district without leaving the classroom. The classroom is where it’s at!”
Additional information about the Ramona Teachers Association is on its Web site at ramonateachers.org.