Teachers union members are committed to the community
Many young people are surprised to see their teachers outside of school, believing we are somehow confined to the classroom day and night. Though teachers work long hours, many are also community leaders. Our members are volunteers at churches and synagogues, scout leaders, band boosters, and PTA members, to name a few. In our teachers union, we believe strongly in community service as part of our core values of promoting social justice and democracy. Here are some examples of the types of activities CH-UH faculty participated in recently:
In September, our members volunteered for the Heritage Home Tour run by Heights Community Congress (HCC). We have been participating in this event for several years by hosting one of the homes on the tour. Many community organizations help out during this community event that showcases special homes and gardens while supporting HCC programming that promotes fair housing, integration, and more.
In August, we asked to be paired with a child through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which raises money for granting the wishes of children who have critical diseases. For these children, having something special to look forward to can make an enormous difference in their emotional health that can sometimes result in a positive change in the trajectory of their diseases, or can have a beneficial effect on family dynamics.
We were paired with 15-year-old Megan, who lives in Lakewood and has struggled her whole life with seizure disorders. Megan’s wish was to have a service dog to help her with daily tasks, as well as for companionship. Service dogs can be trained to sense when a seizure is starting and alert family members. In addition to participating in the annual Walk-For-Wishes at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, CH-UH team members from all of our schools raised more than $10,000 toward granting Megan’s wish. A puppy will be identified and trained for several months. Megan expects to be paired with her dog next spring.
This fall, we co-hosted a tailgate party with CH-UH administration for the first home football game, something we have not done for a long time. It was not only fun to do, but we were also able to add to our Make-A-Wish campaign with the profits we earned.
During a busy fall schedule, we hosted other social gatherings for our members. We believe it is important for us to patronize local businesses when we plan these events. This year we distributed candy and pencils to an estimated 1,000 Halloween goblins, ghosts and other masked creatures at the Lee Road Candy Crawl. What fun!
Being part of the community means more to us than just coming to work. Our union will continue to participate in projects that align with our values, while supporting our community so that no child will be surprised to see his or her teacher outside of school.
Ari Klein is a lifelong community member, math teacher at Cleveland Heights High School, and president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union.