President Lisa Gourley: In A Chaotic World, We are A Constant for Our Students

One of the best parts of being your state president is that I get to hear from represented employees in all areas of the state. Lately, it’s no surprise concerns related to the coronavirus are front and center in my messages. We’ve all been impacted. Our movements, social engagements and local economies are dampened. For too many, it has affected the ones we love. From every point of view, I’ve heard your stories loud and clear.

As the school year begins, more of us are back on site, causing great apprehension, frustration, disappointment and even anger. These emotions are real and affect us in different ways. We all know there are no easy answers — just the desire to go back to doing what we do best: supporting our kids and communities. The quality of our students’ lives, including their physical and mental health, is to a great extent affected by their education environment. For many students, we are an incredible source of healing and progress. As our students return to school, they need our support more than ever. Like always, we are seeing new faces and missing others, but we are also the constant in so many lives. We are the trusted adults students see each morning and throughout their day. We are the people in the safe spaces of our school hallways. They need our strength and determination, our model of how to step up when things are the hardest. As important role models, we help them be their finest.

It’s not always easy, but we have a job to do that nobody else can. We know that, even with all the division and colliding emotions around us, we really are all in this together. If we have learned one thing during the pandemic, it’s that classified staff and all workers in the education community are incredibly resilient! That resilience of our own will help us reach out to our coworker family and help them be successful, too.

As a union, it’s vital to have each other’s backs. Being an OSEA union member and engaging in your chapter will help keep us all united in that effort. It’s how we stay strong. On that note, I can report that over the past couple months, hundreds of employees have joined OSEA. If you’re a new member reading our Journal for the first time, welcome! We’ve been doing our best to advocate for everyone and your membership keeps our voice strong.

These are “all hands on deck” times. No one has been spared hardships. That’s why it’s so important to remember you are not alone, no matter how you feel. It’s easiest to make a difference for the children we serve if we stay determined. I’m not asking you to do anything you don’t already do; you are already so essential to our schools and our communities!

It may sound like a cliche, but you are the “U” in “unity.” You are center stage in the success of our kids as they recover from a global crisis. It doesn’t matter where it came from or where it’s been — just that we must pull ourselves forward and be strong enough to do this work.
We’ve got this.

In unity,

Lisa Gourley
OSEA President