A Farewell Message from Shelley Potter
This is the last week of my Alliance presidency. No, I’m not retiring, but I am “terming out.” Eight years ago we held an election in which members voted to institute term limits of two four-year terms for our union officers from that point forward. May 31st brings my terms to an end. Our president-elect, Alejandra Lopez, and I have begun a transition process. She will assume the presidency on June 1. I will stay on through the end of June to assist and support. Then I will be starting a new chapter in my life. I definitely plan to stay involved in the fight for our schools, the public’s schools.
Serving as our union’s president has been one of the greatest honors and privileges of my life. I have been so fortunate to do this work that I love and to have had the opportunity to extend the passion I had for my students and families at J.T. Brackenridge ES to a passion for all of our SAISD students, families, and community. I never set out to be a union president. My dream was to be a teacher. I still remember how excited I was to secure my teaching job in SAISD. Like so many of you, I wanted to make a difference for children. Along the way, I learned that through my union I could help make changes that extended far beyond my classroom walls. And that began a journey of learning about the power of collective action.
I thank you, and all of the members from over the past 35 years, for your amazing support. On tough days, your encouragement and strength always kept me going. Knowing that you were out there doing the REALLY hard day-to-day work always gave me energy. I also thank our incredible Alliance staff, present and past. I have had the pleasure to work with truly wonderful people over the years, which has helped make the work all the more fulfilling
TOGETHER, we have built the largest labor union in San Antonio. We have built a local union that is regarded as one of the most effective TSTA and Texas AFT locals in the state. YOU, and your union sisters and brothers that came before, did that. You joined, you got involved, you kept up to date on issues, you completed surveys, signed petitions, attended school board meetings, went to Lobby Days, took on leadership roles, attended union-sponsored leadership sessions or PD sessions, canvassed in political campaigns, and asked others to join. And I know that you will continue to do all these things and so much more.
Over the past two months, you all have been nothing short of remarkable. Not that you were not amazing before that. Of course, you were. Suddenly, though, a large portion of the public realized how exceptional school employees are. Accolades were shouted far and wide for school food service staff who have kept our students fed and for custodians who have kept our schools and facilities cleaned and disinfected. Parents and celebrities posted their support for educators and proclaimed how teachers need to be paid WAY more than they are. EVERY category of school employees played vital roles. NEVER FORGET THIS. The time will come again, sooner rather than later, when the privatizes and the teacher-bashers and the corporate “reformers” will come for you and for public education once more.
—NEVER allow them to make you feel inferior.
—NEVER let them break you down.
—REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.
YOU are the people who OVERNIGHT rose to the challenge to take care of our students and their families during this pandemic. You learned new ways of doing things, you adjusted, you persevered in the toughest of times. You did that during a time when many of you were afraid for yourselves and your families and friends. But your perseverance, your creativity, your humanity, your dedication, your support for each other shone through! This is who YOU are. This is who WE are. I am so very proud to know you! I wish you all the best.
In Solidarity, Love, and Gratitude,