Our students value us, blog by UEA Vice President Renee Pinkney

I can’t believe it’s been a little over a year serving as your UEA Vice President! In the summer of 2019, I was shadowing President Heidi Matthews at our UEA building, getting to know our tremendous staff better, attending new teacher orientations and planning our August UEA Board of Directors’ retreat and first Board meeting. July and August 2020 offer up a stark contrast. For all of us, a new reality has set in.

Back-to-school 2020 will not soon be forgotten. I, like you, returned to my familiar, yet not so familiar classroom. Some of us are back to in-person, full-time teaching, some of us have a hybrid model, some of us are teaching remotely and some of us are doing all three. Teachers in Utah have always been asked to do more with less. This has never been truer than today. We are all stepping up to ensure that all of our students attend a great public school, because students are at the heart of everything we do. However, it is more important than ever that teachers take time to care for themselves.

UEA staff and several members of our association have teamed up to offer “Educator Self-Care and Student Support Webinars” exclusively for YOU! The next webinars begin this month. I highly encourage you to participate. You can find registration information at myUEA.org/webinars. I attended the summer webinars and found them to be incredibly helpful. We all need a little TLC and support as we navigate these uncharted waters. UEA is here for you! Our students are here for us too.

On Saturday, after the first week of school I received an email from one of my new students. He began the email explaining how hard the soft closure was on him for a variety of reasons, then he said this:

“But now, because of you, I have regained that drive, that purpose. I am able to learn from a person rather than learn from a screen. I am able to study with my friends rather than study with Google. I am able to smile, even if it is concealed beneath my mask. The new rules aren’t easy, but they are worth it.

“I don’t know if you know, but I actually wasn’t going to take AP Psychology until Ms. O’Brien recommended it. And I cannot tell you how right she was! I’m already having such a blast in your class, and I can’t wait for what’s to come.

“I know I speak for all of my classmates when I say how thankful I am to you. Thank you for making it possible to see my friends. Thank you for making it possible to take a rigorous class. Thank you for making it possible to truly learn.

“I am eternally grateful.”

Our students value us. I value you. I’m very grateful to you for choosing to reach, teach and inspire our students every day. Stay safe and healthy.