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Persistence, not perfection

June 2, 2021 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

Teachers can lead province to a better future, ATA president urges


The past year has been “tough, stressful and relentless,” but there is hope for the future.

That was the message shared by ATA president Jason Schilling during a speech to delegates of the 104th Annual Representative Assembly, which is taking place virtually over the May long weekend. 

While being careful to avoid the clichés that have become cringeworthy during the past year, Schilling acknowledged that challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic have dominated teachers’ lives.

“It’s stressful and frustrating to think of what this last year has done to our classrooms and way of life. We have mourned the loss of traditions we hold dear, we stayed home, we waved to loved ones through screens and did what was asked of us in the hope that our efforts will make for a better future,” Schilling said.

“As frustrating and stressful as this last year has been, I am continually inspired by the work you do day in and day out for public education in Alberta. Like you, I believe in public education. I believe in teachers and principals. I believe in our students.”

Schilling urged teachers to look ahead because “a return to normal will never happen.”

“We can’t go back — only forward. As dedicated teachers, we just did what needed to be done, but for many of us, that dedication has come at a high emotional cost. We need to honour that. We need to recognize the toll that the last 15 months has taken on all of us,” he said.

“But we also need to recognize that we have a chance to reimagine a better, stronger, more inclusive future for our students and public education in this province we love. I believe that teachers and the ATA can lead this opportunity.”

Beyond COVID, Schilling acknowledged the pressure created by a continuous stream of other crises, such as the government’s handling of the teachers’ pension plan and curriculum redesign. Referencing a lesson he learned from broadcaster and comedian Candy Palmater, he urged teachers to let go of a desire to be perfect and to focus instead on being persistent.

“So together we will persist. We will persist in our condemnation of a flawed curriculum. We will persist in our challenge to AIMCo’s right to manage our pension. We will be relentless in our advocacy for our students and for public education,” Schilling said.

“We will come out of this — we will not be broken. We need to reach way down into our last reserve of energy to make it to the end of this year. We will work together to reimagine a better future, for our association, for our kids and for ourselves.”


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