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ATA locals recognized for tackling hot-button issues

August 30, 2016 ATA News Staff

The Alberta Teachers’ Association has recognized four of its locals for performing outstanding work related to political engagement; public relations; and diversity, equity and human rights (DEHR). The awards relate to activities conducted during the 2015/16 school year. Local representatives accepted them at the opening session of the Association’s annual Summer Conference in Banff on Aug. 15.

"It is great to see all of our ATA locals undertaking great advocacy work on behalf of their teachers. The winners should be very proud of these significant accomplishments," said Association president Mark Ramsankar.

Local Political Engagement Awards

Three locals won Local Political Engagement Awards. Edmonton Catholic Teachers Local No. 54 got the nod for its political engagement program entitled Making Connections. The local tackled emergent issues in education by creating a gay-straight alliance for its teachers and by hosting professional development activities related to addressing poverty and supporting refugee students. In addition, the local helped connect teachers with their MLAs through a "speed-dating" activity and follow-up dinner. Judges recognized the local for organizing a variety of quality initiatives, calling the work "effective and inspiring!"

Fort Vermilion Local No. 77 won a Local Political Engagement Award by creating multiple opportunities for teachers to meet with and talk to their MLA about education issues. The MLA attended the local’s teacher induction ceremony and a teacher social. The local also organized an effective lobby to push for changes to Bill 5, the Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act. Award judges applauded the local for its good relationship-building skills and for appropriately focusing its work on clear objectives.

Calgary Public Teachers Local No. 38 earned a Local Political Engagement Award for engaging with MLAs through various programs throughout the school year. The local hosted its annual November Nosh meet-and-greet with MLAs, with the 2015 version being the most successful yet. The following spring, as part of its Class & Coffee event, the local invited MLAs to visit schools and attend classes. The local also used teachers’ convention to generate postcards from teachers to inform MLAs about current classroom conditions. Award judges commended the local for laying a foundation for meaningful relationships with elected leaders.

Local Public Relations Award

Calgary Public also received a Local Public Relations Award of Excellence for its program called Positive Impressions of Teachers. This project succeeded in actively engaging local members, highlighting the positive nature of the teaching profession and the local itself within the Calgary community. It also created a strong, dynamic social media presence for the local. With other initiatives, Calgary Public marked World Teachers’ Day by handing out apples to the public, awarded gift certificates to substitute teachers during Substitute Appreciation Week, hosted a games night to raise funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association and celebrated Education Week using local celebrities to promote public education. Judges praised the number of unique events and commended the local for its comprehensive and well-documented program.

Local DEHR Award

Lethbridge Public Local No. 41 won the Local DEHR Award for its DEHR to Care Art Gala 2016. The event enabled teachers and their students to explore the theme of refugees in their own unique ways. Participants then took what they learned and created works of art that were displayed at the art gala. While the local organized the event, it involved participation by more than 700 students in 11 schools and three Lethbridge school divisions. To the award judges, the learning experiences; celebration of diversity, equity and human rights; and the pride and involvement of students and teachers were a testament to the power of public education. ❚

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