ATA News

Unite to create a better future, ATA president urges

Alberta Teachers' Association president Jason Schilling speaks at the Annual Representative Assembly on May 20, 2023.

Despite all the challenges facing them within the public education system, Alberta teachers continue to make a positive difference in the lives of their students.

This was the message delivered by ATA president Jason Schilling during his address to delegates of the Annual Representative Assembly (ARA) in Edmonton on May 20.

“You make a powerful difference to the lives of your students and to each other. You are the best part of someone’s day and to me that’s just inspiring,” Schilling said.

“This is why you are valued, you are needed, you are trusted in your school communities — the work you do matters.”

Schilling noted that ARA was taking place at a very interesting time, just nine days prior to a pivotal provincial election. He cautioned against getting caught up in the polarization that characterizes modern politics, stressing the need for teachers to remain united and take the lead in advocating for positive change within the public education sector.

“This starts by genuinely listening to each other, seeking to understand, and then collaborating with others, such as school boards and parents, on creating answers. We cannot be too quick to jump into actions,” he said. “This is one of the many things that keeps me up at night — how polarized we have become as a society and as members in the Association.”

Teachers must work together at both the provincial and local levels to deepen collegial connections that were strained during the pandemic, Schilling said, adding that these renewed ties will help members see the importance of belonging and contributing to a strong association. This is particularly important given the approach of the next round of central bargaining.

Schilling also urged teachers to work on broadening their networks outside of education, to tell their stories, share their celebrations and highlight the needs of their students.

“Public education is fundamental to the success of our communities and province,” he said. “We all have a stake in seeing our students flourish and achieve their goals.”

Schilling urged teachers to embrace the challenges of a profession that is often met with setbacks but also resounding success and joy.

“I believe in my heart that we can make education better in this province not only for our students, their parents, and for each other,” he said.

“We need to grasp the many opportunities we see before us, and work together to make a positive difference that public education so desperately needs,” he said. “We do it together, united in the truest sense of the words, as a profession unified in collegiality, determination and hope.”