To the Editor:
I need you to hear my letter that I emailed to the board of education on Monday, May 1, 2012. I want you to listen to my words and support us.
I am writing as a resident, parent of two young children and as a teacher in Bridgewater-Raritan. I grew up in Bridgewater and proudly graduated from our district. After college, when I began looking for a job, I knew I wanted to work in only Bridgewater. It seemed natural to want to give back to the district that gave so much to me.
People would always say to me, "How could you work in the district where your kids will go?" My response has always been the same. "Why would I want to work in a district that I wouldn't send my children to?"
When I began teaching, I loved working with and learning from some of my own teachers. They gave me wonderful advice, which helped me become the teacher that I am today. I have always been proud to be a teacher, especially in Bridgewater-Raritan.
When the state's perception of teachers began to change in recent years and suddenly we became the enemy, I always felt supported and appreciated here, until this year.
For the first time in my 13-year career, I find myself actually questioning why I am doing this; this is an awful feeling. I was feeling unappreciated by the government and now also by my employer. I have always gone above and beyond for this district. I serve on volunteer committees every year [most recently the redistricting committee], I run non-stipend clubs for students, give up countless lunches for extra help sessions, organize monthly donations from the teachers to various charities in our area.
I refer to my students as my kids. Often I have to clarify that I am not referring to my own children when I talk about my kids to other people. I do love what I do, and I have to remind myself I am in this for the children; my kids.
This year has been an emotional and financial struggle for all of us. It has been difficult just trying to make ends meet to be able to stay in this wonderful district and give my children the fabulous education I know they will receive here. I have been working three jobs in order to make this happen and it is still a struggle. Even with a raise it will continue to be a struggle.
I hear all of the board of education members saying how great the teachers are and thanking us for what a great job we do, but actions speak louder than words. It is time to show us that you truly are thankful and respect the fact that we spend more than six hours a day working for this district and these students, taking time away from our own families to do so.
Think about the individual people that are being affected by this continued disagreement between the B-REA and BoE and make the right decision. Settle a fair contract now.
Please tell me, how can I be assured my children will receive the same quality of education that I received from Bridgewater?