Gingerbread houses and teacher unions.

When I see gingerbread houses this time of year I think about the teacher two doors down the hall who made making them an assignment each year as homework.

I imagine it was mostly done by parents – moms most likely. But they were great and festive. And a shared family thing. They filled the library display case. 

Pretzel log roofs. Jellies in the windows. Candied dripping icicles. Some small modest dwellings. Others quite like mansions.

And I remember when the teacher was diagnosed with cancer which made it physically impossible to take her class to PE or Music or recess. But she wanted to continue to teach and all she needed was assistance. 

Naturally, the district resisted. They pressured her to retire “for her own good.”

As the union president I had to have the discussion with the head of HR. “We can make this difficult or easy,” I explained to him. “She wants to teach, she can teach and it’s a good lesson for her students that people who may have an illness or disability can be productive. And it’s the law.”

There’s nothing like the threat of a lawyer.

She was able to finish out the year.

And gingerbread houses still remind me of her and why teachers need a union.

4 thoughts on “Gingerbread houses and teacher unions.

  1. I remember an assistant principal who came back to work in September after a difficult bout with cancer. She retired the following June, with her husband, after 30+ years each. They then moved to Florida and she started selling real estate. You’re right, it’s important to see people with illness and disability living life as they chose.

  2. What a wonderful story, especially in this difficult year and in this season. Thank you for sharing this wonderful example of compassion, leadership, inspiration, and productivity

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