#AFTVoices: Yamilis Cruz, Teacher and Building Rep at Chelsea High Schools

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#AFTVoices is proud to feature Yamilis Cruz, Teacher and Building Rep at Chelsea High School. This series aims to uplift the voices, members and staff that make up AFT Massachusetts.

In the discourse around public education, teachers are often pitted against administration. This false dichotomy can not only create unnecessarily difficult dynamics in our schools, but it can stop us from building power together in the fight for better schools. In my time as a building rep in our union, I’ve been exploring what it looks like to foster stronger connections between educators and the administration.

Throughout my time at Chelsea High School, there has been high turnover of both teachers and leadership. We have had three principals in the last five years alone and, like many schools across the state, that turnover has led to ongoing challenges and policy changes. The inconsistency is difficult, but it also presents an opportunity for partnership between educators and admin. Becoming a building rep has allowed me to engage with my school in a different way by listening to the needs of my co-workers and working toward solutions.

It is important that we disrupt the idea that our relationships with administration are inherently adversarial. When we are bargaining contracts, we are fighting for schools that set our students up for success, including more sustainable working conditions for their teachers. This requires strategic demands and persistence from educators and accountability from leadership. Being active in our union can shift this process toward one that centers the needs of students and educators while creating a pathway for collaboration and success.