Don Dabenigno

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The world of accountancy has led many great people to great fame. Most of them, however, achieve that recognition within the field. For newly-elected Chelsea Teachers Union President and AFT MA Executive Board member Don Dabenigno, the story is somewhat different
After graduating from high school, Dabenigno entered college to pursue a degree in accounting. While attending classes, he began to spend time working with school-age children as part of various recreation and athletics programs.
"The enjoyment I had working with and educating youngsters convinced me that I wanted to be a teacher," he explains. "At the end of my freshman year, I transferred schools and pursued a degree in education."
As a child, Dabenigno was taught by his parents to believe that all people should be treated fairly and that those with experience should help those without.
"Throughout my professional and personal life I have maintained these beliefs," he says. As an educator, Dabenigno has often found himself not just giving out advice to students, but also being sought for advice by colleagues.
"Many colleagues would seek advice from me," he explains, "not only about student engagement and classroom management but about fairness in the workplace."
As he became more and more educated on such topics, Dabenigno found himself becoming more and more interested in union work.
"Knowing that some of a union’s many roles are to promote outstanding working conditions, uphold fairness and protect its membership's rights," he says, "becoming involved with AFT MA was a priority."
After a few years of teaching in Chelsea, Dabenigno had an opportunity to run for building representative and then for the office of Local President.
"I saw it as a chance to put my beliefs into action," he explains, suggesting that his years of experience in and out of the classroom have granted him a perspective that has often proven useful in negotiations and other union matters. "I bring a variety of strategies,” he says, “and saw…this leadership role as an opportunity to reach out to a much larger group of colleagues."
In both of his new roles, Dabenigno hopes to continue the “great work” that has been carried out by Local 1340 and by AFT MA.
"To achieve this," he advises, "we need to continue to educate our membership about the opportunities the local provides and increase the level of confidence in the local's leadership."
Dabenigno also hopes to continue to engage colleagues and to encourage more of them to become involved as well. "I will be asking all members of the local to explore new ideas in an effort to further unite our members," he says.
Another major goal for Dabenigno is to use the power of the union to support our educators and our students.
"I want to oversee and safeguard the numerous gains the local has made over the years on behalf of its members," he says, "in order to provide outstanding education to the children of our city."