Just one month after the Rollins fire, AFT President Randi Weingarten came to the temporary home of the Rollins to marvel at the progress the teachers and staff had made and to offer her continued support.
“This is the second time national has stepped in," explained LTU President Frank McLaughlin, recalling the 2015 fire at the Bruce School (please see December 2016/January 2017 issue). “I know that all I have to do is make a call and Randi and her team will be here to help.”
“What we are trying to do within the AFT is to walk the walk,” Weingarten explained. “The union wants to do what we can not just to show up (which is important), but to walk the walk of caring and of fighting for what we believe in.”
Upon her arrival, Weingarten was warmly welcomed to the Rollins by Principal James O’Keefe and his talented team.
“The union is more than the resources,” she observed. “It is the people…. When you have good colleagues, people work together and get the problem taken care of.”
As the Rollins is a neighborhood school, Weingarten thanked Mayor Dan Rivera, the local firefighters, union leaders, and school staff and noted how the entire neighborhood has offered support.
“The teachers were in the street as the school burned counseling the kids,” she recalled, “and they had one day of professional development and everything was back up and they are running great now!”
After taking a tour of the school, Weingarten personally involved herself in an even larger circle of support by reading and distributing books that had been donated by FirstBook to the nearly 200 children.
“My goals with trips these days is to lift up the resilience and tenacity and caring and compassion of people who work with children and public school workers,” Weingarten explained. “To be able to create the kind of normalcy and stability you have only a month out- that's the Lawrence way!” ▪