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Episode 44: Stronger Together

Not only is the end of the 2018-19 Academic Year a time to reflect on what has happened throughout the last 10 - or really 12 - months, it is a time for all of us to look forward. Despite some complications and major challenges, you - our United Teachers of Lowell members - have much to be proud of. The education and academic experiences of our students is among the best in the country because of your never-wavering professionalism and commitment. We have accomplished great things because...


Episode 43: Spotlighting Sarah Foster & the Laura Lee Therapeutic Day School

We are closing out 2019’s Teacher Appreciation Month with an acknowledgement of the inspiring work done by Lowell Public Schools educators each and every day. Our UTL495 members working in the Lowell Public School take great pride in accommodating the needs of all of our students. No matter what the academic or mental health and behavioral needs, our educators work with colleagues, specialists, therapists and families to ensure each child receives the support needed for success. That...


Episode 42: Lowell Goes to Fund Our Future Day of Action

In 1993, Massachusetts passed landmark legislation, the Education Reform Act, which was intended to equalize access to education for children living in every community in Massachusetts. As we’ve explained in several podcast episodes, the funding formulas resulting from this 1993 legislation have not been updated and some of the formulas are based in 1993 economic factors. As you can imagine, funding based upon 1993 economic factors can only mean that in 2019, our public education system is...


Episode 41: Spotlight on the Cast & Crew of Shrek the Musical

If you weren’t already aware, Lowell High School has an outstanding Fine Arts Department. Visiting the “basement”, the area of Lowell High where the Fine Arts classrooms are located, one can’t help but notice the rooms and hallway spaces buzzing with activity, especially around the times when performances are scheduled. Lowell High School has produced a musical for many years and each year it seems as if the productions just get better and better. Talented casts of students sing, dance, act...


Episode 40: Let's Rally to Fund Our Future on May 16!

As the Lowell School Committee begins budget deliberations, we are hearing about a second year of very painful cuts to services our students need and deserve. Lowell’s schools are grossly underfunded; in fact Mass Budget and Policy Center estimates that Lowell is short $42 million in State Education Funding every year. If you have been following the Funding issue or attended one of the two Foundation Budget Forums held in the City, you know that this is a “perfect storm” that is...


Episode 39: Farrell-Grady Scholarship FAQ

Are you aware that the United Teachers of Lowell sponsors a scholarship each year? The Farrell-Grady Scholarships were established to honor two UTL495 greats: Bill Farrell and Tom Grady. Each year the UTL awards a scholarship to every graduating high school senior whose parent is a United Teachers of Lowell member. In this episode, we speak with Midge Farrell, the wife of Bill Farrell and a formidable educator in her own right. Midge graciously spoke with us to tell a bit about the...


Episode 38: FAQ for Members - FMLA and Extended Sick Leaves

This week’s podcast was suggested by our own United Teachers of Lowell Office Manager, Nancy Giblin as a topic that members are interested in. When a personal illness strikes or a member needs to be caregiver for a loved one, it is comforting to know what the process is for initiating Family Medical Leave. And if a member’s illness prompts the need for an extended leave, UTL495 members have each others’ backs. Today we’re talking with UTL Office Manager, Nancy Giblin about one of the most...


Episode 37: Paraprofessional Appreciation

We could not be any more fortunate than to work with the dedicated paraprofessionals in our Lowell Public Schools. To quote AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos: “” Today, Wednesday, April 3, 2019, is Paraprofessional Appreciation Day across the United States. We are taking this opportunity to speak with three outstanding Lowell Public Schools paras: Brenda King, United Teachers of Lowell’s Paraprofessional Chair, Maureen Soucy who works with CSA students,, and Carolyn Demers who works...


Episode 36: The CHERISH Act: Important Higher Education Funding with Jack Bove

In this Episode of Straight Talk, we are learning about the impact Massachusett’s underfunding of state public colleges and universities is having. University of Massachusetts Lowell junior and Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) member Jack Bove talks about the importance of the CHERISH act to students and their families. Jack also spoke at our Lowell Education Justice Alliance Legislative Forum in March about the urgent need to reverse this trend and he is articulate...


Episode 35: Funding Our Future, Voices from Lowell's Legislative Forum

As almost everyone with a stake in public education knows, Massachusetts funding of Public School education is in dire need of updating. Since 1993 when Education Reform and the Foundation Budget calculations were developed, there has been little done by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to update the funding formulae and account for changes in costs over the past 26 years. Last July, after the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation to update the Foundation Budget formulae, the...


Episode 34: Amy Pessia Rotary Club of Lowell President & the Celebration of Teaching 2019

The Rotary Club of Lowell has a long-held core belief of “Service Above Self”. The Rotary Club members serve the community is many ways from providing volunteer support to groups like Lowell’s WISH Project to organizing a Harvest Dinner Dance for area seniors or organizing a clean-up of Lowell’s Rotary Park. Since 2000, the Club has organized a Celebration of Teaching during Teacher Appreciation Week to celebrate the hard work and dedication of Lowell’s educators and paraprofessionals. The...


Episode 33: #bestfieldtripever: Tsongas Industrial History Center

The history of the American Industrial Revolution and the history of Lowell are deeply intertwined. Lowell’s founding as the country’s first planned industrial city cemented it as a magnet for technological innovations, capitalist investors, and industrious workers from New England and abroad. Those legacy, as well as present-day progress are shared through education programs at the Tsongas Industrial History Center, the 27-year partnership between the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s...


Episode 32: A Blue Ribbon Chat with Paul Georges

With a flurry of activity over the last month, the Lowell School Committee has commenced their search for Lowell’s next Superintendent of Schools. There are many stakeholders interested in finding and retaining a District leader who will be able to navigate the politics of Lowell and the challenges of 21st Century urban school leadership, so there is a lot riding on an effective screening of potential candidates. With those challenges in mind, we thought it would be instructive to get an...


Episode 31: Fund Our Future Campaign, Part 2

When we talk about underfunded schools and the effects of over 25 years of Foundation Budget calculations that have not been revised, it is quite easy to see how school districts across Massachusetts eventually start to feel the pain. Colin Jones from Mass Budget and Policy Center prepared this video explainer recently about how Chapter 70 impacts different communities to differing degrees: those communities with greater agility to raise local revenues through, say, property taxes, have been...


Episode 30: An Urgent Need to Fund Our Future

One of the biggest disappointments of the Massachusetts Legislative session which ended last July was the failure to reach agreement between the Massachusetts Senate and House on revisions to the Foundation Budget. With a flourish of last minute information - some of which mysteriously came from our own Department of Elementary and Secondary Education - the clock on the bill and the Legislative Session ran out and no House-Senate Compromise could be reach. As disappointing as the failure to...


Episode 29: Meet UTL495's Nancy Giblin

As a union local, we have many people working on our members’ behalf. When a member reaches out to our local, one of first people you most likely will speak with is Office Manager, Nancy Giblin. Nancy, as you will learn, has been with our UTL495 office since 1992. That means Nancy has invaluable background and knowledge of how things work, who to contact, and can often point members with questions to the answers they are looking for. Nancy is calm, courteous and always on top of Member...


Episode 28: Spotlight on Mariana Athayde

Lowell has so many talented and dedicated educators working with our students and families. Today we are privileged to chat with STEM Academy Newcomer teacher, Mariana Athayde. Mariana Athayde is a newcomer teacher for Grades 3-5 at the Rogers STEM Academy in Lowell, MA. Born and raised in Brazil, Mariana has experienced first hand the challenges newcomers face during their first years of education in a second language. Mariana holds a Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Teaching from...


Episode 27: GIC Proposal Updates

Here in Lowell, Massachusetts, our municipal workers receive health insurance benefits that are procured through the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission. Last year, as members will remember, the Group Insurance Commission - or GIC - attempted to not only significantly raise insurance premiums for members, but also proposed to limit access to particular insurance plans including some plans that many of our local members subscribed. The cuts to benefits and increases in co-pays,...


Episode 26: A Conversation with AFT-MA Director or Organization, Brian LaPierre

We are more than fortunate to have dedicated powerhouses like AFT-MA Director of Organization Brian LaPierre supporting all of us! One of the most talented and passionate advocates for public education, Brian is a member of the Lynn Teachers Union. He formerly taught at the Thurgood Marshall Middle School and at Lynn English High School. Tireless, enthusiastic, and resolute, Brian’s energy, enthusiasm and support for public education makes him a force to be reckoned with. As a political...


Episode 25: January 2019 Updates

The United Teachers of Lowell continues to press City and School officials about facilities issues that continue to impact our students and our members. In today’s podcast, Mickie and I update members about what has transpired since Paul, Mickie and several of our UTL Executive Board members attended a Lowell Board of Health meeting on December 5, 2018. We have had some subsequent contacts and today, we are asking UTL members to help us continue to collect data that will provide School and...