United Federation of Teachers
Ann Kessler has had three careers during her 56 years in education. She was a classroom teacher for 25 years and was there with Al Shanker for the 1968 strike. Soon after, Shanker asked her to become his assistant for the Borough of Brooklyn, and she readily accepted. She worked hard for better conditions for teachers and to improve public education. In 1989, she retired from the classroom on a Monday, and on Tuesday then-UFT President Sandy Feldman called her to become a legislative assistant for the union. Even though she had been looking forward to retirement, she accepted. "I wanted to do it because I was always interested in the children and how to make things better for them," she recalls.
Kessler has always been working for kids. She became active on the Martin Luther King Commission, helping to award scholarships to many needy children. Active on the Jewish Labor Committee, she reviews applications teachers submit to be part of the Holocaust education program in Israel. She has received numerous awards and recognitions.
Kessler believes there have been major changes in the world of education through the years, not all of them positive. For example, she would like to see teachers being able to teach the way they want to teach, instead of having to focus so much on tests. Kessler also believes it is important for a child's education to build better relationships between home and school. Her advice to novice teachers: "Be prepared to work hard, and make sure you have it in your guts to be a teacher. Make sure you really like kids. Also, remember you are a union member and make sure you become a part of that union. Get involved and speak your mind. Do all the things you can do to make your union stronger, and you will be stronger, too."